Let’s Play Ball

photo-11Today was the first official night of the baseball season. The fields are finally open and it was a gloriously beautiful spring day. Unfortunately it sounds like Mother Nature is going to kick us right in the seeds later in the week and won’t stop until we’re writhing on the ground in pain begging for mercy. This year I have four kids playing on four different teams, and my husband is the assistant coach for Cameron’s team. It’s complicated, to put it mildly. I really don’t remember much of the evening. It felt a little like an out of body experience.

5:00 – Justin and Alex are eating pizza rolls. Cameron can’t find his water bottle. David is wigging out because one of his idiot friends (I like David’s friends. They are good kids, but as a whole, 7th graders aren’t always the most judicious of creatures.) “text bombed” him, incapacitating his phone because no other texts can go through until each one of the hundreds of texts his friend sent at 7:30 this morning comes through, and they’d been trickling in all day. David’s pulled this joke on others before so he’s getting a taste of his own medicine, though he was quick to point out he hadn’t done it for a year, only did it to “maybe” two people, and only sent 20 texts.

5:15 – David leaves for his practice with his friend, whose mom, Julie, is kind enough to agree to go out of her way and drop David off at Alex’s 6:00 practice so Alex isn’t alone while I run Justin over to his 7:00 practice. But then as Barry and Cameron leave for 5:30 practice, Barry tells me to drop Justin off with him because his 7:00 practice is at an adjacent field, then go to Alex’s practice. So I text Julie that never mind, we’re all good. Now I need to get Justin and Alex dressed, which cannot happen without: Sock drama. Athletic supporter drama. Hat drama. Shoe drama. Shoelace drama. Bag drama.

5:45 – I can’t deal with dog drama too, so we leave a very sad doggie looking at us longingly from the stairs. Guilt-ridden because it’s so nice out, I promise her a treat if she’s a good girl. At a red light I peek at an email to see what number field I need to take Justin to. Well, crap. Turns out his practice is not at the same place as Cameron’s. I should know never to trust my husband. Alex is giving himself a pre-practice pep talk. “Don’t fart. Don’t fart. Don’t fart.”

6:00 – Arrived at Alex’s practice. I forgot my damn chair. Text Julie back and tell her to never mind the previous never mind, drop off request is back on. Talk to my friend, Amber, who probably thinks I’m a complete fruit bat because I’m trying to mentally talk myself through all of this schedule shit while sitting there with her. Pinged with an email. Justin’s coach. Oops, he got the field wrong, it actually IS at the same location as Cameron. He’s sorry for the inconvenience. Sorry doesn’t help me much now that I’m sitting there with Justin, have to debate whether to run him back over now or just wait. I decide to wait because Julie will think I’m certifiable if I send another change of plans text. I guess I should have trusted my husband.

6:05 – This coach is a nice guy, but he needs to run a tighter practice and shut down the kid who keeps interrupting, and is obsessed with relaying everything that is said to his sisters. Hold all questions until the end, junior.

6:20 – Interestingly enough, Alex actually spends his time at practice playing baseball instead of talking to girls and playing in the sand. That’s new for him.

6:40 – Justin and I are off. We pass Julie on the way. Things are working out ok. At the next site the parking lot is packed so I park in the fire lane to walk Justin over to find his coach. Yeah, that’s right, asshole in the Explorer, I’m parking here. Wanna make something of it? You’ve got plenty of room to get around so don’t give me your look, I’m on the clock here.

6:50 – Where the hell is Justin’s team? Is it just me, or are half of the suburban dads pretty much an extension of college frat boys? We never really leave high school, do we?

6:55 – Driving back. Phone call. David. Alex is done, where ARE you? Also my phone still doesn’t work. Um, you’re talking to me on it right now, aren’t you? Yeah, but I can’t TEXT.

7:00 – Pick up David and Alex. Drive a few blocks. Drive back a few blocks to retrieve Alex’s batting helmet, glove, hat, and water bottle. David wants to know why God hates him because he’s been praying for his phone to go back to normal, but it hasn’t yet. I suggest that perhaps God is trying to teach him patience.

7:10 – Drop David off at home, wearing the title of worst mother ever because I won’t stay to make him food.

