Wednesday, May 25, 2005

The Ponytail League Conspiracy

I'm loving another summer watching my daughter play ball. My only goal is to get through it, and remember the game dates and what day I bring the snacks. And of course, I want them to be safe and have fun. I'm happy with the minimum, y'know?

My daughter's goals are to make a play during the game, and not strike out. She is also very concerned about the color of her socks, and getting the jersey tucked into her shorts just right so the logo shows correctly.

We have basic goals. It isn't the world series, after all.

Grandpa, on the other hand, is stressing out. I have to listen to his commentary throughout each game. "The ball throwing machine's a piece of junk," he declares when the ball pitches wildly. He sighs in despair every time they miss a play or there's a strikeout.

Jeez Louise, these are only little girls. Why is it so important? There's a reason they don't keep a tally, but every game I'm aware of the 'score' by the parents sitting near me, who feel the need to add it up every time a girl makes it home.

During the game yesterday, they lost. They were out-matched. The other team had older girls. Luck of the draw I would think, if not coached by grandpa. He thinks that the coaches have handpicked their teams in some smoky back room. Some have plotted to get the older, more experienced girls in order to dominate throughout the softball season.

"A ponytail league conspiracy? I ask. The humor is lost on him, but my mother laughs. I'll never understand why the ball games are so important to some folks. It's just a game. At least I thought it was when we signed up.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Sleepovers and Worry Madness

My daughter is stressing me out. It’s been hard for me to let go of her, but bit by bit I’ve tried. She had a Girl Scout sleepover at the Children’s Museum this past weekend. I gratefully gave up the troop leader spot to another mother whose child was very shy. I worried and worried. I made her promise to stick with the group and “not leave the building for any reason." I hastily added “except if there’s a fire.” I had to leave then, and felt genuine despair. They were locked in. I nervously inquired at the desk before I left, "They can get out can’t they?" I’m such a mom.

She didn’t call me until well into the night, and I didn’t really expect her to call at all. I knew she’d be busy screaming and giggling.

When she did call, it was past midnight, and they were in the boy’s bathroom, the bathrooms the only place where the lights were left on. She was with three of her troop members and there was a lot of drama going on. Tears and loneliness followed by lots of giggles. They dipped their feet in the toilet. I’m not sure why. All I could think of was e. coli. I’m such a mom.

I nervously drove back to the museum the next morning at seven a.m., telling myself they would have called if she had been hurt. Or if she were dead. I kept telling myself as long as I didn’t see emergency vehicles out in front when I got there, she would be okay.

Well, she was okay. Better than okay. Much better than me, who succumbed to stress the next day and had to take to my bed.

I made her take a shower as soon as we got home, to wash off all the germs and silliness. I’m such a mom

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Backyard Sports - friend or foe?

Last night was the first practice of my daughter's ponytail league. I was shocked to see that my grubby little gal with the broomstick legs and knobby knees was a real scrapper. What happened to that dopey kid from last year who studied the clouds during key game moments, and stood on base waving to mom when she was supposed to be running to third?

I hate to admit it, but her addiction to Backyard Baseball over the winter has helped her understanding of the game. She really gets it now. She knows where to throw the ball and knows to run when someone else hits it. This might be a stretch, but I think she may even have more of an idea how to bat. Do you think that is possible? Will a video simulation of aim and strength of a hit transfer to real life experience? I'm not sure. But it seems to have helped. Or, maybe she has developed coordination over the winter, and it has nothing to do with the video games.

She has basketball camp coming up in a couple of weeks, and I must admit I'm hopeful. She didn't make one basket her first season,. The second season, she made baskets but never tried to shoot during a game until the very last quarter. I'm sports challenged, but I know enough to go with whatever works. I'll try to encourage some Backyard Basketball sessions before camp, and let you know how it goes.

Monday, May 02, 2005

Child Magnets and Sewer Rats

What do sewer pipes, dumpsters, basketball courts and feral cats have in common? They are all child magnets. We are fortunate that on our street all of these items combine into a thirty square foot bonanza so all the children have a fascinating place to play.

Hoards of cats raise families under a nearby apartment building, where they come and go through a cat hole. Outside the dumpster, large items like broken lamps and furniture form handy playground equipment. The sewer pipe, is, well, a great big dark hole. What more could you want?

There is one more thing this place has besides being a danger zone with germs, sludge, and rats with rabies. Gobs and gobs of kids. A parent's nightmare. No wonder my daughter wants to hang out there as often as possible.

I also used to be infatuated with sewer pipes. This was long before I’d seen the evil clown hiding below the street in Stephen King’s It.

Why do dirty dangerous places hold such a fascination for kids? Is it only because parents visibly cringe? Do children delight to see fright etched on their parent's faces? Does it make children feel powerful to go to move about without fear, proving they are more courageous than mom? I know as a child I loved the forbidden. Now it gives me the shivers to think about what might have happened to me in that sewer pipe if there had been a flood. And don't even get me started on the sewer rats.