Very Much Better

Last Sunday, I took Seth to this Dominican-run baseball place where the owner calls him “DiMaggio” and kicks his butt in a baseball workout. It’s so cozy over there, so sweet the way all the employees treat the boys and there’s a softball coach for girls, as well. I hate many things about baseball, which seems to constantly teeter on the brink of outright mysogyny, but this place reminds me of the things I love: the friendly community, the “we’re all in it together” camraderie, the way Seth was training with a couple of 9-year olds, and they all got equal respect. As I was sitting there reading my novel, the owner passed by, squeezed my shoulder and said cheerfully, “He is very much better this year, Mama, very much better!”

Baseball: it’s complicated.

Saturday night, Tex and I decided against joining the boys at an intergenerational dance being held at church. We were still grumpy about the way the choir director was fired and the way lip service is given to diversity when the reality is business as usual.*. And because of our snit, we missed the opportunity to see our boys all dressed up in their ties, busting a move with their friends.

Church: it’s even more complicated.

As we drove back from the baseball place, I took advantage of Seth’s good mood to try and talk with him a little about emotions – how they come over us like the weather, but like the weather, we can wait for them to pass and not, for example, start beating up on our brother in an attempt to deal with anger or boredom or whatever it is. I spoke from experience, as Tex and I had just reacted to our emotions, allowing our upset at the church to keep us from hanging out with the guys in their ties. Seth claimed to understand about the emotions-as-weather thing, and I certainly should understand it, the amount of Pema Chodron I read. But will Seth beat up on Owen again? Will Tex and I balance enormous chips on our shoulders about the way straight people are clueless at best and bigots at worst?

Humans. I ask you.

*Although the good news is the colleague who we thought had let us down (see my last post) actually ended up coming through – he just needed us to stick with him while he figured things out.

Lucky Seth! He really does look a bit like the Yankee Clipper!

Published in: on February 6, 2014 at 5:15 PM  Leave a Comment  
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Can I Get a “Thanks, Mom”?

Today was one of those days when I felt like the minivan was welded to my butt. Seth didn’t get up in time to walk to school, so I drove him, and then, as soon as school let out, he was on the phone to me having forgotten his baseball cleats. I drove them over to him at the high school but it turned out I had the wrong cleats (soccer, not our nation’s favorite pastime) so we had to come home again and while we were at it he had a piece of naan and a dish of fried rice and then I drove him to the field all the way on the other end of town and then I came back and got my 13-year old neighbor and drove him to the high school where he had a drum lesson (his mom was taking his sister to a doctor’s appointment and I was standing in), then I drove to the library and picked up some stuff that was on hold for me then I drove to the baseball field and watched the game (they won) and then, after trying in vain to make eye contact with Seth to see if he needed a ride to his other mom’s house and failing completely, I assumed he was either walking with friends or getting a ride on a bus or something, and I drove home. As I walked in, the phone was wringing or even ringing and of course it was Seth, wanting a ride. After sharing with him a few choice words, I motored off, lamenting our fossil-fuel-driven lifestyle and brainstorming to myself how to do a better job not burning so much of the damn stuff in the future.

Seth was very quiet in the car despite my friendly attempts to make conversation. Lately, I’ve been prompting him to thank me when I ferry him about rather than just allowing him to escape in an entitled and rude fashion. “Can I get a ‘Thanks, Mom’?” I’ll say cheerfully, and, without doubt, incredibly annoyingly, right up there with when I put words in his mouth like, “I’m glad you asked that question, Mom – I do have some homework tonight, and I’m going to get right after it.” Anyway, he usually grunts out some version of ty, and it’s amazing how satisfying that is. Everybody tends to take these little things for granted, the rides, the snacks, the being at home and checking in. Around this time of year, they get a little lip service, maybe a card, maybe breakfast in bed, but in general, the lubrication of the family is fairly invisible and unremarked upon. Even I tend to forget how hard I’m working and how important it is – what a gift it is to all concerned, me included – that I am able to be a stay-at-home mom. If I don’t bring my contribution to the family to light, all my important work might remain unremarked upon by my boys and (shudder) they might go out into the world expecting women to wait on them. So I will keep putting those words in their mouths, and you know what? Every once in a while, unbidden, like an offering, a song, a sacred poem, there they are, issuing from the mouths of surly teens unprompted and every time they do, a little more of the good stuff leaks into the world. Can I get an “Amen!”? Amen!

Published in: on May 9, 2012 at 6:09 PM  Comments (2)  
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