School Should Be More Like Children’s Museums.


The trip (free by the way… have I mentioned that?) continues.

The NECC Conference is going great… so I hear.

Although I do see a lot of people with convention badges not actually attending the convention. Which means they are where I am. And I am most definitely not at NECC. Could they be taking a vacation on their school district’s money (again, I am merely sharing what I see… I am not here to judge)?

My spawn, the mooch, (it’s genetic) and I had the big decision of spending today at Sea World or the Children’s Museum. San Antonio Children's Museum.

We went with the Children’s Museum. Sure, it was a risky choice, but since they have air conditioning we took a chance and rolled the dice.

I made sure we arrived early (after a nutritional McDonald’s breakfast… I am such a good parent), in order to beat the crowds of evil snot-nosed children.

Why is it that you can’t find a peaceful children’s museum that isn’t packed with kids?

Life continues to be a mystery.

While at the museum, I noticed that all of the children were running around, being enthusiastic, asking questions, and racing from one display to another. They couldn’t have been more excited or engaged.

It was almost like they were afraid that they would miss out on something. Imagine that, there was more knowledge being dispensed than they could shove in their little brains.

They had displays on computer animation, instant messaging, magnets, fresh water fish, agriculture, electricity, the arts, geology, archeology, another ology that I didn’t understand, and birds… just to name a few.

It was exactly like school.

Well, not exactly like school. Did I mention the kids were excited?

Then it occurred to me as I entered the giant train engine (actually it occurred to me when I slammed my head into the top of the doorway while going into the engine… Note to museum staff: spend 2 bucks on a sign that says “Small Door You Need to Duck; Don’t Enter If You Are an Idiot”).

My thought was that schools should be more like children’s museums.

Interactive, exciting, learn at your own pace, learn from others, move around, ask questions, try, fail and then try again, and have so much fun that you don’t realize that you have been there for 6 hours and that the McDonald’s Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Biscuit … while tasty, has long ago worn off.

And on top of that, every school should have a life size cow that you can milk and water comes out of its udder.

It was cool.

The water I mean. How do they keep the water inside the fake cow cool?

Since humans can invent a fake milking cow (with what appears to be a very advanced refrigeration system), shouldn’t we be able to make school more exciting?

Society has come so far with technology, space travel, medicine, and fake cows. Can’t we move beyond worksheets, chalkboards, and being forced to sit in a desk every minute of the school day?

Again, life and our educational system continue to be a mystery to me.

I am glad my wife, the queen of technology, is attending NECC so she can answer all of these questions for me!

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Day 1 of Not Attending NECC: Looking for the Alamo, It’s Next to the Mall.


If You Took This Picture... Directly Behind You is a Ripley's Believe It or Not.  Sad.I made it to San Antonio. Barely.

My wife (in charge of reservations… because she has the money) made me get up at 3:15 a.m. to catch a plane (actually planes… I do love the non-direct flight).

Maybe flights are cheaper when my sleep is interrupted, or maybe she is a vampire. Who knows? I am not here to judge, as the first rule of being a mooch is keeping your mouth shut.

And if she is a vampire, there is no reason to rile her up.

I am too old for this. I am tired.

I did sleep on the plane for about 4 minutes. Now my neck will be sore for 6 weeks.

Plus, there is something about flying that makes me feel dirty. Literally and figuratively.

Is it just me or are airplanes giant metal infection zones? How many people before me have touched the seats, door handles, overhead compartments, magazines, blankets, etc? And more importantly, how many have washed their hands?

From my informal poll in the bathroom, about 1 out of 3.

But I am not here to share my neurosis (or the fact that I stare at people in public restrooms).

I am here to complain about the Alamo.

Not the battle or the building. Both are very impressive.

But it’s location.

It is next to a mall. Seriously. One of the great historic sites that our country has to offer and it is next to Dillards?

I wish I were kidding.

You can buy underwear AND learn about Davey Crockett and Jim Bowie all within a one block area.

