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Monday, October 28, 2013

False Start, 3-Hour Delay


Have you ever had one of those mornings where you think to yourself that you should rewind the day and start over?  That was my Saturday.  For such an anticipated day, I just could not get anything right. 

After a few days of fun and consequently little sleep, I awoke on Saturday excited for the very last flag football game of the season.  I rushed Number Two around (where are your cleats?  Eat your breakfast.  Did you brush your teeth yet?  Find your water bottle.  Your hoodie goes under your football jersey!  What good is your jersey if no one can see it?) and practically pushed him out the door, preparing for my hubby to drive him to practice and swing back to pick us up for the Big Game.  I had big plans – hot chocolate, blankies, hats and mitts . . . I had to get moving and in order to do that, Number Two needed to be ready and waiting for Big Daddy. 

“I want to see cleats on your feet and your mouth guard in your mouth!” It was not the first time I said it, so it came out a little nasty.  Number two stood there; whining, saying, ”meeehhhh, but I don’t know where they are.  Mom!  Find them for me.”

“I didn’t wear them.  I will not find them for you.” Umm, why do I ever say things like this?  Still Number Two stood there. 

NOW!  You’re going to be late.  Do you want to be the last one on the field?  Maybe your coach will make you do pushups.  Nah.  Forget it.  You can be late.  I’ll bring my camera to take pictures of your pushups and post them on facebook.”  That worked.  He was out the door in a flash, looking for the cleats and mouth guard that are always kept in the van.  (In my family, this strategy works out exceptionally well, as sometimes I have to lift a child or two, kicking and screaming, into the van. This way, we never forget shoes.  Or socks.  Or chips.)

Two excruciatingly long minutes later, in walked a pathetic looking crying child with one untied cleat on and one in his hand.  “I can’t find my mouth guard!” 

Double damn.  I put off buying a second one in case we ever lost the first, and I was doing so well . . . of course this would happen for the last game. 

My nerves were shot.  It was five minutes until they had to leave to make it there on time, I still had to fill his water bottle and tie his shoes.  Number Three was yelling for “mo ce-we-oh,” hubby was dressed and bathing in cologne and I was a mess of bed head, jammie pants and hole-y sweater.  Not to mention the lack of coffee because of the perpetual case of chaos that morning.  My annoyance kicked into high gear when I spied, just seconds after he whined about not finding his guard, Number Two sitting on the floor with his iPod. 

“GET IN THE VAN AND LOOK NOW!”  I bellowed.  He ran.  Surprisingly.

We turned the van inside out – I even pulled open the stow-and-go.  Nothing.  I checked in the netting behind the seats.  Nothing.  We looked under the car seat.  Nothing but crushed Goldfish crackers.  I checked his coat pockets form the coat he wore at the last practice.  Nothing.  I had him do a play-by-play of his movements following his last practice.  Nothing that made sense.  Big Daddy checked the dryer (really??), the backpacks and the shoe bin. I checked the garbage, the junk drawer (twice) and the toy box.  Number Two had a few false memories (unsurprising and very fitting) about taking it outside, downstairs and to his room.  After twenty minutes of this we gave up and agreed he wouldn’t even go.  He couldn’t play without the guard and there was no time to go and get a new one, boil it and fit it and still make it to practice (and it was the last game anyway).

With my shoulders slumped, I walked out to the van to close the doors and saw his coat on the    ground . . . the same coat I had already checked.  Guess what I found?  Yessir, right there in the pocket.  I felt about a foot tall (nothing new there).  I spent a lot of time that morning chastising him for not being responsible about something so important and there it was, in a perfectly acceptable spot. 

Big Daddy and Number Two raced off to make the last half of practice and I raced around getting dressed and puling out the warm gear for the undoubtedly windy, 44-degree football field.  Just as I had everything ready and the water on to boil for the hot chocolate, my phone rang.  Big Daddy's voice on the other end of the line had a hint of a smile when he said, ‘Hey, there is no one on the field.  Like no one.  Like there are tumbleweeds blowing around.”

Wha?  That can’t be.  The fields should be full. It’s Saturday right?  I looked at the calendar.  Yep. It was Saturday.  But the game time on my calendar said we were three hours early for the game.  It figured.  All the stress, all the discipline, all for naught. 

So there Number Two and I were nearly three hours later, parked at the field and twenty minutes early to the actual practice time.  We watched as kids were dropped off to their games, running across the frigid field in winter coats with their team shirts on over and then tucked in to their pants, hats and hoods flying off their heads as the wind blew.  We searched the field for his team color in vain.  Five minutes before practice time I started to seriously wonder where his team was.  Five minutes after practice was supposed to start I started to wonder if I screwed up again.  That‘s when I spotted his coach just standing in the parking lot, looking around.  I told Number Two to run out and ask where his team was.  He grabbed his things (super responsible all of a sudden) and bolted to his coach.  His coach yelled to me that he was going to delay practice a half hour and would keep my little player in his van with any other kids that might show up.  Okay, I thought, but I didn’t understand what he meant by “might show up.”  Shouldn’t they all be here by now?  Of course, that confusion was cleared up when I saw that I had a voicemail on my way home.  “Hi, it’s the assistant coach for the football team.  It’s too cold for the kids to practice too long, so please don’t show up until 1:30.”  Yup.  There it is.

As if all that wasn’t enough, after I went back home to pick up the rest of the family, we were ten minutes late getting back to the game.  We are never late.  Ever.  It was in the stars for this day, though.

As we traipsed across the field and behind parents wrapped in wool blankets and kids under makeshift blanket tents to block the incessant wind, I caught a glimpse of a bright blue hoodie tearing down the field.  Parents were cheering and clapping and I whipped around, camera around my neck but not at the ready.  I saw a little dark-haired guy in a blue hooded sweatshirt make a touchdown and amid all the cheering, I yelled, ‘that was Number Two!  I missed it!  His first touchdown!  I missed it!”  My heart was in two places at the same time.  My excitement/disappointment was cycling all over my face. 

I readied the camera in the hopes of getting a post-first-touchdown smile and froze a little in immediate embarrassment.  That blue-clad boy was not my son, but my son’s best friend who was playing opposite him that day and wearing the same layer beneath his jersey (which was green and not gray like my son’s, adding more ridiculousness to the entire situation).  I got a picture anyway, and then many more of Number Two’s bestie making multiple touchdowns. 

What crappy parent is actually relieved that it wasn’t her son making a touchdown?!  As much as I’d love for him to feel that exhilaration, I’d hate myself for missing that moment on film.  My priorities may be a little skewed, but I learned some very valuable lessons that day:

1)   I won’t ridicule a child unless I am absolutely certain they, and I, looked everywhere first.  And when it’s warranted, I’ll have no shame yelling about irresponsibiity.
2)   I should check my voicemail often.
3)   I should find out all the information before cheering for my son, by name, for a touchdown he didn’t make.  And if I do make that mistake, I should follow up with cheering for the kid that actually made the touchdown. 
4)   Calendars are only useful if they are referred to in a daily basis.  Cameras, too. 





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