Very Round Peg, Very Square Hole.

It has finally come to me that despite his amazing athleticism and my clear joy in spectatorship, Mr. Ornery appears to be little interested in organized sports. At 18 months of age, his day care teachers remarked at his persistence in shooting basketballs into the miniature plastic hoop. At 4 years of age, I strapped on ice skates and he took off across the ice with me stumbling in awe behind him. Put him in shoes, in skates, in skis, on wheels and he just goes. Give him a ball, a bat, a glove, a stick and he gets it.

In his short 8 years (well, four really when you consider that he didn’t start until age four), this boy has done sports! He has played more seasons of soccer than he cares to have joined. (“But, Mom, I didn’t sign up for soccer,” he whined one evening last Spring as we drove to practice. Evil grin from the driver’s seat.) He has played basketball for the past three winters. He tried ice hockey for a year and decided to “retire” shortly after I sunk money into the “travel bag” to carry all the gear that I had already sunk money into! He played a season of flag football. He was fast. He can run. But he didn’t care to catch the ball. He tried baseball last Spring. His coach was amazed that it was his first time ever as he caught, threw and hit with ease. “Yep,” I said, “I bought him a glove a week before the first practice.”

Scattered in all that was two years of gymnastics, getting to the point of twice-a-week practice to look toward competitive gymnastics, but he was not interested. He joined his brother and cousins in karate for a few months, but had no stamina for working toward a hierarchy of colored belts. He was on the swim team last summer and has a beautiful stroke, but doesn’t care to show any speed. We even tried a session of water polo, but for a little seven-year-old, treading water in the deep end of the high school swimming pool was a bit too exhausting.

But look him in the eye and ask Mr. Ornery what’s his favorite sport and he’ll say, “I’m going to be a BMX biker when I grow up.”

Mind you, I love watching all my boys play sports. I happily drive them to practice after practice. I put money into sign-ups, equipment, and Gatorade and tons and tons of mileage. I want to expose them to as many sports as I can (okay, I probably didn’t need to do all of the above in 4 years I realize now as I list them!). My hope is that one day when they are on the college campus and someone yells out to them, “Dude, want to join us for a quick game of …?” they will actually know how to play that … and jump right in. (Golf, we need to do golf. And tennis and rowing and cross-country….)

But Mr. Ornery has other ideas. He’s a round peg. He wants round things under his feet. He glides with ease and flies to the top of ramps on a small BMX bike. He is working on how to do an Ollie on a skateboard (see what I’m learning?). He just learned how to “drop in” on a scooter from an older kid at the skate park. He’s watching YouTube videos of people biking and skating and scootering. He’s begging me to take him to the indoor bike park several times a month and rates their one-week bike camp as the best week ever. He cajoles the babysitter into taking him and the Little Guy to a nearby skate park as often as he can (though her rule is that they leave when the teen mass enlarges towards the evening and the language gets more and more foul).

And, Mr. Ornery has spent this entire weekend creating his own miniature skate park in his bedroom after spending his allowance on “fingertip” skate boards and torturing me with the world’s smallest nuts and bolts to put together a Tech Deck. (That’s the towel rack from the bathroom, by the way. Sigh.)

Give me a sport that I can understand and cheer for and I am happy. Put wheels under Mr. Ornery and he is in heaven. He’s a round peg. He doesn’t care for my square holes. But we are learning to compromise. He keeps up a sport to garner the lessons of persistence, sportsmanship, listening to a coach, and working towards a goal as a team. I keep the bike tires pumped up, the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches packed for a quick snack, and the back of the van loaded with two BMX bikes, two scooters, two skateboards and two helmets at all times (naturally, the Little Guy is following right along).

And, I keep the prayers flowing as I watch him soar, hoping for soft landings.

Love my round peg. (And…. he’d love you to “subscribe” to his video. It matters to an 8-year-old, apparently 😊). 

 

 

 

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Cold sacrifices

People talk about the sacrifice you make when you become a parent. They talk about so many sacrifices for your kids. If was sounding pretty “yeah, yeah” to me…until yesterday. Until I sat in 42 degree weather with the sun pushing the clouds out of its way for miniscule moments of time before the darkness and gray returned and the wind whipped through tiny entrances of layered clothing to reach my very soul as I sat cheering for Super Tall Guy at his baseball game.

This, I thought, this is what “sacrifice” means. Every muscle in my body wanted to sprint for the warmth of the car. My head ached from the tense neck muscles as I hunched as far into the blanket as I could. I sat there wishing for just a couple more degrees of warmth and possibly for feeling in my toes.