I can’t make this stuff up. And it gets worse.

There is a Ripley’s Believe It or Not across the street. I can’t believe I got up 3 hours before sunrise, took two flights halfway across the country, ran through at least one airport, and got pulled out of the security line to get felt up just to see the Alamo and a mall.

By the way, I am batting a 1000 on the security thing.

I can’t win the lottery, but when I go to the airport I am the first person they yank out of line.

Ever since I went to the doctor this summer, I have become an easy target.

Ah, whom am I kidding? I am easy.

And disappointed. But I can’t wait to go back to the Alamo tonight. We are getting pizza at the food court.

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NECC, Here I Come. Sort of.


The Riverwalk in San Antonio, Texas.This Sunday I will be leaving for a very important computer conference. As a school administrator it is essential that I keep abreast of the latest developments in educational technology.

On a side note. I found the word essential on my new favorite website Synonym.com. Eventually, a monkey will be able to write this blog (or as some have insinuated, maybe a monkey already is writing this blog).

Personally, I find this last comment offensive. It is insulting to writing monkeys everywhere. They obviously are not writing this blog because the content would be of a much higher quality.

But, back to my trip/educational journey (sure I could be watching TV, mowing my yard, playing Wii, or going to play golf, but am willing to put in the extra time for the kids).

Since I am attempting to stay current with technology, I will be in San Antonio, Texas next week during the National Educational Computing Conference.

For almost three decades, NECC has been the premier forum in which to learn, exchange, and survey the field of educational technology. This annual conference “presented by ISTE and keyed to the National Educational Technology Standards (NETS)” features hands-on workshops, lecture-format and interactive concurrent sessions, discussions with key industry leaders, and the largest educational technology exhibit in the nation.

I didn’t write that last paragraph. As if you hadn’t already figured that out (Synonym.com can do only so much). It was quoted (stolen… whatever) from the NECC website.

It sounds like a wonderful event.

While I will be in San Antonio, I won’t exactly be attending the conference.

But the good news is my wife and mother-in-law will be.

Actually, it is good for them and great for me. You see they will go to the conference and attend about 297 sessions and then come back and tell me everything I need to know. In addition, they will come to my school and present their newly acquired information to my teaching staff.

Then I can facilitate in the application of the technology within my school district (remember, it is always about the kids).

This may sound like I am lazy, but that’s just not the case. I am actually being quite helpful.

During the conference I will be acting as babysitter, entertainer, tour guide, and tax write off.

My job will be to keep my daughter and I entertained and more importantly, out of trouble and out of the way. Our official title “Mooches”.

It really is a win/win. We get several days in San Antonio and my wife gets a tax break for her ever growing technology workshop business.

Plus, I get more knowledge about computer related stuff (granted, through osmosis… again, whatever it takes for the kids).

So, if you are going to NECC please keep in mind that I will be there (sort of). I will be at Sea World, or the Alamo, or on the River Walk, or at the Children’s Museum, or maybe on top of the Tower of the Americas.

If you have a moment and want to visit, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

So you can pick me out of the crowd, I will be wearing a t-shirt, khaki shorts, tennis shoes, and sunglasses.

I should jump right out at you.

See you at NECC. Or around NECC.

If you are running a small business and need a tax break (or two), please don’t hesitate to contact me at micsmith@principalspage.com. I am more than willing to help. Especially, if it is for the kids.

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School Teaches You That There are 3 Types of People.


Which One Are You?In my long career as a school administrator (alright, short but who is counting), I have discovered that each school year brings a new set of challenges.

Just when I think I have my job figured out, something comes along and surprises me.

Even with these new challenges, there are some things (headaches, burdens, nightmares… or feel free to pick your own word) that happen every year like clockwork.

You can count on some teacher turnover, student transfers, and there will be long-term employees who will retire or move on (to new jobs people… shame on you for thinking the worst).

In essence, the names of the characters change but almost everything else about a school remains the same year after year.

