This makes me laugh.
Sometimes, it’s nice to see things from a child’s perspective.
from Kid Snippets.
This makes me laugh.
Sometimes, it’s nice to see things from a child’s perspective.
from Kid Snippets.
Actually, it’s not a story about a seedy hotel, but that doesn’t matter.
You are here for the gross part and I’m not about to disappoint.
Let me start at the beginning.
The Evil Spawn was wrapping up her summer season of softball, so we had one final trip.
I say summer season, because next year starts in about 8 minutes because June 2013 is just around the corner and we’ve got to get these girls practicing (sarcasm alert!).
Since we had this one last tournament and we were tired of living in No Tell Motels, we had the ingenious idea to rent a house.
It would be fun.
It would be close to Lake Michigan.
The whole family together.
It would be like a vacation, except for the fact that 14 hours a day we would be sitting in lawn chairs at some faceless softball field in 197 degree heat.
Actually, it’s fun. Except for the part where your underwear starts sweating. I hate that.
One would think a person’s underwear would dry out in extreme heat, but it’s just the opposite.
But, I digress. We rent this house and it seems like a great idea.
I probably wouldn’t have done this 10 years ago, but now with the interweb it’s just so simple.
Pictures online. Reviews by other God fearing kind-hearted folks.
What could possibly go wrong?
Turns out a lot.
The pictures didn’t exactly reflect the level of disgusting that wrapped itself around the house like a thick winter coat on a chubby 4-year old.
Turns out people who rent their homes for money don’t use the word "filthy" or the phrase "should be condemened" when they are trying to make a buck.
I should have realized we had a problem when cockroaches met us at the front door. And they were on their way out.
The look on my wife’s face as she was sentenced… I mean walked in to this rental property was disturbing. She looked like a teenage girl in a horror movie when the phone rings and the call is coming from inside the house.
She was scared. And rightfully so.
The highlights were as follows: old food in the refrigerator, a mysterious hair attached to the TV remote, enough trash hidden under the raised cabinets to start your own dump, and a cat in the corner of the bedroom.
Actually, it wasn’t a cat.
It was a dust bunny in the shape of a 47 pound cat. I swear it growled at me when I reached down to pet it.
I was afraid to turn on the lights. Not because I didn’t want to see more dirt, but because I was frightened to touch the light switch. There was a layer of something on it that reminded me of a petri dish.
I could go on and on, but it gives me the willies and I feel like I need to save part of this story for my therapist.
And as a favor to all of my loyal readers, I’m not even going to tell you my theory on the mystery hair.
My wife tried in vain to find a hotel room for us to stay in, but they were all booked. Turns out Priceline and William Shatner couldn’t save me on this night.
So I went with Plan B.
I slept in my clothes.
I did survive the night, but then I had to use the restroom and shower.
Honestly, in my 44 years on this Earth, I don’t recall feeling dirtier after a shower than before. And I grew up in an era where you showered after high school PE.
Something positive did come out of this experience (besides the partial refund).
I have a whole new respect for my wife’s fear of portapotties (she can’t be the only one who would rather explode than take one step into these plastic boxes of infection).
Actually, now that I think about it, I would have been better off sleeping in a portapotty.
As an added bonus it was our wedding anniversary.
Another year of watching parents put unrealistic expectations on their child.
Here are the facts.
Most kids won’t play sports in high school.
Almost every kid won’t play sports in college.
There’s almost no chance you will know anyone who plays professional sports.
Your child has a better chance of being a brain surgeon than playing baseball for the Cardinals, basketball for the Lakers, or football for the Cowboys.
If you weren’t a great athlete, the odds of your child being one are slim to none.
There’s no amount of practice, coaching, or throwing money at the situation that will improve your sons or daughters enough if they aren’t born with special athetic abilities.
Also, screaming at the umpire or referee won’t help. They really aren’t there to keep your child from being successful (note to self).
The truth is if you were an average athlete, your child will likely be an average athlete.
Parents who are 5 foot 8, seldom have children who are 6 foot 7. If you were slow, guess what.
