Thursday, June 9, 2016

That time they won the trophy...

I did something this weekend that today’s American culture would tell me is WRONG. Mom blogs everywhere will be lighting up, saying how awful I am to allow such heinous acts to occur in my child-rearing. Surely, I have not only ruined my child’s chance at a successful future, but how many kids did I leave behind in my wake of destruction?? Worst of all--some of them even walked away without a trophy. This weekend, I taught my kid how to win.

Brief back story to my horrific path of dashing young hopes and dreams is this:

My kid plays competitive baseball. And he’s good. And so is his team. We are THAT family (with an only child, to boot.) We have an SUV (or minivan) packed to the gills with sports equipment, tents, coolers, snacks, first aid kit, changes of clothes, umbrellas, and a partridge in a pear tree. Many weekends from August-November, and March-June, you can find us either freezing or sweltering in a field in the middle of some rural or suburban nightmare. And we love it; even when we have the fleeting moments of sanity, when we feel like this is all for the crazy-birds.

Some Interwebs “experts” will have you believe that we are what is wrong with the world. That we tie weights to our kids’ ankles and make them run sprints while wearing a parachute and a plastic suit in 100 degree temps. This may be the case for some, but not all. Not even the majority, really.

I have another deep, dark secret to indulge you with though...keep it on the down-low please, as this is probably the most damaging part of it--our kid plays one sport. One lonely sport. And he trains year-round, with throwing breaks in November/December and mid-July through mid-August. This makes us parents who allow him to “specialize” in a sport. Cue the doom & gloom music...dun, DuN, DUNNNN!!

Here is some insight to what one of our weekends looks like:

We wake up early, having packed up the night before, and get out the door, knowing to be on time is to be late
(Preparation, and respecting others’ schedules)

We get where we are going, and the kid works with his team to warm-up for the day- if our team is hosting the tournament, my husband and I are raking fields, setting up a concession stand, and distributing shirts to arriving teams
(Team and volunteer work, fundraising, and all hands on deck to put on a successful event)

Then the games begin--children hit the fields and are encouraged to score runs, keep the other team from scoring runs, and cheer each other on
(Being part of a team, supporting and motivating others, showcasing what they have trained to do)

As the tournament progresses, game times are unpredictable, as they are determined by wins and losses--there is often down time between games
(Families and team members gather together for meals-mostly pre-packed picnic style) and watch and cheer on other teams. Children do not have any sort of electronic device, and often engage in a game of wall ball, tag, or some other team-building activity. Families bond and often form friendships that will outlast our years at the ball field.)

If your team is winning, you continue to play. Eyes on the prize. May the best team win. If you are losing, you continue to play. Eyes on how you can work to improve for your next tournament.
(Constructive criticism, motivation to play well, hoping to win, or continuing to play in the face of defeat--one may argue which takes more strength.)

Along the way, your team will either be eliminated, or you will proceed. Ultimately, 2 teams will make it to the championship. You may have won all the games leading up, or you may have lost one. You may be facing a team you’ve beaten, lost to, or never played before. Only one thing is for certain: it’s not over til it’s over.

This weekend, our team battled in 5 games over 3 days. It was a holiday weekend, and families gave up pool parties and picnics to be at the field with their boys. Some had their other children with them; some were ducking out between games to shuttle a sibling here or there. There is often “changing of the guard,” where parents will switch off which event they are at in order to see all of their children participate in their sport. It was very hot, and the sun was brutal. We all worked together and pooled our resources to create areas of shade and shared coolers of water, Gatorade, and other energy-sustaining snacks with the boys and each other.

We have families of all socioeconomic levels on our team. We have families with many children, some with one child. We have single parent families, “traditional” families, and families facing separation that are trying to coexist for their children. We fundraise year-round to keep costs as low as possible, and to financially assist players who have talent, but maybe cannot afford to play. We often car pool and commute over a weekend, rather than spend the night in hotels. We are not the 1%. We are not “elite.”  We are not the parents throwing blows at umpires (although we are all human and all react.) We are dedicated to, and love our children. We count pitches, and pull them from the field if they are hurt. We teach them to work through the frustration of a strike-out and discuss what went wrong. We encourage them to do better next time. We remind them that hitting a baseball is the single-most difficult action in any sport. Even MLB pros only get the bat on the ball less than three quarters of the time.