After going through several school years (okay, some years) of these challenges, I have come up with a theory on people in general.

This not only applies to schools, but it also works in civilian life (I am in no way comparing our educational system to the military… although, we might be better off if we had a stockade and everyone had to salute me… but I digress).

It seems to me that people come in 3 distinct types.

The first group is people who get it. In whatever situation they are placed, they just get it.

They understand what to do in their job, with their family, and have an overall common sense that allows them to be successful in life.

Even when things go poorly, they are still able to remain flexible and find something positive about every situation.

You can recognize this in teachers who were born to teach. This character trait jumps out during their first interview, in the course of their evaluations, and even when they are simply walking down the hall.

They get it. And probably have since the day they were born.

And I’ll bet if I had the opportunity to meet their parents, they get it also.

The second group is people who just don’t get it. This doesn’t mean that they are uneducated or lack intelligence; they just don’t get “it”.

You may be asking yourself what “it” is. I wish I knew, but I don’t.

But I do know it when I see it.

Life is a struggle and it is even harder when you don’t get it.

But, all is not lost with this group.

You can reason with members of this group. And sometimes they even listen (don’t get your hopes up… they listen sometimes, but not always).

Members of group #2 would include parents who come into the office at school extremely angry, but leave calmer and with a better understanding of the situation that brought them there.

They respond to logic and reason. You can talk them off the ledge so to speak. Sometimes it takes a while, but they eventually come around (unfortunately, a while can mean years, so hang in there).

The last group is the most difficult to understand. This is because when you first meet them, you want to believe that they are members of the second group that don’t get it.

That means you have hope for them.

Don’t.

The last group doesn’t get that they don’t get it. And no amount of logical reasoning will get them to change.

I am pretty sure they don’t want to change (see Bill O’Reilly or Keith Olbermann… they are happily set in their beliefs no matter how extreme).

Often times, they come from generations of people that don’t get that they don’t get it.

For those of you who work in a school, the best example I can give you is the following.

These are the people that threaten to sue.

And by sue, I mean they say they will sue… all of the time.

They believe if they mention a lawsuit, they will get their way. So, they threaten to sue you, the teachers, the coaches, the school, the state, or whoever is within a 4 block area at the time.

They don’t get it and they never will.

The good news is that most people you meet are in the first group. I know this because society continues to progress and evolve and that couldn’t happen if we were dominated by group number two or three.

And now for the bad news. I forgot to mention a group.

The fourth group is people who write blogs with theories about the first 3 groups. These people are sad and twisted (and borderline pathetic).

They fall into the group in which they think they completely understand everyone else, but yet don’t have a clue.

And they don’t know they don’t have a clue.

Yet, they continue to spout off their theories and think there are people out there who have the same warped ideas they do.

This reminds me of a certain blog, but for the life of me I can’t remember its name…

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My Father’s Day Gift: The House All to Myself.


Happy Father's Day!The family flew to Florida today. I didn’t go. Something about staying behind to work.

Oh, and I wasn’t invited.

Don’t feel bad for me. Sometimes it is a blessing not to be invited.

Plus my wife is letting me tag along to the NECC Conference with her (can you say tax write off… I feel like such a piece of meat… does she not know that I have feelings) and then we are going to Colorado on the family vacation. So that is enough travel for me for one summer.

Too much time in airports makes me a cranky administrator (alright, crankier).

They got on a plane for Florida early Saturday morning. They are meeting my daughter’s grandma and her aunt for an all girl’s vacation.

6 days for them in Florida. 6 days of them being in Florida for me.

This may sound harsh, but getting the house all to myself for an extended period just doesn’t happen very often.

Because of this opportunity, I didn’t want to be invited. It was the perfect storm for a non-invitation. You have Florida, beaches, the all-girls thing, and missing work.

Here are my reasons.

Florida isn’t my favorite spot because it is hot and full of old people (granted, I will be old soon), bad drivers (see old people, mostly from out of state), and it rains every day around 4:00 p.m. (just in time for the old people to get wet as they go to dinner… and no one likes the smell of wet old people).

