Monday, May 24, 2010

Any Old Rounded Object

My middle son loves balls. Soccer balls, basketballs, super balls, baseballs, sparkly rubber balls, any kind of ball.

He throws, kicks, dribbles, catches, tosses, and just holds them all the time, even in the house, even when it is a clear violation of our house rules. Yes we've had the proverbial Italian light fixture broken by a flying soccer ball when we first moved into our house years ago.

Did you know that an egg is a kind of ball? He enjoys my "funny" reaction to his tossing a raw egg about the kitchen, up almost touching the ceiling. Not funny when he has to clean up raw egg. Not to worry, the dog loves raw eggs. The dog cannot reach the ceiling, so it is very lucky for my son's longevity that the egg landed on the floor and not on the ceiling.

Yesterday a friend who plays baseball on my son's team was over. Unbeknownst to the adults sitting around talking, the friend and my son were enjoying a little game of waterballon toss IN HIS ROOM. Why play outside? There is no sense of danger. We all know that a water ballon toss ends only one way. Turns out the dog is not so big on cleaning up plain ol' water from the floor. I didn't tell my son this, but again I was happy that the ballon broke on the floor and not on the ceiling.

I did ask him which one of them dropped it, just because I was curious. The drop was a combined result of a bad throw from the loft and a failed diving catch from the . . . I didn't want to hear the rest.

Bad Mom

I feel like a bad mom. I just found out that my youngest son's Little League team is the number one seed for his AAA division and I'm NOT VERY HAPPY ABOUT IT! What kind of mother is upset that her son's team is doing well?

My youngest son auditioned for a local production of High School Musical 2 earlier in the month and has been cast as a Pool Boy and Lava Posh. Yes, I laughed hysterically when I found this out. He is pretty excited about it because in rehearsals so far he gets to serve a drink to Sharpay and to dance on top of a desk. I'm not sure, he may even get to wear his bathrobe, we'll see.

So we knew that play rehearsals, Little League, and the end of the school year would all clash somewhat. But it really would be much much easier if his baseball team wasn't doing well and we could predict the end of the season. But no. Now we start playoff games, which are impossible to plan for since you don't know when you are playing until you win or lose each game. If his team wins the playoffs then there is another series of unpredictable games. And the play rehearsal schedule is absolutely not flexible. And then my husband just told me my youngest is being asked to play on the All Star team, which just about sent me into calendar apoplexy. NO!! I cannot jam one more activity in there! I refuse!! So my husband sat and poured over the excel spreadsheet in 7 point type detailing out all the rehearsals to see what gives. I'm not sure what he discovered because I went upstairs, got in bed, and pulled the covers over my head.

My middle son's Little League team is also the number one seed in the Majors division. We now have our playoff schedule, or at least the first two or three games. After that, it's completely unpredictable. And he will play All Stars too. But that's OK, we have planned for all that. Except no one planned for the unseasonal rain that may or may not fall this week, throwing my entire calendar into a blender with random dates and commitments flying out and splatting on the floor.

So my mantra for the next two weeks: take things day by day. Live in the moment. Don't worry about that which I cannot control. Enjoy where I am at this moment.

I'm going to try anyway.

If you see me meditating in my car (which needs to be washed), don't disturb me. I will be getting centered. Or I'm sorting through a pile of tournament spreadsheets.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Hugh Hefner and the Double Digit Household

Wow if that is not an interesting title for a blog entry, I don't know what is. I think it has more meanings than I intended.

May is a frenetic month in our house. And I mean frenetic in the exact definition of the word: wild and uncontrolled. We are going here and there, doing this and that, living day to day with little time for reflection on the fact that birthdays are happening, Little League playoffs are coming, and summer is looming just over the horizon.

There are precious little moments when I can think rather than do. This goes for the whole family. Sometimes this kind of distraction can be welcoming but in May it is always a little much, and it happens every year.

My list of things going on is dizzying. Two boys in Little League, one husband coaching and working several full-time jobs, one boy in soccer, one just auditioned for a musical with rehearsals starting (gulp) tomorrow, one doing cross country, volleyball, and softball at school, one starting choir, end of year homework projects, building boats of cardboard and duct tape (I just figured out this is PE homework), Gold Rush Day, art show at school, it could go on and on. Add to that two birthdays; my middle and youngest turn twelve and ten. It is the end of single digits. We are now permanently in the double digits in this house. And now, thanks to a birthday gift, we have Hugh Hefner living with us. More on that later.

In May our normal healthy family fare is thrown out window and we are using the Little League snack shack, with it's substandard nutritional content, as our personal restaurant. I actually had a dream the other night that my boys started eating candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner, all from the snack shack. I woke up feeling irritated and guilty. I proclaimed that the eating of candy shall end, which shall be honored . . . until . . . until the next visit to the snack shack when I feel a craving for a Reese's to get me through the evening until dinner. I mean REALLY, I'm not the one with braces in my house. Then I went into my kitchen late in the night and made hard-boiled eggs, homemade yogurt, and whole wheat blueberry muffins to assuage my guilt. Nutritional snacks are in the house! For a day or two anyway.