7:30 – Relieve Barry from Justin’s practice so he can go home and feed himself and Cameron. Hang out with Alex watching batting practice. Solid 25 minutes of relaxation.

7:55 – In search of a bathroom.

8:30 – Practice over. All good. Insane, but we survived. Just glad we didn’t have to do it in snow.

8:45 – WARNING. WARNING. WARNING. Justin is about to lose it because he wanted me to make Thai peanut noodles for dinner, which I’m not going to do at quarter to nine. I talk him into settling for a frozen chicken fettuccine Lean Cuisine.

8:50 – Alex wanders into the kitchen. What do I smell? Oh fuck. There’s only one Lean Cuisine. I know where this is heading. He wants one too. I decide to do what is fair, and split it between both of them.

8:55 – DANGER! DANGER! DANGER! Full scale meltdown when Justin realizes he’s not getting the entire contents of the Lean Cuisine. Shut the windows, we don’t need the neighbors to hear this. Alex crying now because he wants pizza too, Justin howling, dog trying to steal food while everyone else is yelling and screaming. David whining some more about his phone.

9:30 – A peace settlement is reached at last. Begin bedtime preparation. Argue over who gets to sleep with the dog. Barry comes upstairs after mopping up the laundry room floor because a sock got stuck in the sink drain, causing the water to back up.

10:00 – Lights out. I cannot do this every night. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2013


What’s Bugging Me

Shit that is annoying the hell out of me at this moment.

  • My husband, when he loads the dishwasher, and it’s completely full, and he knows we’re out of clean bowls because he just used a mixing bowl for his cereal, but then doesn’t bother to run it.
  • David calling everything he doesn’t like “gay.”
  • Controlling Little League coaches who hassle 14-year-old umpires.
  • The woman who posts random used household items and clothes to a local neighborhood on-line garage sale Facebook page, trying to sell them for more than they would retail on sale. And she doesn’t even live here. Sorry, I’m not driving two hours to buy your previously owned men’s sandals for $15.
  • The reconfigured layout of Kauffman Stadium for the All-Star Game. You can’t even see the outfield grassy hills. They’ve already taken out so much of what was wonderful about that park to devote to advertising space, including tearing out an entire row of fountains a few years ago. Now this. Boo.
  • DirecTV and Viacom and their dueling propaganda messages about negotiations to keep Nickelodeon and other channels from going off the air at midnight tonight. I especially love the edited reactions from Spongebob, Dora, Victoria Justice, and iCarly, freaking out and imploring viewers to call and stop the madness. All I’ve heard today from my kids is how they won’t get to see their shows. Take it off-line, you losers.
  • This article, Michael Phelps’ work ethic challenged by teammate Tyler Clary, which I hope was taken out of context, because if not…nice Olympic team spirit. So basically what Clary is saying then, is that if Phelps had worked as hard as he did, he would have beat Clary’s ass in the 200m fly not by 1.5 seconds, but by 15 seconds. Wait until the Olympics, I’m guessing you’ll have some crow to eat along with your sour grapes.

That is all.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

In The Big Leagues Now

“Yeah, I was in the show. I was in the show for 21 days once – the 21 greatest days of my life. You know, you never handle your luggage in the show, somebody else carries your bags. It was great. You hit white balls for batting practice, the ballparks are like cathedrals, the hotels all have room service, and the women all have long legs and brains.” — Crash Davis, Bull Durham

Justin plays in a 5-6 year-old tee ball/coach pitch baseball league. He’s been lighting the ball up lately, so a few weeks ago when the league coordinator asked coaches for names of a few kids who could be subs in the 7-8 year-old machine pitch division, his hat was thrown into the ring. And tonight he got the call. Up from the minors to the big leagues, where you can strike out, they keep score, and your teammates don’t play in the dirt. At least most of them don’t.

Struck out his first time at bat. Pitches from the machine come at ya a little faster.

He’s all business in the field.

Second time up he takes a ball to the legs. Someone asked, “Did that hurt, Justin?” He replied, “Yeah.”

Back on the horse. And made contact. Looper toward first base.

Thrown out at first, but not for lack of effort.

Settling in behind the plate.

He waited all day for his big moment, and at one point said, “Mom, this is a lot of pressure tonight.”

In ready position at third base.