This weekend, our kids happened to win. They were not the best team there. But they worked hard and defeated the best team there. This led them to the championship game, where they won again. This time claiming their trophy. Both teams line up on the field after the game, and the hosting coach debriefs the events of the weekend. Both teams are encouraged and applauded on their outstanding work. Both teams are reminded that only one team can win. The “losing” team receives a medal and applause as they individually accept, the winning team receives the same treatment and are each handed a trophy in addition to the large trophy handed to the coach.

Our team has been the “runner-up” many times. My son has a collection of “second place” medals---in baseball, second place means you “lost.” This first place trophy is a win on so many levels. We spent a weekend together as a family; even extended family came out to support. My kid did not play a single video game, or access a single app for 3 days. He did zone out in front of the tv in the cool a/c when we got home though. Today, he will return to school and will have a story when asked “what did you do this weekend?”

He will probably say “I won my baseball tournament.” What he really did was form a sense of motivation to become a better player, teammate, and a plan to remain on the path of success. This weekend will take him far beyond a trophy on a shelf. It will play a part that forms his sense of self, and his ability to be a part of something bigger than him.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

My turn

The kid (9) comes home from school today telling me how I just HAVE to let him attend this after-school bowling program at a bowling alley I have never heard of before. A van will pick him up from school, bring him to the bowling alley, and I can come pick him up in 3 hours.

I explain to him that I need more information. He feels I have all I need. We argue over the fact that I say "I don't even know where this is," and he says "the address is RIGHT. HERE," totally glossing over the fact that I STILL have no idea where the place is. I then explain to him that I need to speak with someone before letting him get into some random van that will take him to the bowling alley I have never been to or heard of before. He sees no problems, I see about a hundred and ten of them. Then, of course, there is the friend who is "90% sure he can go" (I called his mom. He can't go.) My kid is convinced I am ruining his life and stunting his social prospects with all of my minor safety concerns. 

Believe it or not, this was all just back story. The real story is, aside from me not wanting to send my kid to some random bowling alley that is kind enough to send a van to pick him up from school, it happens on an evening that I planned an activity for myself. I plan on taking up Zumba, and my first class happens to be the same evening as the first evening as this program. 

In order to be available to pick him up, I would not be able to make it to my Zumba class. A few months ago, I would have said "fine. I will miss Zumba." But this time I said no. I have plans on these nights. He was shocked. Maybe I was a little bit too. The mom who has always planned her own social and personal life around her kid's schedule, is saying no to an activity that conflicts with her own *GASP!* 

The truth is, I run him around to a variety of activities in locations up to 45 minutes away from home, several days a week. I work full-time during the week, and my time for me is limited to non-existent. I am taking back time for me. I can tell him no. Or he can ask his dad if he can be home early to take him/pick him up. I will continue to do everything I can to not miss a game, or special event. But I am a person too, and I need some time for me. It's my turn. This is my start. 

At least he won't have to resort to reading his Kindle in the car, waiting for me to come out of Zumba like I do for him....

Tuesday, October 29, 2013


I am feeling more "well-rounded" than normal today. And this time it is not because my muffin top has expanded. It is because I had the greatest impromptu "conversation" on facebook last night with two dear (understatement) friends of mine from college (undergrad.)

The best word I can think of to describe it is "refreshed." Admittedly, I am totally the guy with the beer gut and receding hairline at the 20 year-reunion reliving the one awesome play I had on the football field. The awesome one with the plaque commemorating it in the athletic display case of the front hall of the building. I still wear the jacket, albeit tight and tattered, and I still can remember how I felt when I realized everyone was cheering for me. Some people are over it and tired of my play-by-play, some are indifferent, but some jump right in with me and replay the moment. Except in reality, this moment was my 4 years away at college. I made some of the best friends, had the most collective amount of fun, and made memories that I will take to the grave with me.

Yesterday was a day full of chaos. Sick kid, both parents needed at work, executed a changing of the guards, and hubby as usual late to come home because of a dinner meeting. The weekend was spent tidying the house, finishing second grade homework, kid-tastic Halloween fun and dinner at the in-laws. Livin' the dream. I did not feel stressed, or put out. It just was. That is just what life currently is. A place where I am my husband's wife and my child's mom, or "the nurse at my school!" I am very rarely ever "just" me, in feeling or in recognition by others. And that is ok.

