things we know so far

16 April, 2011 @ 15:00, BGKY CMT

Scar­lett will inevitably be one of the cools kids. Pos­sess­ing an intri­cate­ly rhyth­mic sense of self, she read­i­ly demon­strates the abil­i­ty to com­plete­ly blow off author­i­ty that is required in the tru­ly hip. If you have seen the recent pic­ture of her on her pink toy-ATV, you will see her already being poised and effort­less­ly cool.
Ask me to send you a copy, if haven’t seen it.

Apr 24, 2011 @ 12:35 PM EST, Abingdon,VA.

Now.

We—jenn and the grand­par­ents and me—are lan­guid­ly sit­ting on the porch while Mac tells Scar­lett, “Places every­body!” and then instructs that we, the audi­ence, must clap three times, which we do, and then pro­ceeds to per­form his one-act, one-scene play of The Drag­on1 and The Princess2, which starts out with Mac stomp­ing around, arms raised, as the “ter­ri­bly angry” drag­on while Scar­lett the princess gig­gles, hav­ing trou­ble remain­ing in char­ac­ter. Like most mod­ernist pro­duc­tions, the play doesn’t end so much as just stop.

April 21, 2011 @ night

Scar­lett is pur­pose­ful and delib­er­ate when she goes to sleep; one minute she is awake, the next she is cud­dled up with her ted­dy bear, a pic­ture of reposed inno­cence. As opposed to Macon­nell who always looks like he has just lost a fight, knocked out by KO, on his back sprawled out, mouth opened, ren­dered uncon­scious by forces out of his con­trol, hav­ing spent every last iota of fight in him before suc­cumb­ing to the night.

April 24, 2011, Abing­don, VA @ Late after­noon.

Jack had a rough end to a good vis­it. Hav­ing bumped his head on this and that sharp edge, he then tried to pick up a bum­ble­bee4 and learned quick­ly that it real­ly hurt. He cried for about a good five min­utes while we ran to get some Benadryl, but by the time we got it down him, he was already calm, but still gen­tly coo­ing poor me, milk­ing all sym­pa­thies. Lat­er that same day, he got his fin­gers par­tial­ly caught by a clos­ing door, but noth­ing seri­ous. All in all a rough day but he han­dled it with aplomb.

  1. played by Mac []
  2. played by Scar­lett. duh. []
  3. yes, it’s redun­dant []
  4. Xylo­co­pa vir­gini­ca []

the son’s dad

March­ing 14th, 2011 9:24pm

I sup­pose like any oth­er kid­die-sports league, watch­ing what appears to be vast tracts of psy­cho­log­i­cal dam­age and trau­ma, roots of neu­roses and seeds of life­long behav­ioral dis­or­ders being ruth­less­ly ground into the tykes is going to gen­er­ate a cer­tain amount of appre­hen­sion in any par­ent who actu­al­ly cares about their kid.

Watch­ing the look of heart-felt fail­ure on the face of a dad as their lit­tle 34 yr old breaks out cry­ing because some kid just kicked the ball from them, leav­ing them rolling in the dust, unable to score a goal yet again, is with­er­ing to a father’s psy­che. I know this because I was exact­ly that dad last year1 when Mac had his first sea­son of orga­nized-sports prac­tice.2 Watch­ing the com­plex and uncon­trol­lable mael­strom of emotions—anger, con­fu­sion, out­rage, angst and despair—arise out of the lit­tle bod­ies of these boys is heart-wrench­ing and ter­ri­fy­ing, but I sense also espe­cial­ly self-immo­lat­ing to the amer­i­cana dad.3 We’ve all been through these incred­i­bly strong/​damaging emo­tions and we want to pro­tect our kids from it, yet we are told sports teach chil­dren how to func­tion in a com­pet­i­tive soci­ety; it’s a giv­en sports are healthy and good and devel­op mod­el cit­i­zens, encour­ag­ing both team-sac­ri­fice and the taste for the pur­suit for excel­lence that qua­dren­ni­al­ly cul­mi­nate as the Olympics.

I think the worst part is watch­ing the con­fu­sion on the boy’s face as their sup­posed team-mate, the one they have been prac­tic­ing with for last 45 min­utes is placed on the oppos­ing-side for scrim­mage and what was all prac­tice and team­work and fun is now very much a 15-minute encap­su­la­tion of The Lord of the Flies: the soc­cer ball, the conch. Then he, the lost one, will stop run­ning and stand there alone, cry­ing in the body-wrack­ing way lit­tle kids will cry, inno­cence lost and all that cal. The fathers will run up, at first smil­ing and calm­ly cajol­ing, while the inevitably large set of rel­a­tives watch from the side­lines hav­ing shown up to see lit­tle junior play, and so the cajol­ing will quick­ly turn into qui­et plead­ing and even­tu­al­ly out­right order­ing or so help me… Soon frus­tra­tion sets in as the lit­tle boy con­tin­ues to stand in the mid­dle of field shame­less­ly cry­ing, while the rest of the kids run back and forth, com­plete­ly ignor­ing the poor kid, no more an object in their aware­ness than a tuft of grass to be stepped on, while dad is bent over, arms out­stretched on either side of the boy, ges­tic­u­lat­ing wild­ly, try­ing to push the boy toward the field of play with­out actu­al­ly touch­ing him. Any sort of phys­i­cal con­tact now would be an admis­sion of com­plete and absolute fail­ure. Inevitably, you will see—it will hap­pen to every dad out there at one point4—you will see fail­ure wash­ing over the dad’s face like the tears wash­ing their son’s.