In all the goings on this month, I have noticed something happening that has produced the most curious mix of emotions in me. No, it's not the candy consumption. It is the awareness that love is in the air. It must be spring. My older two boys are thirteen and almost twelve, and they are becoming more aware of girls. Or vice versa.

It's the vice versa that is getting to me, particularly in regards to my middle son. One day recently I noticed that there were some girls at his baseball game. I was pretty sure they were not there because they are avid Little League fans, but I didn't know why they were at the game. Then I overheard them talking to my youngest and suddenly I realized what they were doing there. They were there to watch my son. Gulp. Are these groupies? Since I was certain that my middle had no idea they were even there, I didn't worry much. He was blissfully ignorant. But how long will that ignorance last? With my youngest fully aware of the situation, I don't think it will be long.

Then, at a recent family event at school, I was observing my middle son from the fringes and was mildly surprised and pleased to see him dancing. Yes, dancing. Even a little break dancing. When and where did he learn how to do that? Then, still watching him out there having fun, I became aware that there were quite a few girls around him. I stopped watching him and watched the girls. WAIT a minute, there are not only 6th grade girls hanging around him, there are 7th grade girls too! I wanted to run out and tell those thirteen-year-old girls to get away. I momentarily became an overprotective crazy mother with a wish to preserve the young innocence of my little boy from the brazen attention of make-up and brassiere-wearing, hair-flipping teenage girls. But clearly he is not a little boy anymore, he is a handsome almost-twelve-year-old, who as one friend recently told me, looks fifteen. And any day now he is going to be enjoying, instead of being annoyed by, the attentions that are directed his way. Much like his thirteen-year-old brother is experiencing.

I have an overwhelming sense of "Oh here we go!" We are on the rollercoaster of adolescence and starting to pick up speed. I have picked up my copy of Your Ten- to Fourteen-Year-Old by Lousie Bates Ames and intend to read it cover to cover now as it spans all the boys in my house. The subtitle says it all: from peer pressure to sibling rivalry to sexual awareness. There is a whole chapter on mother-son relationships. I'm scared to read it.

All this going on in our house is why my husband and I think it is so funny that our youngest has the new nickname Hugh Hefner. Unlike his brothers, he is still a little boy, roaming the house all day in his new bathrobe. It was number one on his birthday wish list and he wears it any time he is home. He also wanted a fan for his room, which he feels is often too hot for him. So he sits in his room, in front of the fan, wearing his cozy bathrobe, perfectly happy. A mini Hugh with his own personal wind machine, a force of personality his brothers will begin to appreciate when they realize he is already talking to the girls they want to talk to.

It's going to be a wild ride. Wait, it already is one.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Elmo Makes An Interesting Topic of Dinner Conversation

The good news: my two older boys have paid attention and learned a lot from the puberty education/sex ed they have had in school.

The bad news: they have paid attention and learned a lot from the puberty education/sex ed they have had in school.

My seventh grader has been studying genetics in science. He is doing a fun project involving Sesame Street characters, where different traits are genetically passed down to babies created from two parents. These traits include lip color, body color, eye placement, nose color, etc. It seems to be a fun and very visual way of learning about dominant characteristics and smacks just enough of reproduction to make it very interesting to a thirteen year old.

My seventh grader was explaining how this all works over dinner the other night. It was just my two older boys, myself and my husband. My youngest wasn't home.

I was following the conversation with part of my brain while the other parts were preoccupied by a busy stressful day and also by something I had heard on NPR earlier which I found fascinating and wanted to talk about.

So when I heard my middle son say something like, "You can't beat the fastest swimmer," I launched into what I had learned that day about being the fastest or best at something.

"Did you know that it takes something like 10,000 hours of practice at something to get really really good at it? That's a lot of practice! And it's not just any practice, it's concentrated practice, you have to focus. You know . . ."

I took a bite of pizza and looked up to see both boys staring at me, faces white. My husband, with eyes wide, interrupted me, saying "I don't know what YOU are talking about, but WE are talking about sex!"

Amidst all the laughter I was flummoxed. It slowly dawned on me, the implications of my 10,000 hours of concentrated practice comment. I think I actually felt a blush coming over me. One of my kids had made a joke about sex and it went right over my head. I'm really not ready for this kind of role-reversal. But the boys and my husband, they thought this was one of the most hilarious things ever.

I tried to think how to redeem the situation. I had just mistakenly extolled the virtues of many many hours of practice with sex. "Well," I said, "you just don't want to be a father before your time."

"Oh God! MOM!!" they shouted, wanting me to just stop.

So last night, when the topic of Sesame Street genetics came up again over dinner, I was determined to keep my mouth shut. My oldest showed us a round piece of paper.

"Look, this is Elmo's sperm."

This was followed by hysterical laughter from all the boys, which went on for at least the next hour.

I've said it before:

Boys. I really don't get them sometimes.
I will never look at this picture in the same way again.