I glanced at the coaches on the field, blowing on their hands to diminish the numbness. “Come on, kid, you can do it. We got a hitter here,” they would yell to the batter. These men, these fathers, were sacrificing their Saturday morning to stand in the freezing cold for what? For my kid. And for that kid over there. And that one over there. Sure the kidsbaseball were cold. Sure they were rubbing their hands. Sure Super Tall Guy asked if he could leave after the second inning (knowing it would take two innings to get to his turn at bat given his bottom of the line-up position). But the coaches coached and the parents huddled and froze so that the kids could play. And the kids played so that they could learn about sacrifice and being cold and persisting and being “tough” and showing up for the team and winning and losing….and well, because their parents made them show up in the hopes that they would learn some of those lessons.

It’s been nine and a half years since I turned over under the covers and slept past 7:30 on a Saturday morning. It’s been nine and a half years since I last woke up and said, “hmmm….what should I do today?” Going from single, carefree woman to “what am I going to do for and with you today?” has been a pretty dramatic adjustment. Learning to sacrifice myself and my desires and even my needs (like you know, to sleep, to eat (a warm meal), to get to the bathroom before desperation) has been a big change.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m happy. I’m not complaining. I don’t mind leaving the movie theater right at the part I really wanted to see because the four-year-old can’t sit still any longer. I don’t mind staring at the huge painting in the dining room and wondering who shattered the upper corner of the glass. I don’t mind contemplating if the dampness seeping through my sock is urine or just water from the evening bath. I think it keeps me in shape to continually bend over and pick up those paper airplanes that missed their landing strip. I kind of enjoy slithering under the car to retrieve the soccer ball being melted onto the hot frame. I’d rather sleep on a narrow sliver of bed than spread out like an eagle and take up so much space. It’s keeping me limber and young and inquisitive, and so I really don’t mind….because I have three awesome boys…and I’ll get them back some day for all these sacrifices!

Parenting Boys 101: The Cup

“You are going to wear a cup.”

His eyes went wide as his brain tried to figure out how a drinking cup was going to go on his body. We stood in the “baseball” section of Dicks Sporting Goods. His younger brothers raced around the aisles and in and out of the baseball pants neatly organized on baseball
circular hangers. They each held a $19.99 pair of red baseball gloves that they were sure Mom was going to purchase for them as soon as she finished some eye-to-eye conversation with Super Tall Guy.

“It’s called a cup. It’s protection for your balls.”

Blank stare as he contemplated how a baseball had anything to do with this and needed to be on his body.

“Super Tall Guy,” I whispered, “boys wear these shorts when they play baseball. There is a hard piece of plastic called a cup which is to protect their private area from getting hit with a ball.”

I’m NOT wearing that!” he stressed.

“Oh yes, you are.”

No way – it will make me look big down there. I don’t want to be big. People will notice.”

I laughed inwardly, “Honey, apparently guys want to be big down there” 🙂

“Now into the fitting room.”

I’m NOT trying that on.”

“Oh yes, you are. And hurry up, we’re going to be late for your second practice.”

Tell them to get out of the room.”

Right – you want me tell wild, maniac 4- and 6-year-old dudes to sit quietly outside the fitting room door (without peeking under the door)?!?  “Okay, Mr. Ornery and The Little Guy, sit here while Mom helps Super Tall Guy.”

“Now, honey…quick….put this on.”

His dark brown skin turned a nice shade of pink.

It was Friday evening, the first day of baseball practice. Shelley, the assistant coach, was taking a break and we stood together at the fence talking about boys. She has three as well, though her youngest is eleven. We commiserated a bit before I asked her what my son will “need” for baseball (and what items are “nice” but not essential for the burgeoning kid-sport budget).
  1. Cleats – right….because those are different than soccer cleats (which we have) and football cleats (so that parents can spend a fortune if kids play different sports!)
  2. Baseball pants – huh, don’t have any of those yet…
  3. Glove – got that! (birthday gift this year just for fun)
  4. Bat is not essential but most boys bring their own – got that! (from the birthday. It’s metal, it’s dangerous and has sat in a closet for months to avoid concussing other children)
  5. She didn’t mention ball cap, but from the look of the field, Super Tall Guy is the only one who’s mother can’t remember to grab one from the house!
  6. And cup. “Okay, tell me honestly about that,” I said. “Because I’m clueless.”  She laughed, “I was too.”

I love parents. I love parents of boys, especially of just boys, because they get it!  They know that the kids are dusty because they just somersaulted down the hill. They know that I just opened the minivan door in the parking lot and found the younger two buck naked in there! They know that we spent the entire beach vacation arguing over who was sitting beside whom. They know that I search for a Mute button while pointing a remote at the boys. They know that the couch pillows are torn and duct-taped together from pillow fights and couch trampoline events. They just know. And I know to turn to them and start the conversation because sometimes I need to be reminded that yes, the boys are “normal” and “going to be okay” and will “eventually grow up.”

My job is to love and encourage and protect (every inch of them) along the way!