O Lord, thank You for grandsons whose energy output could light Chicago. You know that not too long ago, I easily outraced them. Now, however, my slow legs and weighty derriere always bring up the rear. OMG, even the two-year-old — especially, the two-year-old! — leaves me in the dust.
O Lord, in the past, when nearby school playground noise resembled Bastille Day, I prayed for teachers — and slammed the window shut. But this morning, after months of ghostly silence on our block, OMG, I feel like throwing it open. And throwing confetti!
O Lord, thank You for the joy of picking blueberries with our son and his sons. Though, OMG, You’re so right! For accurate payment, we should have weighed the two-year-old before and after. No blueberries in his bucket, but plenty inside.
O Lord, some estimate You designed millions of different kinds of flowers growing on our planet. Whoa, how did You think up such diversity? Though I suppose that shouldn’t surprise me — because OMG, You’ve custom-designed every single one of billions of people.
O Lord, Mama Robin must have flunked Nest-building 101. But OMG, I’ve flunked a few aspects of motherhood, too. Despite less-than-perfect efforts, may our children grow strong and soar in Your heavens!
Lord, Thank You for my daughter’s adventurous spirit.Thank You for her supportive husband, who cared for their boys while she hiked in Michigan wilderness for three days alone. But OMG, please keep her safe as she challenges herself and her world. And please teach her husband not to Photoshop her pics.
Fierce soprano voices yell, “Batter! Batter!” Super-sized helmets top skinny little necks. Pint-sized players wield mitts big as sofa pillows (and about as effective).
A hometown crowd cheers and munches hot dogs and popcorn.
It’s the season for Little League Love.
Unlike most onlookers, my husband and I are comfortable spectators. Our children are too old for Little League, and our grandchildren have taken different directions.
During our son’s baseball career, I spent years at ball parks with my eyes tightly shut — often double-covered with hands — only venturing out of hiding to visit the concession stand.
Now, I actually watch. These players’ ages range from nine to 12. Some kids probably do Gillette shaving commercials to supplement their allowances. Others might be mistaken for bats — except for hats, mitts and spit. For not only do they imitate favorite major league players with elaborate windups and batting rituals, they have mastered expectoration at near professional levels.
Moms don’t applaud this aspect of their game. But they cheer every catch, throw and at bat. Family members try to behave so their kids will. But when offspring are involved, the gentlest mom — and grandma — grows fangs when the umpire dares call their boy out.
I never acted like that. Though … I do admit going a little overboard in motivating my child, egged on by another mom.
Still, we helped our sluggish team morph into a slugging team. My friend jumped up and informed her 12-year-old that if he fanned again, she would dance for the crowd’s entertainment. I informed my son that I would sing. Very loud.
Not only did our boys smack the ball, we inspired the entire team. Yet nobody put our names on their trophy. Where’s the Mom Love in that?
A roar from the present crowd brings me back to the end of a last-inning 0-0 tie. On a wild pitch, a youngster steals home! After the good-sport slapping of hands, they adjourn to the concession stand, where winners celebrate and losers drown their sorrows in sno-cones — and all look forward to the next game.
It’s easy for me to laud the joys of Little League from my maybe-I’ll-go-to-the-game-maybe-not stance. For parents who spend enough time watching, waiting and transporting to earn a degree, Little League Love wears a little thin.
But one dad near us sees his sons’ games as win-win situations. If their teams win, he’ll return for championship competition. If they lose, he’ll stay home and run a combine over his neglected lawn.
This dad cares about his kids, but not too much about their games’ outcome. That’s the very best kind of Little League Love.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What do you like best/least about Little League?
Oh, my God, You know that after my first child’s birth, my pastor told me, “Nothing, short of salvation, will change your life like motherhood.” Duh. With my watermelon-sized stomach, hadn’t I been defying gravity? OMG, little did I know that after it flattened—sort of—the real labor began.
So did the joy.
The dresser’s original kid probably wadded clothes Mom had folded and stuffed them into its drawers. Perhaps he yanked out drawers, climbed the “stairs” and jumped off the top with an umbrella parachute.
Years later, I discovered that dresser in a secondhand store, marked half-price. It would do until my three-year-old son started school. However, it wore a woebegone, cast-off aura.