If you got cut from your junior high team, don’t plan on your son or daughter participating in the Olympics.
This doesn’t mean kids shouldn’t participate in sports.
It doesn’t mean they have to be great to play.
It just means parents need to be realistic.
The truth is, when your child is 40 no one cares if they hit the ball, scored a basket, or even played when they were 7.
Sit in your lawn chair and enjoy it.
That’s it. That’s all there is.
There’s no college scholarship or huge contract coming your way.
Just ice cream after the game. And that’s good enough.
I blog about what I know.
Maybe that’s why I don’t blog more often.
These days, the Evil Spawn is the center of our universe.
Not because she’s a good kid. Or an only child (this only applies if you don’t count my son, Buddy the Dog).
Everything revolves around her because she’s involved in everything.
Basketball. Softball. Piano. The drums. 4-H. Church choir.
You name it and she wants to be a part of it (except cleaning her room… because I’ve named it… and she wants NO part of it).
Which means we are busy.
I’m not sure who decided 10 year olds can’t drive, but they obviously didn’t have a 10 year old who needed to be transported to 8 different things on a Tuesday evening.
This new kind of life for children is an adjustment for me.
When I was a kid back in the late 70′s and early 80′s we weren’t nearly this busy.
We had time on our hands.
We rode our bikes.
We played in the woods.
We threw rocks in ponds. And at street signs. And at trains (don’t judge me).
We complained about being bored.
Now it’s all different.
There are practices. And games. And camps. And uniforms to wash. And overnight trips.
Mostly, there isn’t time to sit around and watch the world pass by.
I don’t think this new world is all bad.
But it’s certainly different.
I can’t imagine what things will be like when The Evil One is a parent (scary, I know… but yes, she will one day give birth to the Evil Grandchild).
I can’t imagine kids will be busier than they are now, but what do I know (to review… I think we established I know little or nothing earlier in this blog).
I do think I have a solution. A law.
A law that makes it illegal for children under the age of 16 to do homework in the car.
This wouldn’t solve all of the worlds problem, but it would certainly slow down youth sports.
The Evil Spawn loves sports.
I used to.
I don’t remember the exact date my relationship changed with athletics, but it was around the time I became a principal.
That’s when I started watching the crowd instead of the game.
No longer was I focusing on the players.
Now I got to spend hours and hours watching people scream.
Scream at the game. The referees. The coaches. The scorekeeper. The players. And on very special occasions when they just couldn’t take it anymore… each other.
I’ve never understood this.
If you ask parents (and grandparents), they will tell you they love their children’s games. They look forward to them.
They plan their schedules so they can be there. They make sacrifices to get their children to practices. They commit their hard-earned money to shoes and equipment.
Yet, as I look up into the crowd I don’t see a lot of happiness and smiles.
I see anger, paranoia, nerves, and bitterness.
Why is this?
Why can’t people take athletics for what they are.
They are a moment in time. They are life.
And just like life, they don’t always turn out the way you want.
Sports should be used as a teaching opportunity on how to deal with success. And failure.
How to get along with others. How to find your place in a situation bigger than yourself.
How to lose (and just for the record… losing is okay).
Kids should grow up and only have wonderful memories from their time participating in athletics.
They shouldn’t leave the experience with a headache from all the screaming.
Everyone has a tendency to see the world from their own unique perspective.
Democrats see it one way.
Republicans see it another.
It doesn’t make them wrong.
Actually, it makes both sides wrong and absolutely clueless, but that’s another blog (is a Moderate 3rd Party too much to ask for?)
Students see the world differently than teachers.
Young adults have different ideas and views than older ones.
It’s good to have diversity of opinions.
You see it in music. Every generation is drawn towards a new (and usually louder) style.
Every prom since 1900, parents have been convinced the world is about to end because of the inappropriate way teenagers dance (personally, I blame Glenn Miller, Elvis, Axl Rose, and Lady GaGa).
Of course, they’ve all forgotten how disturbed their parents were when they danced (little heathens).
But these differences are good.