The mom’s get this. I’m not sure what all they know as they patient­ly calm their son that dad has made incon­solable. I do not know all that Jenn or the rest of the moms’ know but at least I know they already know that these are their lit­tle boys and not men, not ready for the testos­terone-fueled com­pet­i­tive­ness that is preva­lent for much of man’s life. Scar­lett of course, has been blow­ing any and every belief or myth or gen­er­al sense of knowl­edge about girls, espe­cial­ly lit­tle girls, not only out of the water but vapor­iz­ing pre-con­cep­tions a pri­ori. Scar­lett at this stage in the game, could lit­er­al­ly run cir­cles around the boys on the field, leav­ing them chok­ing on her dust.5

BUT

This year, it turns out that your kid actu­al­ly does OK.6 No jags of cry­ing that lock them up. This year it’s not you out there but anoth­er dad going through the same feel­ings of failed father­hood, but now you know that being able feel this already dis­proves7 the fear. You want to go up to them and say my son did exact­ly same thing and that almost exact­ly one year ago8 on this same spot, I felt exact­ly what you are feel­ing right now, think­ing it’s only your kid who stands apart from every­one else, tears stream­ing, over­whelmed with ter­ror that roots them the ground, unable to think, act or walk, let alone kick a ball in any mean­ing­ful man­ner. You want to pat them on the back and say, “It’s OK. we’ve all been through exact­ly what you feel­ing and it will get bet­ter. And you’ll learn not to take the entire clan to watch lit­tle john­ny play and score the win­ning goal. Next time it will be just you and him, one on one and it will be a whole lot bet­ter.”

  1. And to some extent this year. []
  2. we are in our 2nd year now. []
  3. those toss-the-foot­ball and play-catch myths are them­selves demon­strat­ed to be myths when I dri­ve around the neigh­bor­hood and see what the oth­er dads are doing with their kids. []
  4. each every kid hav­ing their own unique break­ing point []
  5. And it’s a very wet soc­cer field. []
  6. Mac up until very recent­ly had been doing a very sub­tle par­o­dy of Char­lie Sheen. Mac has only one speed: SLOW! even when he has the ball and every­one is beg­ging him to run, nay walk just a bit faster, he obsti­nate­ly plods along. He has great ball-han­dling skills but molasses pass­es him. So this year, he actu­al­ly has start­ed run­ning! This is a much big­ger accom­plish­ment to see than I can describe on paper. []
  7. I hope []
  8. Jenn reminds its only been 6 months []

Soccer meeting

We had our first offi­cial soc­cer meet­ing for Mac. They orga­niz­ers had invit­ed the par­ents to bring out the kids but since the meet­ing was being held at 7pm, most of the kids were already a bit loopy from stay­ing up past their bed­times and were glassy-eyed when they first arrived at the fields.

While a dense core of seri­ous­ly-mind­ed look­ing par­ents were close­ly pay­ing atten­tion to the orga­niz­ers, a fair per­cent­age of par­ents were in the periph­ery mind­ing the kids as they (the kids) slow­ly got the idea they could kick their soc­cer balls as hard as they want­ed to with­out any adult real­ly pay­ing any neg­a­tive atten­tion to them, and so they just took off, run­ning and for the most part kick­ing the ball in front of them and even­tu­al­ly into the goals.

Mac ini­tial­ly arrived at the fields say­ing he didn’t know how to or couldn’t kick a soc­cer ball, but he soon saw the oth­er kids play­ing and with­in a few min­utes had abscond­ed with some other’s kid ball and ran the length of the field, actu­al­ly kick­ing the ball in a deter­mi­nate fash­ion and final­ly get­ting to the goal and punt­ing it in. It was quite neat to see him do what we had been prac­tic­ing in the back yard for the past year: Our lit­tle bit of dad-toss­ing-the-ball-with-son schtick.1 Need­less to say, Scar­lett also was kick­ing the ball around. We are not exact­ly sure how we are going to keep her off the field dur­ing an actu­al match; she’s too young to be signed up.

I soon picked up on the fact that these kid­die games would be as much as an excuse for the par­ents to get out and social­ize as it would for the kids. Of course we would enjoy watch­ing our kids at play, but we would also get the enjoy the com­pa­ny of oth­er adults which is extreme­ly lim­it­ed when smalls kids take up every wak­ing2 hour avail­able. Yes I know I am stat­ing the obvi­ous, but it’s new to me.

  1. Yeah I know I mix­ing metaphors []
  2. and non-wak­ing []