As a teen, I’d rolled my eyes when Mom painted end tables orange and a bedroom suite blue. Who did that?
Well … I did. After a critical paint chip comparison, I began painting the chest eye-popping blue. I planned to paint its handles equally vivid red.
Then my young husband needed an emergency appendectomy. While Hubby slowly recovered from complications, I slowly finished the dresser. Late at night, I added a second coat, a third, maybe more — I don’t remember. I experienced a glad moment when I hauled the completed dresser upstairs to my son’s bedroom. An even happier one when I brought his daddy home.
Both had jobs to do. Daddy returned to work. The dresser once more endured yanks, shoves and a “helpful” kid who stuffed clothes Mom had folded into its drawers. (He also attempted to climb to the dresser top, but I stopped him on the second step.)
A doggie bank constructed from a Pringles can resided on it, along with half-consumed PB&J sandwiches and piles of baseball cards. With ABC curtains, Mickey Mouse sheets, and a carpet perpetually layered with toys, the dresser helped make the room my kid’s haven.
But adolescence sneaked in. The first clouds of Eau de Gym Shoe settled over his room and, with them, a dark cloud of protest: Mickey Mouse sheets? Seriously? Did he really need ABCs displayed on his curtains?
I changed his décor to manly navy blue. Strangely, he didn’t ask me to lose the dresser.
Perhaps, even he realized he didn’t need a bigger one. Why, when his wardrobe resided in heaps on the floor?
Plus, the doggie bank’s big smile still matched the dresser perfectly.
One day, he departed for college, then marriage. The cheerful blue dresser, deprived of its kid, looked a little sad.
Now, though, it proudly houses coloring books, finger paints, and Play-Doh for grandchildren.
That dresser was made for kids.
And this old kid still loves it.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: What furniture in your home tells your family’s story?
“Rachael needs glasses.”
My mother stared at my teacher. Neither she nor Dad wore glasses. How could their six-year-old mistake “Dick” for “Jane” on the blackboard? But my siblings also misread “Boys” and “Girls” on restroom doors. Mom soon made weekly visits to the grocery and the optometrist’s.
Meanwhile, my husband languished with poor vision longer than his parents realized. They coaxed him to the optometrist’s, promising his bat would connect with the baseball better.
As a Phillips, he probably took good care of his glasses.
My siblings and I, however, used them as fresh opportunities to annoy our parents. We don’t recall the color of brother Ned’s glasses because Mom was always swathing his bent/ fractured/twisted spectacles with new duct tape.
We all discovered innovative ways to lose our glasses. We left them on school lunch trays. Baby brothers flushed them down toilets and dropped them down heating vents. On vacation, Jean left her glasses in Louisville … or Memphis? The wind blew mine from my face as I rode in the back of Dad’s pickup.
Eventually, I graduated to the ultimate cool: contact lenses. Why I bothered, I don’t know. My bangs reached my nostrils. My own mother had forgotten my eye color. Eyes? What eyes?
I couldn’t wear soft lenses, so I paid hard-earned dollars for pieces of glass I stuck into my eyes like tacks. They worked great — except on sunny, dry days. Or cold, windy days. Or when I opened my eyes.
After several masochistic years, I decided they weren’t worth it. My boyfriend-turned husband didn’t mind my glasses at all. Not surprisingly, we produced three bespectacled children.
Inheriting my fussy corneas, our eldest gave up on contacts, too. Apparently, gentlemen still made passes at lasses in glasses, because her future husband saw past hers. When our family shed spectacles for a swim, though, he discovered we couldn’t tell time on the hotel’s large clock.
“I can almost see numbers,” our daughter said.
“I can make out the hands,” I told him. “Sort of.”
“What clock?” said Hubby and our son in unison.
Brave soul, the boyfriend married into our family anyway.
Eventually, I did the bobble-headed thing while adjusting to new bifocals. Now the media hypes laser surgery for cool Boomers.
I prefer to blow my wad elsewhere. Besides, not-so-great vision can prove positive.
Seeing the blackboard clearly for the first time, my six-year-old self never would have believed it. At this life stage, though, Hubby and I don’t miss seeing gray hairs, wrinkles or love handles.
A little blindness can be a blessing.
Your Extraordinary Ordinary: Describe your first pair of glasses. Or do you possess perfect vision?