They’re what makes the world go round (actually it’s love).
I see the same thing with parents and coaches.
They couldn’t be more opposite in how they view things.
And by things, I mean playing time.
Coaches aren’t perfect (trust me, I was one… in a life far far away).
They may not play the same players we would, but they believe they’re being as fair as possible.
Seldom are they not giving someone a chance because it’s part of a sinister master plan.
Parents see things from a different angle.
Usually the same angle they first viewed during childbirth (which by the way… wasn’t the most pleasant sight for me…).
They are locked in on their own kid, sort of oblivious to everything else (and all the other people’s children).
I came up with this theory (and thousands of other ones) over the course of talking to hundreds of parents.
I’ve yet to meet the mom or dad who is upset because the coach plays their child TOO much.
After all of these conversations about how a coach is ruining everything (i.e. college scholarship), I’ve yet to hear the following even once.
My child shouldn’t be starting. My child shouldn’t get so many__________ (shots, serves, at-bats, carries, receptions, goals, hits, spikes, chances, opportunities, etc.).
I’m still waiting for the parent who requests a coach who yells more, practices less, and pays little or no attention to their kid.
I keep thinking after all of these years, I will eventually run into someone who sees what the coach sees.
But it’s never happened and probably never will, but I guess that’s okay.
The coach shouldn’t see things the same way parents do.
After all, the parents were at the hospital the day their child was born and the coach was probably at practice.
And those are two way different jobs.
The following are Hockey Canada Public Service Announcements.
They should be required viewing by parents.
And it wouldn’t hurt coaches to watch.
Because nothing brings out the “Idiot Gene” like athletics (or any extracurricular).
It’s amazing how silly these comments seem coming out of kid’s mouths.
I have gone through different stages in my life.
From long-hair to shaved (again, way cooler than bald). From student to superintendent (I haven’t been out of school since 1972). From poor to making money and still being poor (why do bills arrive in direct proportion to the amount of money you earn?).
Politically, I’ve gone from being a Democrat to Republican to Independent to Disenchanted to Just Confused and Hurt.
I’ve also been through stages regarding the amount of importance I place on athletics.
When I was a kid, there was nothing more important.
My world revolved around anything and everything that involved a bat, ball, club, basket, goal, or a game.
I knew every player (and their stats… and sadly, birthday) in every league. Including hockey and indoor soccer (Go St. Louis Steamers!!!).
Losing does that to you.
After giving up coaching (I think it was my decision), I became a school administrator (also, my decision… I think).
At this point in my life I began to see athletics were just one of the many things that drove me crazy and made my phone ring (landline… old school).
Sports became less fun and more of a hassle.
I began to see athletics as a bother. I was confused as to why parents didn’t care about testing as much as they did about sports.
Now I’m starting to come full circle.
Maybe I’m growing. With age comes wisdom (at least that’s what old people tell young people). Or more likely, I’m just a little less stupid (I’m so old, I remember when stupid was a bad word in school).
As I head into my golden years, I’m beginning to see there’s nothing more important than athletics. Especially to a small town.
It’s the one thing that ties people together.
Successful small-town sports are like the Olympics. People will support them even when they don’t personally know the participants.
Or understand the game.
I don’t have a clue about curling, but I’m the #1 fan every four years when the Winter Olympics is on 27 hours a day (USA! USA! USA!)
Community members behave in much the same way. They may not like football, but if their favorite bag boy at the grocery store is the quarterback… suddenly they have a rooting interest.
They like the feeling they get when their team is doing well.
I’m willing to bet I could go to any town in America and spot a person wearing their high school colors within 2 minutes.
This is because people love belonging to a group. This feeling is magnified when the group (team) is successful.
Schools and sports can provide this at a local level.
And at a much cheaper price than college or professional sports.
This is why, now and forever, people will always be more passionate about their kids (or neighbors) playing a game than they will about test scores.
It’s just more fun.
I’m not saying this is right. I’m just saying this is the way it is.
Softball season is over.
It’s another milestone in my daughter’s life.
