Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Way Boys Play

When it's not feeling hectic and crazy, it is so fun to watch all three of my kids play soccer. This is Mason's first crack at it and he is a natural. 'Bout time all that energy got used to some productive purpose. Today was his second game and he scored four goals. He also put a mean block on the other team's striker just before the boy pegged a goal. Since he is in clinic, his team is co-ed. It really is a remarkable thing to watch the difference in the play of boys and girls.

Collin had a make-up game on Friday night, so we all went. (We've been splitting up on the weekends and I hadn't seen him play yet this season.) He has quite a nice, competitive soccer team. It was great fun to watch, especially since we won. The difference between boys playing and girls playing is very noticeable. The boys are so aggressive, so serious. They mean to make that goal, they are faster than a speeding bullet, more powerful than a locomotive.

I'm not on point of lumping all boys as warriors and all girls as nurturers. I'm sure I can point out a number of cautious, tender boys and a few blazing, blustering girls. And every team has it's variations in players. Still - on the whole, the boys play harder. There's a part of boys in which it is all about the conquest, the win, the beating of the opponent, the victory. Sure, girls like to win, too, but it doesn't have that desperate edge, that necessary quality.

My daughter played today, and they smoked the competition, too. It was a great game. But, there are the differences, all you have to do is look. A girl kicks another girl and looks stricken with remorse. Boys step on the opponent's head and never look back. Mason plowed an opposing player in his game. When he came off the field, he smiled and said, "I think I almost broke his arm!" Because I'm a girl, I was shocked and said, "And you should have said you were sorry, too!" Dad wasn't there, but I think if he had been, there would have been hi-fives involved.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Only Chicken Should Be Fried

Chicken is good fried. I know, I know, in moderation, of course. Don't want the arteries to protest. But chicken is good fried.

Mothers - not good fried. Yet mothers are so often fried. If you wish to keep from being fried, there is constant pressure, sometimes subtle, sometimes overt, to jump into the basin of fat with the other Do-It-All moms and swim around in there until you are so crispy, you go on a bender when you see a lone, wet sock in the middle of the kitchen floor. "WHY can't you people just PUT your THINGS and your deeee-sgusting CLOTHING in the god-forsaken HAMPER!?!" Ahem. Not that I've ever said that.

I think homeschoolers are even more vulnerable than "normal" mothers to feel this pressure to join it all, sign up for it all, host it all, volunteer it all, lead-the-group it all and dash all over the county to try and give the kids "opportunities". Homeschoolers in particular have something to prove: "See? We're so social! We don't lack for friends, fun or fantastic extracurriculars!" I mean, it's awesome that homeschooling has come this far. I am thrilled that we have a thriving, fantastic homeschooling community. There are so many offers for clubs, groups, field trips, park days, hang-out days, trips, classes and tutoring that we could be gone every single day of the week, every time-frame of each day: morning, mid-day, afternoon and evening, all year long. Only that sort of begs the question of when we would actually learn to conjugate French verbs and find the circumference of a circle.

This year, I am a member of three different homeschool support groups...oh, no wait, four, actually, if you count my umbrella group. It is hard - sometimes even painful - to see all these cool things come continuously streaming into my e-mail box, begging me to join, host, participate or attend. I must say NO to most of them. At least, to many of them. It may even be somewhat detrimental to be a member of four groups. Ignorance is bliss, in a way. I have already said "Yes!" to soccer, a full day of Specials classes each Friday, a trip to Ellis Island, hosting monthly support group meetings, aiding at co-op on Friday, a women's retreat at church, twice-monthly Fun With Friends night, thrice-monthly middle-schooler Bible study and I think I gave a firm "Maybe" to apple-picking in late September. I was going to do Hiking in Harper's Ferry, (love it there!) but ironically, the trip was cancelled because none of the homeschoolers could pick a date that didn't have conflicting classes, trips or co-ops. I have said No to: Book Club for my kids, homeschool swimming, pumpkin park day, Not-Back-To-School breakfast, Oriole Park tour, Colonial Williamsburg homeschool days, Codorus State Park programs, drawing with nature program and now a writing group that my daughter would surely adore. And those are just the things I really want to do but can't, not nearly a list of all the opportunities available. I'm trying to get my kids back to piano lessons, but there is not a single minute available when I can do it and so can my piano teacher.

I am also planning my upcoming trip to Disney - a whole 'nother post, there!

People, are you with me? We just have to say No to some of this stuff. Especially if we homeschool. The mere mention of anything *else* that is planned for a Thursday evening is enough to trigger an asthma attack. Please put me in the slow-cooker. I really don't want to be fried.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Where were you?

It's the question of the day. Where were you that fateful day, 8 years ago, when those towers fell? When the Pentagon was attacked? When a planeful of heroes went down in that Pennsylvania field?

I watched this morning the re-run of the original newscasts from September 11th. It still makes my heart hurt and fills my face with tears. Those images are seered in my memory. Remember those lost-and-found boards, growing more tattered throughout the week? They break my heart. Wind-whipped flyers, asking out "Have You Seen Me?" into the grey New York sky.

And the good side, too, though it seems hard to say that there could be a good side and almost crass to recall one. The goodwill, the altruistic human love that happened then. We were all in this together. Even Rosie O'Donnell was proud of George W. Bush! Strange, I know.

That day seemed so ordinary. My daughter was 4 and I was taking her to the pediatrician for a check up. When I came out of the appointment, I noticed the staff was acting strangely. Something was certainly going on, but I didn't know what. On my way home from the doctor, I listened to the radio. At just that time, the second tower was collapsing. I felt desperate and sick to hear what was happening. Once I was home, I did what most everyone else did: called my husband, called a few friends and then gawked at the TV for days, sobbed, prayed and despaired.

I wear my flag shirt today. I left the news on, wanting my kids to see the news, wanting them to connect even a little with how it was that day. But I know they do not really get it. You have to live it yourself before you really see.