But these random bursts of "remember when?!" get me through. They give me pause and I realize that "I" am still here. This is not me saying I am unhappy or bored. What I have accomplished since my hayday of social peak is amazing to me. I am proud of every accomplishment in creating my own family, building a home, academic achievements, community outreach, etc,  I have had in these past 13 (ew) years.

Most of my friends from "back in the day" are also married, raising families, established in careers (or changing them.) We all have matured and nurture our offspring. We love our spouses, although most of us were not with that spouse at the time. Things change, people grow, but memories remain. And linger. And still have the ability to make me laugh til I cry as we rehash the ridiculous, often dramatic events that played out. One thing that was referenced within this conversation, was how the post-event gatherings at breakfast (or lunch) the next day where we would share each of our own recollections of the previous night were often more fun than when the events were actually occurring. The good stuff. The laugh-til-your-stomach-hurt-and-you-can-no-longer-form-words stuff. That's what is left. The negative drama is erased and we can live in the moment as adults seeing ourselves as "crazy kids." Awesome. And totally refreshing.

Thanks for the memories, friends :)

Monday, October 21, 2013


Recently, I saw someone on facebook "jokingly" refer to a parent as a "helicopter parent" and I became offended. This is a very dangerous term, and parents should not have to feel ashamed to speak on behalf of their children.

According to Wikipedia, the definition of a "helicopter parent" is a parent who pays extremely close attention to a child's or children's experiences and problems, particularly at educational institutions. (

I find this terminology offensive. Parents SHOULD pay extremely close attention to their child(ren)'s experiences and problems. PARTICULARLY at educational institutions. While I do feel that some parents cross a line at times, I also feel that often times some parents are afraid to speak up or "hover" and their children may suffer for it. 

When did we become a society that criticizes parents' involvement in their child(ren)'s education? I have never been called a helicopter parent (not to my face anyway,) but by wiki definition, I AM one. And I am proud of it. The short version of a long story, is that I have a child with high-functioning Autism. He is bright, energetic, full of life, and I will be his voice for everything he needs. But I teach him along the way. Someday he will need to advocate for himself. Someday he will outlive me. He needs to grow his own voice. But how can he learn to advocate for himself if he doesn't know how to or what is worth advocating for?

Do I storm into the school and demand meetings with teachers? No. Do I complain about test scores and accuse educators of not teaching well enough? No. Do I complain to teachers about homework? No. These are all expected trials and tribulations of the school culture. 

However, if my child is eligible for services that will help his ability to learn and function in a school setting, you bet your bippy I'll be the first one in line making sure he receives what he needs. If someone disagrees with me I do not yell. I do not send seething emails. I do research and find evidence to support my request and present it within the proper chain of command. And you know what?? I have been thanked and commended for this on multiple occasions by educators and specialists in our school. 

I pay extremely close attention to my child's experiences and problems (particularly in educational institutions) and I think we all should. I do not intend to call his college professors and complain when I do not agree with their grading or policies. However, I am teaching my son how to advocate so that he can do it for himself when the time comes. If something is not fair or right, we SHOULD advocate for ourselves and our children and NOT feel badly about it.

While I refuse to view my actions in a negative light, I do often find myself feeling badly that I am making more work for someone, or that I am being "that" parent for being involved. I have had discussions with other parents who feel like something was unjust in the classroom and they are afraid to say anything. "I don't want to be "that" parent," they say. I always encourage them to go with their gut and speak up. My personal policy is to sleep on it. Even type the angry email and delete it. Just to get it out. Then once clarity sets in, I have a clear mind to deal with the issue at hand in a calm and efficient manner. Problems get solved this way. 

So, call me what you want. I say advocate, you may say helicopter. But remember, some people say to-mah-to, and calling the whole thing off just isn't an option sometimes. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Fender Bender

Hubby took the kiddo to Home Depot this morning to their first Saturday of the month kids' workshop for kiddo to make a bird feeder. Shortly after they left, I got a call from him that nobody was hurt, but they got into a minor fender bender. Car is damaged and needs repaired, but it is drivable and he was still headed to Home Depot.

