Friends, I've been thinking about that "50 Shades of Grey" blog post I mentioned, like, 20 years ago, when it was relevant--and I have one in the can, but as tomorrow is my birthday, I'm gonna save that bomb until next week. Because my idea of celebrating is not receiving comments/emails from my 3-4 readers that tell me to go to hell. Although personally, that statement would be more timely and vicious if you told me to "go to the DMV with four screaming children." Brilliant. I'm modernizing English foul-mouthing by creating non-religion-based offensiveness, because some people may not believe in hell, but NOBODY wants to "Go the the DMV with four screaming children"--and I am currently taking suggestions for other scenarios that are just as wicked and could be compared to the devil's fire pit.
Instead of literary porn, can we talk about the start of the organized sport season? And how, every year at about this time, Mike and I have 57 different discussions about kid's sports. Well actually, I go into some sort of long diatribe about it and spend hours researching teams/times/prices on the Internet, and via face-to-face interviews; and Mike nods and uh-huhs reassuringly for WEEKS, until it's time to pull the trigger. At which point he will tell me, "I'm just not sure I'm crazy about signing them up for swimming/soccer/speed skating/ rhythmic gymnastics, even if we will have 15 minutes of family time every third Friday. When will they EAT?"
Well Mike, I'm not sure, but from what I gather, food and dairy and dyes and preservatives cause cancer in lab rats, so CLEARLY, organized sports are the way to go because no one's ever perished by playing pee-wee tennis (that I know of). I might have told him to "go to the DMV with four screaming children", while also arguing that he should have thought about this back when he got me pregnant with four kids, in three years--and now that I mention it, I'm *pretty sure* I've written a blog post along these lines a couple of years back, which just proves we are having the same argument over and over again, and that homework and sports schedules should be considered when you are young and naieve, and you think babies really aren't that *complicated*. Because your little angel in her monogrammed onesie, who can't yet talk or move, is a cake walk (even on explosive diarhea days), compared to the tye-dyed Dora-the-Explorer t-shirt (or equivalent) she will bite you over, and really, that's just the introduction of free will that will eventually lead to homework battles and iphones they will DIE without, and sports teams that travel and real Uggs, and teenage food bills, and college tuitions that will drain you of all your cash and patience. We do it because we love you kids, and also because we feel pressure, and even as adults, we don't know how to deal with it--so we just follow along and bedazzle our spirit wear like everyone else, and then it just looks like we MEANT to sign up for 17 different activities every Saturday for 25 years.
All this to say, that organized sports DO NOT come natural to me (I'm sure you couldn't guess that), because I was never a part of them. In this way, I've always feared athletics--and like every other human being, the only way I know how to conquer what I fear is to control it with a strict regime and schedule, and to feed it organic produce. Except for the organic produce, because we don't do that.
But see, here's the thing--YEARS ago, it was Mike who insisted that our then five-year-old be a part of a swim team. That seemed f--ing insane to me, the girl who has a father that was a Division I, All-American swimmer in college--but I've only known Mike to be adamant about five things, including the depth of our cereal bowls, and not riding in a limo to our wedding reception (???), and so I went with it, because I am a GIVER, people. And then he was all chill about it, and at work during practices, and not freaking out about having his ball gown dry cleaned for country club swim meets; and I was all taking-it-seriously and up in G's grill about focusing and trying hard. Clearly, I missed the lesson where sports are FUN, because they are too expensive and all-consuming for that, and for the price of my money and time, I have CLEARLY signed up for a Gatorade sponsorship and NOT pure enjoyment.
I'm kidding. Sort of. Because I want my kids to have fun--but do you know how much that COSTS?? And I REALLY think we're confusing our outcomes here, because "fun" is feeding ice cream to penguins, or chasing rainbows, or petting prairie dogs, or whatever; it isn't swimming laps in a pool six times a week or watching a baseball double-header in 105 degree heat. Those things are freaking work, which I believe to be a valuable skill for kids to learn--not because it's "fun", but because we all need to suffer through something that we can regale in great detail to our children, and our children's children, to hold over their heads for generations to come. That's how parenting WORKS. And also, when combined with genetics, it's how you end up on a box of Wheaties.