His team, the Red Wings lost, but at least they didn’t have to forfeit. A fun game!

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Now that the boys are becoming more and more active in sports, it feels as if we’ve been on a non-stop tour of youth sports complexes of the Twin Cities and outlying areas. This weekend we saw action at three different venues in Rochester, Minnesota.

Some of these places are shiny new and you can tell a lot of planning, money and time has been poured into making them inviting locations to pull in tournaments and keep them in constant use all summer long. With all the expertise out there, there is a common flaw in all of them. That is the limited access to decent drinking water.

A trash can at the Rochester Youth Sports Complex. Waste bins at another site were overflowing with almost nothing but plastic water bottles.

I’m far from a crunchy, tree-hugging earth mother, but if there is one thing I hate it is bottled water. In a society where clean drinking water is available almost everywhere, bottled water is such a waste. I understand that it’s occasionally convenient when there is nothing else around, but that is part of the problem. These are places where kids are playing sports, getting hot, and needing to keep hydrated. I’m no engineer, but it can’t possibly be that difficult or expensive to install fountains or taps in locations around these multi-acre parks when they are being built. Some facilities don’t even have a drinking fountain in the main concession or building area. That’s how I found myself refilling water bottles in a disgusting bathroom sink over the weekend.

Last year I attended a Minnesota Twins game at Target Field in late July. It was a make-up game that was originally scheduled in April on Earth Day. So everything was “green” themed. It was also a sweltering noon game, with heat indexes reaching over 110°. We planned ahead and brought along water in refillable bottles. Problem was, there was one single water fountain available for six entire sections of seating. So the choice was to either wait in line for half of the game to refill, or buy a plastic bottle of water for $3.00. How many plastic water bottles from that afternoon alone ended up in a landfill somewhere? The onscreen messages of “sustainability” were lost on me that day.

So if you’re going to lament childhood obesity statistics, and start in with bans on soft drinks, like in New York City, or constantly preach the message of reuse, then civic leaders need to make it possible for people live those messages. Does anyone know someone looking for an Eagle Scout project? Or are you affiliated with a community service organization looking to promote healthy living? Then I found a project for you. Work with city authorities to implement a goal of having easily accessible, clean, cold tap water at any place where people gather, particularly summer events, schools, and sports activities.

I’d do it, but I’m just the visionary. I hate to get bogged down in the details.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

Nattering Nabobs Of Negativism

I’ve probably mentioned this before, but I have a very low tolerance for yammering idiots. Unfortunately sometimes you’re in a confined space (airplanes, grocery store lines, theater, sporting event) where you have no viable means of escape. Tonight at Cameron’s baseball game I had the distinct pleasure of being subjected to the inane gabfest of a couple of rocket scientists sitting behind me. A regular Algonquin Round Table.

Gratuitous shot of my son hitting the ball.

I was treated to gems like this.

“Why didn’t he call the infield fly rule?” (Well, for one thing, the ball was hit into the outfield.)

“The colors of the Rangers uniforms make sense because I think those are the Texas Rangers colors.”

“Put it where you live!” (This was some kind of shout of encouragement to a hitter. I’ve been watching baseball for over 30 years and have no clue what that could possibly mean.)

“Do you know what a ‘quorum’ is?” (He was talking to a kid, presumably to educate him. *Facepalm*) “It’s something used in the Senate. Like a majority.” (A quorum is decidedly not a majority, it’s the minimum number of a group that needs to be present to pass a law.)

Then there was a lengthy, graphic, and frankly, nauseating, discussion about eyebrow trimming. (These were two rather out of shape and inching toward middle age men.) Then something about NBC’s Andrea Mitchell editing comments from a press conference, and a reference to Grey’s Anatomy where the name “Dr. McDreamy” was uttered.

And along the way they were being assholes about our team when we’d make mistakes. Like when a ball was hit back to the pitcher and he started to throw to third before realizing it wasn’t a force play and the kid didn’t have to run, but by then it was too late to throw to first for the out. Their reaction? “HA! HA!”

These are nine-year-olds, not Major Leaguers.

