Sunday, February 28, 2010

Bad Boy!

One of the males in my house is a little jealous and behaving badly. My youngest is getting lots of attention at the moment (which he is basking in like the afternoon sun after a month of rain) and someone else seems to be bent out of shape. In fact, we were shocked to discover, a few mornings ago, evidence that he snuck out of the house in the middle of the night! I really didn't think I would be dealing with sneaking out for at least a few more years.

He made several critical errors which gave us plenty of evidence of the transgression. First, he left the front door wide open. He can open the door very sneakily but he can't close it.

Second, he left some muddy footprints behind.

Third, he had a really guilty look on his face.

At least I'm pretty sure he wasn't out chasing girls. He might have been chasing raccoons though.

A Star Is Born In the Knight

I think he is hooked. My youngest son loves being a part of the musical production of Once Upon A Mattress.
Here he is arriving at the theater in makeup for a performance and going in the stage door with a big smile on his face.

More pictures to come I hope from the meet & greet after the final performance tonight. He took off his knight hood the other day for the meet & greet "in case there were any paparazzi." See what I mean? I think he is hooked.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Cosmetology School for Stage Moms

My youngest son’s show is in final rehearsals and is opening tomorrow. His costume is ready, he knows his part, he has his dance shoes. Before the final dress rehearsal, I was asked to attend one final meeting as a parent: how to put make-up on my son. Stage make-up. Never did I ever imagine I would be attending a cosmetology class for stage moms as part of my experience parenting three boys. Just goes to show you never know what life has in store for you!

Hmm, I wondered, how would it go, coming at my son with sponges and brushes and a mascara wand? Would I have to sit on him or tie him down with bungee cords?

I told him all about why he needed to wear makeup and that we needed to practice putting it on, expecting a lot of push-back from him. He just said, “OK, can we do it now?” He had been adequately prepared by the director of the show and he knew that makeup was necessary to see his facial features from the audience. His face is the only part of his body not covered by his costume.

It was fun putting make-up on him. Weird but fun. Stage make-up is very dramatic. It makes his enormous green eyes visible from at least a mile away. In fact, in stage makeup he looks a little bit like a mini, blond, Adam Lambert. Which really freaks me out. After I did his makeup the first time, I couldn’t stop staring at him. His brothers took one look at him and averted their eyes, muttering, “That’s just weird.” When my middle son started to tease him, I told him I needed more practice and would use him as my next model. And there would be photographic evidence. That shut him up.

I think my son actually likes wearing the make-up. I’m not sure if I’m happy about that or freaked out by it. I guess I feel both.

This is Adam Lambert in case you don't know what he looks like (mom). This is what the eyeliner is supposed to look like. I think.

The Terrible Rotten No-Good Horrible Teenage Day

My oldest recently had one of the most terrible thirteen-year-old days ever. It was a Saturday and he would have liked to sleep in, but his mother (that would be me) signed him up to be a tour guide at his school’s Open House. But even before he could go and do that, he had a soccer tryout.

His soccer team from last fall had fallen apart and his teammates and coach scattered to other teams. Mourning the loss of his team, he went to a muddy, foggy, early morning tryout with unfamiliar boys and unfamiliar coaches. As he went to put his cleats on, he discovered his feet have grown in the past few months and they didn't fit very well.

Muddy and sweaty, feet cramped, he showed up for the Open House, changed clothes, and gamely toured potential kindergarten families around the school. Afterwards, he changed into his basketball uniform, went to his game, and he and his team promptly lost their eleventh game in a row.

Luckily, that evening we had planned on going to one of our favorite family outings: the crab feed at the Portuguese Hall in Santa Cruz. Driving to Santa Cruz, my oldest son brought his computer with him because he had homework to do. Trying to do homework in the car on a windy road made him a little queasy, so he couldn't get much done.

Arriving at the crab feed, we all sat down at the long tables. Armed with plastic bibs, plastic cups and paper plates, we waited for the enormous stainless steel bowls of steaming crab in tomato garlic sauce to be placed along the table. One of the families we were to eat with was late. Oh well, the crab could not wait. We started without them. My husband, sitting on one side of the table, asked my middle son to pass the bowl of crab to him. It was passed over my oldest, who was sitting directly across from my husband. When my husband went to grab the bowl, he didn’t have both hands securely on it and it tipped over away from him . . . and all over my oldest son.

At least a gallon of hot tomato garlic crab sauce and a couple hunks of crab landed right in his lap. He just sat there, so shocked he couldn’t move. My husband was just as shocked and didn’t move either. Just then, the family we were waiting for walked in, with their beautiful thirteen-year-old daughter. Seeing my son covered in crab, her mouth dropped open. In response he closed his eyes, grimaced, and asked himself "why me?” He was soaked from waist to shoes in crab juice. We didn’t have any clothes with us at all. I got him up and he waddled to the men’s bathroom where I had to just push him inside and tell him to take off his pants. I grabbed my middle son, who had two shirts on and very kindly offered to share one, and shoved him in the boy’s bathroom, instructing him to help with rinsing crab off the pants in the sink. Thank goodness my husband finally flew into action and went into the men’s bathroom too. A few minutes later, my son was set up in the bathroom, with his laptop, but without any pants, socks or shoes. He was just going to have to wait in there until we found him some clothes.