Then there are the beaches. I know people love to just sit and stare at the ocean, but to me it is just sitting and staring at the ocean. I get it. It’s sand and water. How can you expect me to sit there quietly for 8 hours?

This goes against everything that I hold sacred.

My wife tells me I should read a book. Why fly 7 hours to sit in the heat and read. We have a library just a few blocks from the house (and it is air conditioned).

As I mentioned, it is also an all-girls trip. They will spend 6 days staring at the ocean and talking about… well I have no idea. I am assuming there will be lots of conversations about flowers, babies, clothes, and girl’s stuff that I don’t understand (actually I do understand, I just try not to think about it).

And I didn’t want to miss work (did I just write that?). Suddenly, I am feeling a little nauseous.

Normally, I would jump at the chance to skip out on work in June. School is out for the year and the beginning of next year seems so far away.

But it is that time of year when 3 or 4 teachers resign as they move on to new jobs.

This means I have plenty of work to do at school (I am guessing about 25 interviews before the hiring season comes to a close).

No time for the beach.

So I will be spending Father’s Day alone. All alone. By myself.

It’s great.

And so quiet.

I don’t think the Florida vacation was meant to be my Father’s Day gift, but it sure has worked out that way.

6 days of doing whatever I want, whenever I want. Catching up on yard work, golfing, and watching TV in peace (just for the record I am wearing pants as I write this, although not wearing them is certainly an option that deserves consideration).

This also means I am presently sitting in the house where the tempature is hovering around 57 degrees (and I don’t have to feel badly because the wife isn’t walking around wearing a jacket and stocking cap complaining that it is hard to Twitter when she can’t feel her fingers).

The only downside is that I can’t (or won’t) cook. I may starve to death. I think I can survive until Thursday, but time will tell.

The nice people at Pizza Hut were kind enough to provide me with dinner (along with the kind ladies at Subway who provided me lunch).

So the girls get to enjoy themselves in Florida and I get to do whatever I want for almost a whole week.

Don’t get me wrong, I will miss them. Quiet is great for awhile, but I am sure at some point it will get too quiet (I need some noise or else the voices in my head become too clear).

Before they left, I got to open my real Father’s Day gift.

Much to my surprise, my daughter purchased me a Nintendo Wii. It’s the gift she has always wanted.

Nothing says Father’s Day like your only child taking your money and buying themselves a video game.

Actually, I am glad she got me (us) the video game. It is a lot of fun (I didn’t realize how far video games have come since Pacman, Mario Brothers, Donkey Kong, Space Invaders and my personal favorite Frogger).

The whole family will enjoy it and get to spend time together (but not for a few days).

The downside is she has already called me 3 times from Florida to tell me that I need to practice while she is gone.

She needs some competition when she gets back.

And they will be back before I know it. Truthfully, in a couple of days I will be counting down the minutes until I get to see them.

In the meantime, I need to find some teachers and sharpen my video game skills.

But before I do that, I am going to sit on the couch (possibly wearing pants… haven’t decided yet) and enjoy the quiet.

Happy Father’s Day everybody.

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Sunburns are Bad for You, Who Knew?


As I concluded my visit to the doctor, he asked if there was anything else that I wanted him to take a look at (read this before moving on).

My first thought was he had seen enough of me to last us both a lifetime, and what else could he possibly want to see?

Then I remembered the red spot on the side of my nose. It had popped up last fall and had never gotten around to leaving (I had been thinking about naming it Mother-in-Law).

He touched it (thankfully, after washing his hands) and said it was a type of cancer. Not malignant, but cancer none the less.Don't Ask Me Why the Giant Sun is Wearing Gloves.

This type evidently pops up on people’s skin, often in their early forties (I am so looking forward to my entire body breaking down over the course of the next 30 years… good times… good times).

The mysterious red spot was most likely caused by too many sunburns during my misspent youth.