On another play our shortstop didn’t charge a ball that was softly hit, resulting in a late throw to first base. The runner was safe. And loud enough for parents and kids alike to hear, they were saying things like, “JEEZ! HOW STUPID. LOOK AT THAT KID JUST SIT THERE AND WAIT FOR THE BALL!” Charming. This was the one time their wives intervened. “Shhhh! There are parents sitting around here.”

I just wish stupid people couldn’t talk. That would make it so much easier for the rest of us.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012


The Bright Side: Ice Skates Would Be Worse

Tonight David and Cameron both had baseball games at 5:30. David’s was local, Cameron’s was 15 minutes away. At 7:00 Justin and Alex had a practice for their team, coached by Barry also local, but not at the same park as David. I’ve learned to start the dressing out process no later than 4:15 for this to go remotely well.

Justin is always gung-ho to get started, sometimes he even gets himself ready as early as 3:00. Today he wanted my help. Jersey, supporter, and pants are never an issue, but when it comes to his socks and shoes, it’s never easy. He must have heightened nerve sensitivity in his feet because I’ve never seen anyone so picky about the seemingly simple task of putting on a pair of socks. I managed to get the first baseball sock on with no complaints. The second one. Not so much.

Justin: “What’s that RED THING on my sock?”
Me: “It’s just a little string stuck to it, I’ll get it off.”
Alex: “Can I take a bath?”
Me: “No. You can after baseball. We need to get dressed now.”
Justin: “It feels WEIRD! You’re supposed to put this part on the TOP!”
Me: “Fine, let me see it.” (I adjusted the bottom of the sock to make sure the seam was on top, and not bothering the bottom of his foot.) “There, is that better?”
Justin: “Yeah.”
Me: “You put your shoes on while I help Alex.”
Justin: “But YOU have to tie them!!!”
Me: “I know, you just put them on, and then I’ll tie them.”
Alex: “Mom, can you put ponytails in my doll’s hair like Dorothy?”
Me: “Sure, just let me get you dressed first.”
Alex: “Ok.”
Justin: “TIE MY SHOE!!!”
Me: “Hang on just a minute, I’m putting on Alex’s stuff.”
Alex: “I don’t know if I really wanna do baseball tonight.”
Me: “Sure you do. You said it was fun.”
Alex: “No. It’s not fun. You just have to stand there.”
Me: “Well, we still need to put on your uniform. Where are your socks?”
Alex: “I don’t know.”
Justin: “TIE MY SHOE!!!”
Me: “Ok!” (I tied his shoe into a neat double bow.)
Justin: “NOT LIKE THAT!!!”
Me: “What’s wrong with it?”
Justin: “It’s sticking out!”
Me: “What is?”
Justin: “I don’t like that sticking out like that. Do it again!”
Me: “Fine.” (We repeated this four more times before I’d had enough.) “It’s fine now. I need to go downstairs and see if Alex’s socks are in the dryer. You put on your other shoe.”
Justin: “NOOOO!!! HELP ME!!!!” (I heard echoes of his shouting and pleading for help as I went downstairs to find socks. Cameron was on the computer.)
Me: “Cameron, aren’t you getting dressed?”
Cameron: “What time’s my game?”
Me: “5:30 and it’s in Victoria. Start getting ready.”
Cameron: “In a minute.”
Me: “Have you seen Alex’s socks?” (I rummaged through laundry baskets, the dryer, and Cameron’s drawers, but found nothing. I did see remnants of black baseball socks that had been cut into two pieces because Cameron has been using the tops of socks as sweatbands because I haven’t taken him to Sports Authority to buy real wristbands.)
Cameron: “Mom, his socks aren’t in my room.”
Me: “How many baseball socks did you cut up?”
Cameron: “I didn’t cut any up. Alex’s socks aren’t in there.”
Me: “I know that. Just answer my question. How many socks did you cut up?”
Cameron: “None!”
Me: “Cameron, you’re lying. There are at least two sock halves sitting here on your dresser? How many did you cut up? Did you cut up Alex’s?”
Cameron: “No!”
Alex: “Mom, can you fix my doll’s hair now?”
Me: “As soon as I help Justin.” (I tied his shoe again. This time he was fine with it.) “Put on your other shoe now.”
Alex: “Now can you do her hair? And fix her leg too.”
Me: (Dealing with Barbie’s hair and leg needs and calling Barry.) “Do you have any more baseball socks in your team stuff?”
Barry: “Why? I put all their socks in their drawer.”
Me: “Cameron cut up a bunch of socks and I think he might have used Alex’s, I can’t find any.”
Barry: “They’re folded in a ball in the drawer.”
Me: “Cameron’s drawer or Alex and Justin’s?”
Barry: “In Justin’s drawer.”
Me: “No, there was only one pair in there.”
Barry: “Can’t I just look for them when I get home?”
Justin: “MOM!!!! I can’t get this SHOE ON RIGHT!!!”
Me: “Fine, Justin’s losing it anyway.”
Justin: “What’s WRONG with this stupid thing???”
Me: “Just settle down, I’ll get it. (I adjusted his shoe one more time.)
Alex: “Can you fix this ponytail? It came out.”
Me: “In just a second, let me tie Justin’s shoe.” (Again I tied a nice double bow.)
Justin: “IT’S NOT TIGHT!”
Me: “Yes it is.”
Justin: “NO!!! I can still wiggle it.”
Me: “I’ll tighten it, just relax.” (I tied a tighter double bow.)
Justin: “That part isn’t straight!”
Me: “What do you mean?”
Justin: “I don’t know, that’s not the way it goes.”
Me: “Justin, this is how I’ve tied your shoes for four weeks now, what is the problem?”
Justin: “I don’t know, it’s just not supposed to be like that.”