Fortunately we did find some clothes. Unfortunately, the only clothes we could find for him to change into were the basketball shorts that our friends' thirteen-year-old girl had just worn in her basketball game. Did I mention that the beautiful thirteen-year-old is taller than I am? The shorts were ridiculously long and went down to my son’s shins, but at least they were relatively clean.

Gamely, my son did come out of the bathroom and was able to recover and even dance to a few songs when the band started up. That took more strength of character than I had at thirteen years old. (Mom, I’m sure you will agree with me)

Maybe that is the difference between boys and girls. For a boy, it was a horrible day but then it was over. For a girl of the same age, I think a day like this would have been a trauma with far-reaching ramifications and a long recovery period. Think of yourself at thirteen, how would you have reacted?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Shot 'Heard Round the Field

Little League season is just starting. My middle son, playing in the Majors for his second year, has had a few practices already. One of the recent practices was a scrimmage game, and he was inordinately excited about the first game of the season, official or not. The sun came out, and it was a great day to play baseball.

Apparently, someone else thought it was a great day for target practice.

My son, warming up for his game on the Little League field, was shot. That's right; shot. On his right arm, his pitching arm. Luckily, he was shot with an airsoft gun and not a regular gun.

I didn't find out about it until the next morning when he showed me the bruise.

It is an understatement to say I was furious. I was enraged. My son got SHOT ON HIS LITTLE LEAGUE FIELD?? And he was so focused on starting as pitcher in a scrimmage game that he didn't think to tell anyone about it right away?

Our Little League field is at our local middle school, in the back behind the gym. On the other side of the field is the rarely-used railroad track, where a train goes by about once a week on it's way to or from a quarry in the hills. There is a fence separating the field from a hilly dirt area and the tracks. The shot came from this dirt area.

My son didn't think it was a big deal. And he didn't want anyone to get in trouble. My husband didn't think it was that big of a deal. But I did.

I fired off a letter to our Little League president, and then I called a friend, who knows everything about what's going on in our league. She was shocked. I called the police department to report the incident, and was satisfied to hear that the officer I talked to was concerned about this and urged me to call something like this in and they would respond immediately. I looked up the municipal code and found that discharging a firearm, including an airsoft gun, in public is illegal in our city. I drafted and emailed a notice to all the parents of my son's Little League team, and the team we played, about what happened.

The problem is, I don't know whether my son was shot by a middle-schooler out playing airsoft-gun-wars out in the dirt, or by a sibling of one of the baseball players participating in the game. I don't have much experience with airsoft or any other sort of gun, but I know that my son getting shot while playing baseball is wrong. Wrong in a big way. If the shot could cause a bruise that size from that far away, it could cause much more serious damage at closer range. And a child who would aim at and shoot another child snipper-style is headed down the wrong path. What can I say about a parent that permits or facilitates this behavior? Not much.

Two incidents involving professional sports and guns have been featured in the news recently, one with NBA star Gilbert Arenas of the Washington Wizards suspended indefinitely after he displayed several handguns in the Wizards' locker room. See this article titled Guns At The Game And Lessons In Sportsmanship. Then just this week Major League Baseball decided to ban guns, long knives, and explosives from the clubhouse. (Article here).

Really? So now it's the popular thing, bringing weapons to your professional sports job? I suppose I should feel lucky that we encountered an airsoft gun and not a firearm at the Little League field. The trickle-down from professional players to the Little League field is in so many ways an unfortunate thing. It really does make me sad that my son wants so badly to be a baseball player, and there are precious few people in the sport at a professional level for him to look up to. What mother wants her son to hold up as a role model a person who abuses illegal drugs, lies about it, then attempts a PR-event mea culpa? I encourage my son's interest instead in the history of the game and the great players of the past. His favorite movie is Field of Dreams, where great baseball players emerge from the past and talk about their passion for the game. My son probably doesn't realize that Shoeless Joe Jackson, portrayed in the movie, was banned from baseball for participating in a conspiracy to fix the World Series in 1919. Or that he was illiterate. OK, now that I think about it, these historic players weren't so great either. But at least they weren't shooting at each other!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Basketball Inequities

It's hard when you have three boys playing competitive basketball and one boy ends up loosing every single game in the entire season and another boy ends up winning the championship for his age division. To make matters even more interesting, they both play point guard on their respective teams.

My husband and I have really tried to make sure the winning player (my middle son) appreciates and can attempt empathy for his older brother who has had such a rotten season.

My oldest has been great. He has shown real maturity in handling his team's performance. Not to say he isn't frustrated and bummed. He is. But he can still have some fun playing and working on his own game. I have seen him play point guard with a toughness and intensity, and a mindful eye on the movement and strategy for the game, despite his team mates dispirited play and the wide gap in score. He didn't give up, even if at times he was so emotional about another loss that tears of frustration would well, but not quite fall. He still insisted on going to every practice, and showed up for every game.

