Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Who's this game for anyway, them or me?

Ah the first signs of spring--the sun peeking through the clouds, the warm weather returning (before you laugh, we did have a coooooold winter by So Cal standards, but don't judge me), and Opening Day--little league for whole stinkin' town.  Pretty much everyone with kids in this small town joins little league when their kids are five, maybe even before, if they can.  We opted to stay out of little league last year.  T1 seemed way to squirrelly to focus on a game where he would need to stand in a field and pay attention to something going on about a mile away.  No, we chose to start this year.

When I went to sign up my very excited son, I learned that they had leagues for girls too.  T2 and T1 would both be part of this community wide event.  And I mean event.  Last year, when we tried to get kids over to play on Saturdays in spring, no can do.  Baseball game, sorry.  Maybe next time.  We were not going to miss it this year. They put them both on the same team.  How convenient, I thought.  This makes me so glad. No having to cart them to different practices and games that overlap.  Super.

So we show up on Opening Day and we see all of T1's cub scout troop are together on the Cubs (we're the Angels).  Then the rest of the first grade boys are on the Giants.  All the girls are on other teams for 7- and 8- year-olds who have been playing for 2 years.  When I ask them how they all turned up on teams with kids they know, they say, "Oh, we requested it.  These kids all played together last year." Our team has really little 6-year-olds and a couple of 5-year-olds.  None of whom we know. And none of whom played last year.

Here's the thing:  I am finding myself hugely bothered by this.  Why didn't anyone tell me I could choose a team?  Why didn't I put them in last year so they could be with their friends?  Won't they be angry when they have to play against all of their friends?  I guess my own insecurities come out.  I envision myself sitting in the stands, with moms I know, watching and cheering on our little darlings.  When we play the Cubs, I will see the moms I know in the other set of bleachers.  I might feel sorry for myself that I didn't get to be on that team.  But it's not about me, is it?  My kids aren't bothered that they didn't play last year.  They don't care that kids they know are on other teams.  They are not bothered by this at all.  They are loving getting to know all their new teammates.  And they love their coach.  Who's baseball for anyway, them or me? 

T1 with his team

 T2 checkin' her mit
Up at bat

On deck

I look at their smiling faces here, and I realize that little league is not about me being able to create a community of friends.  It's not about me feeling left out of the other team.  It's about them, learning to have fun in a sport that is about teamwork.  They're up to the task.  Maybe my maturity level needs to come up a bit.  And to think of it.  I thought they were too young..... 

Oh well, at least I got to go out to a fancy dinner afterward and order this:

Lobster salad from Crustacean


Fast forward to the next day's laundry.  Whose pants are whose?

It's gonna be a long season.....

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Discipline -- Part 3, The Harried Working Mom Version

I am always so amazed when rifts spring up between T1 and T2.  How could this possibly be happening?  I was so blissfully trying to do my job in snippets after the after-school follies of candy eating snack time and written torture homework.  They were playing.  It was pleasant with the trilling of happy child-voices engaged in the throes of childhood.  And then...the Grabber pisses off the Shrieker.  Oh well, bliss over.  Time to get involved.  Or is it? Maybe, but in a calculated way.

DG and I have followed this parenting program for five years, since the twins were 2 and wouldn't stay in their beds, with great success.  The philosophy is pretty simple: give children a routine, make clear expectations, descriptively praise steps in the direction of cooperation, and reflect their feelings.  Following the techniques really does result in a calmer, easier, and happier home life.  But it takes effort and energy--both rare commodities for a working mom.  I find myself slipping into habits of letting the kids go off on their own with no intervention from me until something erupts and then rushing in to solve whatever the problem is.  I accuse, raise my voice, try to "get to the bottom of this!" which usually results with more grabbing and shrieking as well as whining, crying, and screaming.  I love the harmonious sound of children trying to "one up" each other, don't you?

I've re-doubled my efforts of late, trying to bring the bliss back.  This morning T1 disrupted an Easter display that T2 had created.  She had left it alone thinking that it would remain untouched.  He came along, not knowing this part of her thinking, and took it apart.  She yelled as she is wont to do.  He ignored her as per his M.O.  But DG and I came in and calmly reflected her feelings of being upset.  She cried some more about how long it took her to make it and how she'll never be able to do it again.....and then it was over.  In. about. 2. minutes.  That's all.  If I had tried to get her to stop crying, it would still be going on now.  They re-played the scene again, this time doing it correctly: she politely asked him to leave her display alone.  He said okay, and he asked me for something similar to play with.  Joy, and off they went.  DG and I secretly high-fiving each other behind their backs.

The lesson is that even though it seems so grueling to take time away from the busy day-to-day to actually parent my children, I know that this is what I ultimately want--confident, self-reliant, cooperative children who I enjoy being with.