Seriously, what is wrong with this knot?

We literally had a variation of this exact conversation after I retied his shoe at least ten times.

Me: “Justin, this is the last time I’m doing this. Like it or not, I’m done.”
Me: “Then you’ll have to wait for your dad to get home and he can tie it.”
Justin: “HE DOESN’T KNOW HOW TO DO IT RIGHT!!! I want YOU to do it!!”
Me: “No. I’m done.” (I went into the bathroom to put my hair up into a hat. Justin started beating on the door.)
Me: “Then take it off and put it back on again. There must be some sand in it.”
Me: “That’s what you need to do to fix it.”
Justin: “I NEED YOU TO HELP ME!!!”
Me: “No, you don’t. Just take off your shoe.”
Justin: (Banging on the door.) “NOOOOOO!!!”

With that I stormed out of the bathroom, forcefully sat him down for a time out, and told him not to move until his dad got home. Meanwhile I had to fix Alex’s doll’s hair again, pack a bag with water, food and bags for Penny, and make sure David and Cameron were ready. As I was doing this somehow Justin was miraculously able to resolve the shoe conundrum on his own. Barry got home, found socks for Alex, and order was restored. Until I told David that since his game would likely finish around the same time as Cameron’s, he’d have to stay at the field for 15 minutes or so until I could pick him up. This was apparently tragedy of epic proportions because even though he could sit and watch part of the next game, or hang out with one of the multitudes of kids he knows who would likely be there in between games, an extra 15 minutes at the ballpark was too difficult for him to fathom. Before he had much of a chance to protest, I dropped him off (But only after turning off the radio at his insistence because Call Me Maybe by Carly Rae Jepson was playing.), and was on my way.

This should not be that complicated, people.

Would You Rather?

We spent a full weekend at the baseball diamonds. I do love baseball, but had a sour taste in my mouth by the time we finished. David and Cameron both play on traveling tournament teams. I won’t say who plays for which one, but here’s a quick rundown of what went on during each tournament.

One tournament team had great success, earning a berth in the state tournament later this summer. That team’s coaches, in a deviation from the way most teams in the age division are managed, decided to play the same players in the same positions every game, while rotating the same four players (who typically only saw two innings of play during a six inning game) in and out of right and left field for five straight games. The coaches’ kids were part of the infield crew who never spent any time on the bench. Not even when the team was ahead by nine runs. Even pitchers weren’t sat down for an inning after they were taken out, even though they had a five game weekend, playing in intense sun. Naturally by the time they played the championship game, the infield was spent, making errors all over the place. Still there were no substitutions.

My son was one of the four benched players. After yesterday’s two games when we finally got home, he was in tears. In his regular league he is treated as a valued player, and although there is a greater emphasis on winning on a tournament team, one would think that if you are good enough to try out and be selected to play, that you’d have an opportunity to…well, play. So the second place finish was bittersweet in that it’s difficult to feel like you are part of the team when you barely have the chance to contribute.