And he could still show excitement and admiration for his younger brother's accomplishments.

I think he might have gotten a whole lot more out of the season than his brother who helped lead his team to victory.

My youngest has had a pretty good season, his team is doing well and he is a contributing member of his team, even getting to play point guard occasionally. But he is not quite old enough or mature enough to see the lessons that his older brothers are showing him; you don't have to be the best player out there, just try your hardest. It's all you can do and results may vary. Then again, he's got his theater performance coming up and his mind is really more on that than basketball.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The Shopping Trip

Yesterday I took my son on the dreaded shopping trip for the enigmatic "black jazz shoes" specified for his knight costume.

Hunting around online a few days ago, I discovered that this was something I couldn't buy without physically trying them on his feet. Sizing was wildly variable and had no relationship to regular boy shoe sizes.

My son was apprehensive about going to a dance supply store to buy dance shoes. I think he imagined a giant sign outside the store that screamed GIRLS ONLY IF YOU ARE A BOY WHAT THE HECK ARE YOU DOING HERE? I didn't think it would be that bad but I did imagine that it would be the kind of store that looked like a pink explosion had nearly knocked it off it's foundation.

Once I found the store in an unfamiliar part of town, we both steeled ourselves and bravely entered the double doors. My son made a bee-line for the back of the store, pulling me along, somehow guided by his shoe-finding radar. I was instantly fascinated and trying to move as slowly as possible to take in the merchandise stacked all the way to the very high ceilings. Profusions of cotton candy tutus, pink, flesh and black racks of leotards, Sarah Palin costumes and giant octopus costumes, racks of sparkly hair ornaments. We arrived in the shoe area and stood there with dazed looks until a very kind salesgirl asked if we needed help. It wasn't really a question, she could tell we did. We asked for black jazz shoes and she disapeared. Coming back with a few pairs to try on, she tried to engage my son in conversation. "What kind of dance do you do?" My son answered, "I don't." With a confused smile she looked at me and I helpfully offered that he was in CMT. Getting ready to try the shoes on my son, I really looked at him for the first time that afternoon and realized that his legs jutting out from his basketball shorts were covered in dirt, mud and what looked like tire tracks. He was a mess. A very boy mess. The salesgirl looked at him and said, "You play soccer?" He smiled.

Along came another customer in the shoe department. A man (boy?) of indeterminate age looking for ballet shoes. Black ballet shoes. When asked the inevitable "where do you dance?" from the salesgirl, he answered San Jose Ballet. He had his little pomeranian/chiuhuahua dog there too, which was also male. Looking over to see if my son noticed the maleness of the population in the store, I saw that his attention had been captured by the display right near the shoes.

Helpfully, the stockings and tights are on a large display right near the shoes. My son was curiously looking at all the packages of fishnet hose, thigh-high stockings, and garters. The photos of the models on these packages, torso-less, underwear-less, and provocatively posed could qualify for an R rating. Just as he pointed at a package and was about to ask me something about the garter-belt/stocking get-up on it, I grabbed his hand and made a bee-line for the register at the front.

Ha! The person at the register was a man! Ha! The customer in front of us was a man too!

The customer was a man . . . an older man, who clearly was NOT a dancer. Trust me on this. I stood the usual distance away. What was he doing? He was talking to the clerk, trying to decide on something, but I got the feeling that he would much rather be at the register alone. Without the mom and kid behind him. He gave us a few furtive glances. Then I saw that he was trying to decide between two items which appeared to me to be some kind of flesh-colored speedo/jockstrap/sling kind of things. Apparently he wasn't sure what size would fit. I involuntarily took a step back. I was overwhelmed by the momentary mental image of THAT customer wearing THAT item. Another step back. The clerk encouraged the man to take the slings to the dressing room.

Meanwhile my son is captivated by the display of crazy sunglasses near the register and is trying on a pair with lenses the shape and size of limes and trying to get my attention. "Mom! MOM! Don't you think Dad would like these?"

In the car on the way home I asked my son if he noticed that almost every person in the dance supply store was a man. And did he hear, one of them was even a ballet dancer. He looked at me with a curious expression and said, "No. Mom, I don't really listen to other people's conversations like you do."

A few minutes later he said, "Mom, I'm really glad I don't have to wear tights for this show."

I smiled, even giggled a little. "Me too."

Just wait until I tell him he has to wear makeup.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Finding Passion

No this is not a Valentine's Day post.

We have no awareness of the upcoming holiday in our house and that is just fine with me because I know it won't always be that way. No Valentine's Day passion this year. We have another kind of passion around here.

Passion for baseball. Or is it obsession for baseball? I'm not sure what the difference is.

A few years ago my father-in-law sent me a newspaper clipping of the cartoon below from his local paper. I have saved it because it is actually my son pictured in this cartoon.

Yes, my eleven-year-old son, soon to be twelve, has been sleeping with his baseball glove. It also comes to the dinner table with him. It sits next to him as he does homework. Yesterday I even saw him GIVE IT A KISS. I'm not kidding.