He was calm, I was calm...neither of us seemed really bothered by the fact that the car was damaged. Kiddo came home and told me all about "the crash!" that occurred at a speed of less than 5mph with great enthusiasm. And we laughed about it. And it hit me. We are blessed, and didn't even need to remind ourselves this time. I think the strife we are dealing with in trying to do what is best for kiddo and his behavioral and learning needs, is actually teaching us something. Recently, someone was telling me something their kiddo was struggling with and it was hard, but "God wouldn't give me anything I couldn't handle." And I remember thinking, she's better than me because I feel beaten down by our situation. But today, I realized I am handling things. I may not be religious, or think anyone is handing me anything in life, but I am starting to finally roll with the punches and deal with things as they come.

We filed our claim, will see the adjuster this week, and get the car fixed. We will continue working with therapists and treatment team for the kiddo and get him what he needs. We are content and we are dealing. We are ok.

It was a weird way to come around to believing it, but now I do believe "what doesn't kill you makes you stronger." And for that, I am thankful.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Under the bus

So, my kid totally threw me under the bus yesterday at his annual physical (yeah, he just turned 7 1/2, but I am that awesomely organized that we missed his 7 year...whatevs, he's fine.) Here's the back story:

On Sunday afternoon, we went out to dinner with my brother, and the departure was somewhat chaotic, giving him directions, the kid not wanting to say goodbye, kid misbehaving in a parking lot...I got in the passenger side and had my purse and a hoodie across my lap. Hubby wrestles kiddo into his booster and we pull out of the parking lot. I shifted and realized in a panic I had never put on my seatbelt. I consider myself to be a non-judgemental person, but I will fight you hard core about the importance of seatbelts and helmets...Two shifts as a student nurse in a trauma neuro unit and working as an RN in a neuro recovery unit will do that to ya....I am never one to not buckle up.

I exclaimed "AH! I never put my seatbelt on!" and immediately buckled up. We then discussed how dangerous that was even for a short minute, and moved on...or so I thought.

As part of the physical the next day, the pediatrician runs down a list of safety issues that would pertain to the child's age. "You should always be in a booster seat with a seatbelt whenever you are in the car, right?" The answer? "Yeah, but my mom doesn't always wear HER seatbelt." The pediatrician turns to me with a disapproving look in his eyes as I nervously laugh and give a quick synopsis of the day before....he wasn't buying it. He then explained to my kid how he should remind his mom to always buckle up if she forgets. This guy totally thinks I am a repeat offender...AWESOME!

Oh least it was reinforced how important seatbelts are and what a dolt mom was for not putting hers on...even if it was just one remote incident, I promise you. Buckle up!!

Monday, March 11, 2013


I am trying to turn over a new leaf in our house. One of simpler times. One that includes spending more time in our home, not running around like crazy. With the exception of things we have to do like school, work, dr and therapy appointments, we have few other commitments outside of baseball and scouts. This allows us much more free time in our home.

I am even going so far as to re-purpose rooms in our house for hanging out. We are creating a reading/music room, a rec room in the basement. I look forward to working out in the yard this spring and summer to create a more inviting space with a garden, cozier furniture for gathering 'round the chiminea, etc.

I am trying to destroy this notion of "what are we going to do today?" The answer will already be there. You may read, play in the yard, jump on your trampoline, play with your toys....we do not have to create out of the home activities. We pay a lot of money for our home. Let's use it.

While it will initially cost money to re-create these spaces within our home, when we think about how much less we will spend on out of the home activities, the home improvements feel like a no-brainer. Imagine what we will save on gas, admission prices, impulse purchases, etc.

We have started small, in the past week by eating most of our meals at home rather than out, and letting the kiddo stay in his pj's for longer on days we are home. By not creating the hustle and bustle of 'starting our day,' the whole atmosphere is more relaxed and flowed with a 'we'll get there when we get there attitude.'

I have been inspired by friends and neighbors who spend much of their time at home. Their homes are neat, organized and not inundated by stuff. I have even found myself more recently searching for items in my home to re-purpose, rather than go out and purchase something. Even things as simple as gift wrap and cards can be invented from items we have in our home. Last week we baked based on ingredients we already had in the pantry and fridge.

I realize I am not spouting rocket science, and many of my readers have already been doing this all along. But it is new to us, and still exciting. I am sure boredom will hit, and I am certainly not ruling out vacations and trips to museums, movies, etc. It is just that in the typical day-to-day we are simplifying. I have more than I realized already at my fingertips. It is very refreshing!