He said it needed to be treated, but it wasn’t that big of a deal. I wasn’t overly impressed with his diagnosis, because moments before he told me the same thing… “It’s not a big deal.” And it wasn’t, but his hands sure were.

The good (evil) doctor said I had two options. One, let him freeze it off with liquid nitrogen. Or two, I could make an appointment with a dermatologist and get a second opinion.

Since I knew where my doctor’s hands had been recently, I decided I could live without him touching my face so I went with option number 2. Plus, while I trusted him to work on one end of me, my face was another story.

So I was off to the dermatologist.

Nice man. He is Indian I believe (country, not from the old west).

He confirmed Dr. Big Hand’s diagnosis. Cancer, but not serious. And the cause was too many sunburns.

He asked me to estimate how many sunburns I had gotten as a child. My best guess… 2,456.

He said pale, white people should wear a hat. Even when inside (he is a hardliner).

I tried to explain that it wasn’t my fault. My parents had a rule when I was a kid. Don’t come in the house during daylight hours. Ever.

No exceptions; including broken bones, bleeding, or death. I was told that all of these things could wait until after dark. And if they couldn’t, tough.

Of course this is not completely true. Sometimes they would let us in for dinner before dark. Sometimes. Usually, they just sat our lunch on the porch and went back inside.

As I look back, we were treated just the opposite of convicts. They can’t get out and we couldn’t get in.

My parent’s thoughts on sunburns were that a really good one would set us up for the entire summer.

Get that first good monkey butt red burn in June, let it peel, and you were good to go until school started (during this same time I also received a head shaving in the front yard… bald all summer. My hair would grow back just in time for school pictures).

So my younger years consisted of not being allowed inside, sporting a bad haircut, and burning my skin to a crisp.

My parents didn’t know any better. After all, those were the days of talking to strangers, jumping off the garage roof, swimming in disease infested ponds, scraping up your entire body on a Slip ‘n Slide, and never applying sunscreen.

But know I am forty and the bill is coming due.

Is it possible that I am doing something to my daughter that will haunt her later on? Will I discover in 30 years that we were bad parents?

Time will tell.

In the meantime, I am going to buy her a Slip ‘n Slide. That is the most fun a kid can have while bruising over 97% of their body.

I look forward to watching her run at full speed, jump on it, slide through the grass at 107 miles per hour, and crash into the nearest shrub.

If she needs me, I will be watching from inside the house. And yes, I will be wearing a hat.

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Fit to be Tied?


Nothing Says Summer is Over... Like Me Putting on a Tie.Now that school is out for the summer, I have had some time to take a step back and reflect.

In the last couple of weeks, I have been able to contemplate the many accomplishments of our school district over the course of the 2007-2008 year.

I feel really good about our test scores, hiring decisions, the financial choices we have made, and the overall direction of the district.

As an administrator it is my hope that each year we can continue to emphasize discipline, structure, advancements in technology, and maintaining good relationships with teachers and parents.

So all in all, I would consider this school year an unqualified success. This is not to say that we don’t have plenty of new challenges to face in 2008-2009, but I feel we are on the right track.

But there is one thing that continues to bother me about school and my job as an administrator.

Ties.

I have touched on this subject before, but in my mind it is an issue that bears discussing again (and maybe again, or at least until I get some satisfaction or some golf shirts).

Who is the mental midget who thought it was a good idea to wrap fabric around our necks? I am guessing it was someone who was not employed in a 100 year old, 3 story brick building in which the scorching heat of August is unbearable.

And if that isn’t bad enough, this person decided we should hold our ties in place by making a really tight knot right against our necks.

Did they not notice that one of the neck’s primary functions is to allow us to breathe?

And if it isn’t bad enough that ties continue to affect my ability to take in oxygen (which seems to add to the quality of my life), they also constantly get in the way while I am eating lunch.

I am a simple man. I don’t ask for a lot, but during my lunch hour I do like to breathe and eat. Preferably without getting pudding all over my expensive tie (I don’t mean to brag, but some of my ties cost upwards of $20 apiece).