Each sport she plays seems to come and go so quickly (except soccer… which drags on… and then drags on some more).
I’ve said it before, time (and her childhood) are moving by at a breakneck pace.
And yet, I don’t seem to age.
Maybe it’s good genes. Maybe it’s dementia.
When her last game ended, she was presented with the traditional Medal of Participation.
If you play… good or bad… you get a generic softball necklace (see picture).
This keepsake will undoubtedly get shoved into her bedroom drawer of abyss. This means it will never be seen again (until we kick her out of the house and reclaim her room as our new office).
The medals are nice, but they seem so temporary (it’s possible many were lost on the trip home).
This isn’t how my generation was raised.
When I was a kid (the 80’s… or the golden years as I like to call them), winners were given trophies and everyone else got nothing (and they liked it).
Now we have to make sure everyone feels good about themselves.
Wins and losses take a backseat to feelings and self-esteem.
This has always seemed odd to me. Life used to be simpler. Twenty years ago you could easily identify who won the game.
Now everyone is treated the same.
Call me crazy, but there was something to be said for one team parading a gigantic trophy (usually plastic) around the field while the 2nd place team stood off to the side and cried their eyes out.
It was simple and straightforward.
If you wanted a trophy, you had to practice. And work.
Then practice some more.
It was what made America great.
The people who worked the hardest got the biggest rewards.
But things are different now.
I’ve always felt it was wrong to reward kids simply for participating.
I don’t do this often, so pay attention.
I may be changing my mind.
Yesterday, I saw one of my daughter’s teammates at the grocery store (a full 48 hours after their last game and the awarding of the Medals of Participation).
Much to my surprise she was wearing her medal.
And she was very proud of herself.
Not because she was the best player or the team who won the championship (sadly, she wasn’t and they didn’t), but because she played.
And she has the medal to prove it.
So maybe… just maybe… I’ve been wrong. Maybe participating is more important than winning.
The Evil Spawn is growing up in all kinds of ways (and some are starting to make me terribly uncomfortable).
She’s aging (9 going on 27). Her sense of fashion is evolving (heavy on the Bling-Bling). Her sense of humor is getting slightly more sarcastic (must get that from her mother). She taller (she’s grown 97 inches in the last 3 days).
I knew these would be inevitable.
She’s also growing up in regards to sports.
If I’m being honest, I have to say watching little girls play soccer, basketball, and softball can be challenging.
Actually, I don’t mean challenging.
I mean painful.
It’s worse than watching paint dry. It’s like watching paint being spilled. Over and over again (and the girls spilling it don’t seem to understand any of the rules of the game).
She is now at the age where girls are starting to separate themselves. It’s becoming easier to see the difference between the flower-pickers and the girls who really want to play (not that there is anything wrong with picking flowers…).
As a parent, I wasn’t prepared for this quick transition.
In softball, it’s gone from girls not being able to catch, throw, or hit to travel teams, expensive batting helmets, and pitching camps.
It’s all happening way too quickly.
I knew I wouldn’t be prepared for her growing up, but I didn’t realize it would all happen so quickly.
The bad fashion sense and smart aleck comments I can handle (and maybe even trump).
But I had no idea about the Parent Nerves.
This is a concept that I didn’t even know was a concept until this year.
Turns out watching your child compete in sports is much more difficult than playing them yourself.
I thought it would be fun, but I was wrong. It’s less fun and more stressful.
When the Evil Spawn plays, I have this strange feeling overtake me.
If feels like I’m going be sick at my stomach (a nice way of saying I’m about to throw up all over my shoes).
The feeling is a combination of public speaking and riding a roller coaster (or spiders crawling up your nose just as you fall asleep… and good luck dozing off without thinking about this blog).
I really believed watching her would be an enjoyable experience. Maybe even peaceful.
I envisioned myself being the proud parent who just stood on the sidelines and smiled.
It’s nerve-raking and traumatic.
My last words of encouragement before she heads onto the field…
… “Don’t embarrass the family name.”
Maybe it will get easier over time.
Or maybe, I shouldn’t have reproduced.
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