The other tournament team started out well, but fizzled out their last three games, ending up with a fourth place finish. The coaches for this team move kids around in different positions, typically each player has maybe three areas where they typically play. No one is left out, everyone takes their turn on the bench, everyone is involved, win or lose, good and bad. On this team my kid is probably one of the stronger players, but the team as a whole doesn’t seem to always gel. The ball gets thrown around a lot, they looked a little sluggish today. Yet they are all supportive of each other on the field. My son is upset, though, that they haven’t qualified for a state tournament yet, and doesn’t think they will. He just wants to be a part of a winning team.

So each kid essentially has what the other wants. Personally, I think that at their ages, getting time in the game is what is important, and is why they’re out there to begin with. So if given the opportunity to choose, I’d say screw the team who wants to win at all costs while alienating kids, and put me on the team where we actually play as a team, where everyone has a chance to either shine or take some lumps, even if that means not always finishing on top.

I’m curious what others think. I venture to say most people feel like I do, and it’s a handful of parent coaches like the ones on the first team I described who basically ruin it for everyone else. Vote in my quick little anonymous and unscientific poll so I can see if I’m right. Feel free to comment too, I’d especially like to hear from anyone who has coached youth sports.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012

Take Me Out To The Ballgame

Justin and Alex like to watch a Nick Jr. show called Olivia. Olivia is a pig who lives with her mom, dad, and two younger brothers, a pre-schooler and a baby. Olivia’s parents must be on industrial strength Valium to remain as calm as they do when the three of them cook up trouble. It’s not normal. I’d like to see how they would have responded to my night. Because I need some tips, or the neighbors aren’t going to want to keep their windows open with all the crying and yelling going on over here.

Baseball tonight. David and Cameron had practices, Justin and Alex had a game.

4:50 – Justin is rarin’ to go, and wants to get dressed now, even though his game isn’t until 6. His pants and athletic supporter aren’t in his drawer where they are supposed to be, I send him downstairs to ask Barry if they are in a laundry basket, which results in five minutes of shouting at each other from opposite ends of the house to determine where everything is. Eventually Justin comes upstairs with his pants, and a cup that is about two sizes too big. It looks like he’s walking around with an eggplant in his pants. I send him back downstairs for the right cup, then he gets mad because there is sand in his cleats, and proceeds to empty his shoe out all over his bedroom floor.

5:00 – I begin the arduous task of getting Alex dressed. He’s far too interested in telling me about his princess library book than putting on his uniform. After much pleading, I finally get him all decked out. Meanwhile Cameron has decided that the smaller cup Justin is wearing is actually his, and a fight breaks out between the two of them over whose cup is whose. I try to explain to Cameron that he needs a bigger size this year, but he fitfully claims the other one fits him “perfectly,” and will not give in. So Justin agrees to wear the other one, and after much adjusting, I manage to retrofit him with the larger cup without getting completely undressed first. He looks like Dirk Diggler in a tee ball uniform.

5:15 – Cameron and David are fighting because David won’t let Cameron take his bat to practice. Cameron is now in histrionics because I haven’t bought him his own bat, saying that I promised I’d do it, and haven’t, and is making his case that middle children are the most neglected and forgotten human beings ever born into civilization. I try to explain to him that regardless of whether or not he gets a new bat this year, one is not going to materialize in the next five minutes, so he needs to get his shit together, make do, and go to practice. I also remind him that he hasn’t followed through with many of the commitments he needs to honor, including cleaning up the closet that he ransacked last week looking for a jacket. Cameron refuses to go with me because I’m being “mean.” I’m all ready to go into Mexican stand-off mode, but Barry jumps in and says he’ll drive him, stealing away the precious five minutes of peace I would have had driving back home. We pore over schedules and e-mails to figure out where he’s practicing. I have no confirmation e-mail, but Barry says he has some copy of a coach’s e-mail saying that they had two practices scheduled for Tuesday, but one was really tonight. Whatever.