The only thing I can figure is the tie was invented by a woman, most likely a woman scorned.

Who else would have the necessary amount of pent up anger to make males suffer like this?

Another clue is that I notice female administrators seldom wear ties (and yes, by seldom I do mean never).

I am here to demand equal rights on this whole wearing a tie issue.

Why should males continue to suffer? It is time society takes into account the important roles we play in fatherhood, running schools, coaching our children’s sports, mowing the yard, and other stuff (I really don’t have any other stuff…pretty much all we do is work, coach, and mow. As a male I am confident enough to admit that we are quite simple creatures).

I say ties should be banned until something equally uncomfortable is discovered for women.

They should feel the pain that we are forced to go through up to 5 to 6 days a week (I am counting church…or the occasional Saturday school function).

It is time for all males to throw down the gauntlet (and their ties).

There is nothing more miserable than getting up and putting on a dress shirt and tie.

What? High heels are worse than ties. Are you sure?

Childbirth is more painful than a Windsor knot?

Really?

It’s that bad? This is the first I have heard of this. Why didn’t somewhere share this information with me earlier?

Okay, never mind. At least I can loosen my tie if it gets hot.

And as bad as ties are on a hot humid day, I don’t ever recall needing an epidural.

My guess is as you were reading this blog, you never expected to see it end with the word epidural. The amount of time reflecting on the state of my school year all the way to epidurals is pretty much an average 20 minute period in the day for me.

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Note to Self: Find a Doctor with Smaller Hands.


Today, I got an education. And I wasn’t at school.

It was time for my annual physical. I went to the doctor as a healthy, vibrant, only slightly angry, middle-aged man.

I left broken. And confused. And ashamed.

I arrived 20 minutes early for my appointment. Both bad ideas, arriving early and having an appointment.My Doctor Didn't Look This Nice.

It is always a terrible idea to show up early at the doctor’s office because I know that the wait will be at least 45 minutes. And the 187 pages of paperwork can only keep me occupied for so long.

After completing my thesis (paperwork), I took a moment (27 minutes) to read Highlights Magazine. This isn’t really relevant to this blog post, I just wanted to share my love for Highlights.

The wait finally ended and Nurse Evil took me to a cell in the very back of the office. I say cell because they always shut the door behind them when they leave. You think you can get up and walk out, but you can’t.

And believe me, I wanted to.

I asked myself why they had me walk 4 blocks to the back of the office, but that would become apparent to me in a few moments.

The doctor came in and talked about my blood pressure, exercise routine, and weight.

By the way I refuse to take advice on my weight (5’10”- 190 pounds) from a man who is 5’5”- 325 pounds… at least. He is about one cupcake away from getting rolled back into the sea.

When doctors graduate from medical school they should pass out mirrors along with the diplomas.

If I seem angry, you are quite perceptive.

After the doctor attempted to loosen me up with some small talk, he made his move.

No dinner, no drinks, no flowers. He simply said with a sadistic look in his eye, “How old are you?”

I responded openly and honestly (like an idiot). “I am 40.”

To which he replied, “Well, it’s time.”The Best Kid Magazine to Kill Time in a Doctor's Office.

I was hoping he meant… it’s time to conclude this appointment, or ask me how the school year went, or it’s time to talk about sports, or even it’s time to take a spoon and ram it in your ear.

Nope. I couldn’t get so lucky. At that moment I would have given my first born for a spoon.

He asked if I had ever had this done before. I am both married and a little shy, so of course not (does anyone ever say yes?).

Then he gave the order (because if he would have asked politely, I would have punched him in the neck and tried to outrun Nurse Evil to my car).

I will spare you the graphic details, but let’s just say, if I had tried to run, I may have tripped over my pants which were now located around my ankles.

At this point a very important question popped in my head. Why do doctors have such big hands?

The good news: I am healthy. The bad news: my life has forever been changed.