We're teaching them something here, right? I mean, that's what keeps me up at night, debating what sports to sign our kids up for and what team they should play for, and feeling like I'm raising serial killers if they don't participate in pee-wee water polo. I didn't play any sports, and I think it's pre-tty clear that I have a pretty warped view of them; so I guess I'm hoping for perseverance, team work, general gross motor skills, how to win and how to lose (gracefully), but honestly, I think I'd settle for them just not becoming the a-hole that heckles young children at baseball games.
Now. The boys play soccer and love it, but there are a multitude of reasons why this isn't a *great* choice for the girls--and they include fear of flying balls, and being kicked by cleats, a general hatred of being hot/sweating, and an overall attention deficit (L). By default, swimming has become the sport that has remained for G, simply because she tolerates it, and so that is how we found ourselves being *evaluated* for our fourth swim team a couple of weeks ago. I wasn't sold on it, because there is a part of me that still clings to a free and unattached schedule (insert chuckle); but in order to even have the option, I needed to have her swimming ability assessed, and so I thought we'd show up and then THINK ABOUT IT. And true to my very nature, we managed to get ourselves to the pool that morning without goggles or a swim cap, or any of the necessary paper work. Frankly, I'm impressed that I remembered my swimmer, or her three siblings.
I did however, remember the iPad. Because that sh#! is life-giving.
By the grace of God, we had friends who were being evaluated at the same time, and they had an extra pair of goggles--and in my defense, we were JUST BEING EVALUATED. No decisions were being made, no contracts were being signed in blood, no payments equivalent to a private school tuition check were being written.
Except that when it comes to sports, it's always NOTHING like I imagine.
Because everyone who's being evaluated is signing up. That day. With completed paperwork, and checks. And when there are 30 other people who are confidently doing something without hesitation, that's a lot of pressure; and now I understand how lemmings feel, or how cults are formed, I'm pretty sure. I DEFINITELY could have waited and thought about it, but as I was told, with the full schedule of evaluations they had that day, and NO OTHER PARENTS having to pray and meditate on this kind of commitment, they were gonna fill every spot. It was possible they wouldn't even make it to the afternoon with spaces available, and my "thinking about it" was going to cost us a spot on the team (and G's potential as a swimmer, and an Olympic medal in 2020. Probably. They didn't actually say that, but I'm "reading between the imaginary lines".)
This is precisely the mentality that was used in that episode of "Friends" where Ross and Chandler couldn't quit the gym. Only, we joined a nine-month, three-times-a-week swim team, which *almost* killed us two years ago. And by "almost killed us" I mean "mildly annoyed us".
Unfortunately, Mike was at a funeral, and unable to talk me through this decision, which was really just the latest in my normal string of complicated scenarios, that would have resulted in us owning a paddleboat, or a pug/sharpei, or a hand-gun full of tequila, without his intervention--because opportunities come up ALL. THE. TIME. And so I broke it to him gently over a text message, that we had joined a swim team! And then he was like, "WHAT?", and I replied that we could totally call on Monday and cancel if we changed our minds, but really I knew we wouldn't do that, because once I fill out 27 different release forms, I am DONE. And I've learned that if I just don't bring it up, they'll cash our check, and then we're pot committed, and we're just gonna go with it. Which is precisely the mentality that sends the lemmings diving off that ocean cliff.
So just to recap: they boys are playing on two different soccer teams that will practice and have games on separate evenings and weekend days; G will swim 2-3 times per week in the evenings, and L has yet to be signed up for any sport, but we are *considering* an acrobatics class down the street. We might need to refinance the house to pay for all of this, but CRAP, we sold the house, so now we're looking at organ donation on Ebay.
Currently placing bets on when my brain will start bleeding out my ears.