5:30 – Justin and Alex are outside. Quiet. I get their water bottles ready, and watch ten minutes of The Big Bang Theory on DVR before Alex comes in with a wet shirt, declaring that he’s not going to play baseball because Justin spilled water on him. Meanwhile David comes upstairs, almost has a breakdown when he thinks we’re out of salami, but quickly recovers when he finds it, and wants me to cut a hoagie in half for him because in his 12 years on this earth, he has apparently not been schooled in the fine art of using a bread knife.

5:40 – Barry and Cameron are back. Cameron doesn’t have practice tonight. Right. As I said earlier, I couldn’t find an e-mail confirming practice tonight amidst the 400 other e-mails about schedules, practice changes, game, tournament info, uniform changes, pictures, tee-shirt orders, location changes, date changes, and volunteer requests for four different kids on five different teams.

6:00 – Justin and Alex’s game. I manage to get Alex to play catch with me to warm up. Other kids want to warm up with him, but he’ll only throw with me. I put his helmet on, thinking maybe I’ll get him to hit off the tee into the fence like the other kids are doing pre-game, but he’s much more interested in playing with the duck feather he found in the grass.

6:20 – Alex won’t go play the field. He’d rather drink water and argue with Cameron, who showed up carrying a sandwich. I offer him a dollar if he goes up to bat two times. He doesn’t want to because he says he doesn’t know when to stop running. We assure him that the coaches will help him. He gets a hit off the tee, Barry runs to first with him and with the help of half the coaching staff, he makes it to first. By the time the next kid is up and he’s on second, he’s playing in the dirt and instead of running the bases all the way home after the last batter, he cuts through the pitcher’s mound, and comes over to me.

6:35 – Alex is done. He’d rather pester his teammates on the bench and try to mess around with my camera. After he spit on one of them (a charming activity he recently learned), I’d had enough. David was walking to the field, and I had to take him to practice. I removed Alex from the game, and brought him along. As we’re driving, I miss the turn to the Rec Center fields, thinking I’m going to the fields at Lake Ann Park. David alerts me to this, and gets all huffy for a second. I pull over to turn around. I thought there was only one car behind me, and I wait for another car to turn before pulling out. As soon as I do, a white pick-up is bearing down on my driver’s side of the van, honking his horn and braking. Feeling like a complete moron, I give a “yeah, sorry, I’m a total dumbass” wave of the hand, and continue on. Then I yell at Alex for getting me so distracted and stressed out by acting like a little shit all day, and list every offense that has rattled me today, including spitting, giving the dog a half a block of cheese, wigging out over watering plants, throwing shoes at my head, acting up in the middle of Target, tearing the screen out of the window, not letting me get any work done, threatening to pull down curtains, telling kids he’s going to stab them with butter knives, having a meltdown because I wouldn’t give him money, and using phrases that he learned from his brothers and their friends.

And then my head exploded.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012 

The Baseball Bunch

This spring and summer I have four guys playing on five different baseball teams. David and Cameron are both on a traveling tournament team in addition to their in-house league teams, and Justin and Alex play on the same coach pitch team, coached by my husband. That’s a lot of baseball. And a boatload of laundry. I love everything about baseball though, so other than the logistics of getting everyone to and from where they need to be, I enjoy it. Especially on a night like tonight where David’s team won by a single run in a very well-played game. Cameron had a practice at the same time and place as David’s game, and Justin and Alex played a game at the park that is pretty much in our backyard.

With Alex I use the term “played” rather loosely. By the time I showed up after David’s game, he was sitting by my friend, Amber, telling her stories about The Wizard of Oz. He dismissed my suggestion that he go up to bat or grab his glove to play the field, telling me that “it’s boring.” I’ve known Amber for a long time, and Alex has met her several times before. But we see her regularly now since her son is playing on Justin and Alex’s team. He knows her name is Amber, but for some reason has decided that her name should be “Jade.” And since she told him she thought Jade was a cool name, he’s called her Jade for several weeks. It’s so weird. So he spent most of the game talking with Amber/Jade, both names of colorful ornamental stones, which I doubt he knows.

David grabbed a high throw, and threw down a tag on this guy trying to steal second. Out.

A visit to the port-a-potty is apparently more interesting than the ballgame.

He gets the Most Cutest Player award at least.

Justin in his straight-up stance with David, Penny and Alex (sort of) looking on.

He got a hold of that one.

© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012