My old life, when I was innocent, pre-dates this horrifying incident, and now I must live my new life which is full of shame and horrific nightmares.

I would go take a nap and try to forget this terrible day, but I am afraid to close my eyes.

It did occur to me why they put me in the far cell.

They were trying to lower the chance that the children in the waiting room, who were enjoying the May issue of Highlights, would be frightened by my screaming/crying.

Didn’t work. I am a noisy one.

Thankfully, there are 365 days until my next appointment. And I am going to enjoy every precious second. Live life to the fullest.

Even if I am too ashamed to leave the house (I can’t run the risk of seeing the doctor at the grocery store… what if he wants to shake hands?)

And when I return next year, I am going to look Dr. Big Hands right in the eye and say “You look great. Have you lost weight? And I am 39 years old. Honest.”

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What Kind of Father Strikes Out Their Own Kid? That Would Be Me.


Even the Umpire Doesn't Like Me.We played our first game last night (of course I mean my daughter’s first game).

It pains me to announce that my career coaching girls’ softball has fallen to 0-1.

The important thing is that everyone had fun. And by everyone, I mean the girls on the team.

Parents and coaches were a little uptight. Everyone seemed nervous (and at times borderline miserable, and by miserable I mean certifiably nuts), so I don’t think the experience was quite as upbeat for the adults.

The girls did a great job hustling and tried their best. Unfortunately, one of the many life lessons that can be learned in sports is that your best doesn’t always translate into a win.

But that is okay. Victories can’t be judged entirely by a score; they should be judged on the effort put into the score (quick, someone call the bumper sticker people because I just had an epiphany).

Since this was our team’s first real game, it was also the first time these young ladies have experienced an official loss.

Sure, they have always had an idea which team “won” in soccer or t-ball, but as an upstanding God-fearing rule-abiding adult/coach, it has always been my job to tell the team that we weren’t keeping score so there was no winner or loser (we didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings).

To which the kids would invariably respond, we won 5 to 2.

Turns out kids don’t need a scoreboard to make them more or less competitive (adults are the only ones who think if we don’t tell them who won, they will have no idea… right).

Last night’s game provided a challenge for the whole family.

I had to coach and pitch to our team.

The Queen of Technology was in charge of coaching 1st base and keeping the scorebook (a huge obstacle because she was forced to use pencil and paper; no laptop or SmartBoard… it wasn’t pretty, she almost had a breakdown).

Oh yeah, there was one more person from our family who was involved in the game, our daughter (I have noticed that she always has time to play, but never time to clean her room).

Right before the game, I asked her if she was nervous. She responded, “Why?”

Wait until she is a parent and has to watch the games. Then she will truly understand nerves.

In our league the girls get 6 pitches to hit. If they don’t hit one of the six, it is a strike out (yes, we have gone from not keeping score to striking Miley Cyrus wannabes out right and left).

For the last week, I have been having a reoccurring dream in which my daughter is up to bat and I strike her out every time.

In the dream and in real life, it is not that she can’t hit (a switch hitter by the way; I am very proud), it is that her father can’t throw her a strike.

And with my lack of pitching skills, she fails miserably. Over and over, I strike her out, 87 times in a row. I hate that dream.

Plus, I don’t want to anger her. She could bide her time until her 18th birthday and then take over my finances while throwing me in a nursing home (trust me, she has a mean streak).

Watching your child participate in sports is both nerve-racking and exciting. You want them to be successful, but that isn’t always going to happen.

I have spent a good deal of my life playing and coaching and I must admit I don’t ever remember being so nervous before a game (although at my age, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast).

When it was her turn to bat all I could think of was… don’t cause her to fail.

I know in athletics and in life, she will fail often. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. There are many lessons to learn from not succeeding.

This I know (sadly from lots of experience).

I also know that I don’t want to set her up for failure. This means I was feeling the pressure.

She walked up to bat in all of her pinkness. She got in the batter’s box and turned and looked at me, then smiled (just like Moonlight Graham in the best movie ever… Field of Dreams). It was a great big, this is fun smile.

Me, I wasn’t smiling.

I got myself together and threw her a pitch. She swung and got her first hit.

She was thrilled (almost as much as mom) and I couldn’t have been more proud. And relieved. Really relieved.

Raising a child is tough.

Trying to throw a strike when you know a trip to the nursing home is on the line makes it that much harder.

She finished the game 2-3 with one strikeout, but had a great time. At least that is what she says to my face. Just to be safe, I am in the process of moving what little money I have to an offshore account.

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Just When I Thought I Was Out, They Drag Me Back In.


Softball... It's Better Than Soccer.Soccer is over.

Let’s all take a moment to comprehend the significance of this event. I would invite everyone over for a celebration of cake and ice cream, but I don’t have the time or the interest in having people in my house.

Plus, you don’t know where I live. And if you do, I just find that creepy (and a little sad).

While soccer has ended, I haven’t had much time off (it ended just in time; right before I went insane from watching a pack of 1st graders chase the ball… why can’t they just SPREAD OUT!?).

You see, the unemployed one’s softball season started about 12 seconds after the last soccer game ended.

My daughter literally walked off the soccer field and grabbed her softball glove (the pink one… don’t ask… something about it needs to match her outfit and her hair thingies).

I thought my coaching career had ended when I took my first job in administration.

My daughter doesn’t seem to have time to get a job, but she sure has time for soccer, softball, swimming, skiing, riding her bike, going to science camp, being a girl scout, and the 17 other things that we have to drive her to and from.

I have noticed that helping run a school district takes less time and organization than it does to schedule and provide transportation for her assorted activities.

As if being in charge of her taxi service wasn’t enough work for us, we volunteered to coach (again… won’t I ever learn?). Hopefully the Queen of Technology can whip up an Excel spreadsheet for the stats (although, now she prefers Google Spreadsheets, whatever that is).

Let’s all take another moment to ask ourselves… “Am I a glutton for punishment for coaching or just a moron?”

Don’t answer that, I think the answer came to me about 7 minutes into the first practice.

Have you ever tried to teach 1st and 2nd grade girls to hit, throw, catch, run the bases, and everything else that is involved in playing softball?

By the way, I don’t know why the 2nd baseman doesn’t stand directly on 2nd base, so I wish they would stop asking.

Coaching kids this age (or any age) can be complicated.

Plus, their hair is in constant need of being fixed. Although I must say they do look stunning in their matching pink shoes, shorts, gloves, batting helmets, and those hair thingies (when they stay in place).

Who knew NIKE made softball cleats with a pink swoosh on the side (actually the swoosh comes in many colors and it can be changed to match a certain young ladies outfit… which I have done 14 times… but never again… unless she asks and smiles at me).

I must admit that as much as I have tried to teach the girls, they are teaching me more.

The first thing I learned is that they don’t like it when the coach “accidently” hits them with a pitch. Sorry. I am doing the best that I can.

I have also noticed that hitting my own kid doesn’t really bother me. I am a horrible parent, but she needs to learn that the inside part of the plate belongs to ME!

Another thing is, while I knew this would be different than coaching junior high or high school boys, I had no idea how much.

Stay with me here. You may want to sit down.

The girls actually listen.

Yes, that’s right. Girls seem to listen better than boys.

Was I the only one who didn’t know about this?

You tell them to do something and they actually look at you and listen to what you’re saying.

And they don’t play in the dirt. Or spit. Or scratch.

Unfortunately, the girls can’t do everything we show them, but the important thing is they try.

I am astounded that I have stumbled upon this revelation of girls listening better than boys.

When does this stop? When do boys become the better listeners? What changes that makes us so attentive as husbands and fathers?

I hope someone out there knows the answer.

But if you Skype me, I probably won’t hear you.

SportsCenter is on and the louder you talk; the louder I will be forced to turn up the television… in my head.

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