Urban (mis)Advantures

Football vs. Futbol — September 22, 2012

Football vs. Futbol

It’s the first school term, which means fall sports are well underway! At many schools across this great nation, two different teams of cleats tread down that green field painted with yard and goal lines.  One is football, the other is that sport wear a bunch of heavily padded guys cradle a ball, stop, and huddle a lot.  Oh that’s right.  We silly Americans call the latter ‘football’ and the true futbol/football, soccer.

My son joined the soccer team this year.  They practice for almost two hours after school on every day they do not have a game.  Fridays are often home games, and they have to clear the field in time for the seven o’clock other football game.  This week, the threat of West Nile virus in the area caused the school to end all extra curricular activities and sports before six o’clock.  Therefore, the soccer game was postponed to make way for the more popular football.  This will be ending once the cooler temperatures of autumn settle in, and all those disease carrying mosquitos die off.

The Boy says the ‘football’ team calls them “foot fairies,” and calls the girls’ team “fairies.” Hmph.  Fairies?  Really?  In futbol, the ball is not coddled and cradled like a baby, and thrown only if it lands out-of-bounds or once the goal keeper catches it while guarding the goal.  It is actually kicked by the foot, dribbled down the field while the athlete runs with it, passed to other players by way of kicking, and pounded into a goal by way of, you guessed it, kicking with the foot.

Since a futbol cannot be touched by most players’ hands, they must intercept a kick by using their feet, chest, or head.  I have seen some lovely bruises from players taking a launched soccer ball to the chest.  Ankles have been twisted by proper tackling or fighting over the ball.  And last week, the captain of the Boy’s team received a broken nose from the elbow of the opposing player when they went in the air for a ball.  Nothing “fairy” about that.

So “foot fairies” the American football players call them?  Hmph.
Says the guys who wear tights and jump on other guys who wear tights.

My Baby Started High School — September 15, 2012

My Baby Started High School

When my only child went to his first day of kindergarten, I went to work with light tears in my eyes and a couple of sniffles.  My supervisor was very understanding and claimed I would cry on one other day of his life:  when he starts high school.
She was right.

I drove him to the first day of Freshmen Orientation at the local technical school, where he would go through testing to help him choose his academic career.  After arriving at the Performing Arts Center of the school, we sat in the car, waiting.  For what I was not sure.  The Boy seemed a little nervous, for he was quiet.  We listened to music of his choice and made some small talk.  I gave him advice about being honest on the testing to help place him in the best program.

Then he spotted a friend.  “Kyle’s here! Bye, Mom!”   And just like that, he was out of the car, walking towards his first day of high school.

In that moment, I froze and looked up his fading figure.  With much difficulty, I put my hands on the Beetle’s steering wheel.  Blinking away tears once again, I left.

Two weeks later, I find myself a soccer mom once again, treating uniforms for grass and dirt stains and washing them every couple of nights.  The Mister and I attended a high school football game for the first time in 20 years, not to enjoy the sport itself, but to watch our son pound away on the drum set in the pep band.  We spoke to the band instructor to offer our support with fundraising to the sadly under-funded band program.  We will be going to Parent Night and learn how to be more supportive.

I truly believe that we parents are more stressed out about the Boy starting high school that the Boy was.

A Beautiful Wedding Moment. — July 28, 2012

A Beautiful Wedding Moment.

I recently traveled to a wedding in Pittsburgh.  It was a lovely Catholic service in a gorgeous church.  Nine children took part in this wedding, including my nephew’s four-year old boy, who was a ring barer.  After performing his duty, he fell asleep on the front row pew, next to his daddy.

After the service, we all gathered around for pictures.  All dressed up in a miniature black tuxedo with a spring green vest and a rose bud tucked into his tux pocket, he looked up at my son.  My son simply donned a silver tie over a long-sleeved white blouse.  My baby nephew continued to study my son and asked:

“Why aren’t you in a costume?”

“A costume.”  How cute.

A Beautiful Moment with a Sector 9 Longboard — June 3, 2012

A Beautiful Moment with a Sector 9 Longboard

Thankfully, the Boy has shown interest in something other than video games:  longboards.  The first time he rode one, he was about six years old.  And when he dismounted and held the board longways up beside him, it was as tall as him.  So cute.  Recently one of his neighborhood friends got a couple of longboards for his birthday, so they go riding together.

Being in need of a new helmet for biking, and earning money from a neighbor a few days ago, I took him and a friend to the mall yesterday.  We were supposed to start off at Zumiez to check out helmets and longboards, but Newbury Comics highly distracted the boys for a while.  When finally making it to Zumiez, a salesperson was very helpful as my son stood on a few complete longboards.  His adolescent feet dwarfed one of the thinner bamboo boards.  It was decided that he needed to start with a cruiser, since it’s mostly flat around here.  The last board he stood on was a Sector 9 black deck with some blue pattern on the bottom.  It also had wide, soft wheels, which is what I preferred.   The Boy said he really liked it as he leaned to and fro, testing its flexibility and handling.  But, I explained, you need a helmet today, and we won’t be buying a longboard today.  (Birthday coming up in July)  He understood completely, and picked out a Triple 8 helmet.  Now I’ll feel a bit better about him biking to his drum lessons.

I separated from the boys at this time, heading out to purchase the first of at least four wedding gifts we’ll be buying this year for various couples.  Yet, I whispered to the Zumiez salesperson to please hold the last Sector 9 longboard from the front display case.  I’m sure the boys went to Gamestop while I bought the wedding gift.  Then I was back at Zumiez, and the salespeople instantly pulled out my son’s future birthday gift.

But with no box and no bags large enough to hold the longboard, I carried it with the soft underside against my hip through the Pheasant Lane Mall.

I glanced down at the Sector 9, suddenly transported back to when I was 13 and zipping along my streets on my own skateboard.  I grinned softly, fighting back the urge to pop the longboard down on the tiled floor and skating towards Target, which is where I always park.  Yet, with my lack of gracefulness, I’m sure my polka-dotted goloshes wearing feet would have slipped off the deck, and I would have impaled myself with my umbrella.  Plus, how embarrassing would it be to tell a 30-something year old woman with a Macy’s bag to stop skateboarding in the mall?  But it would have been pretty awesome though.

Now the Sector 9 rests under our bed for another few weeks until the birthday.  And I’m still fighting off the urge to ride it through the lanes.

When you get an “F” in Spanish…. — March 28, 2012

When you get an “F” in Spanish….

This beautiful moment is brought to you by academic failure. 
The following piece is a version of the signature the Mister put on our son’s cast:

When you get an “F” in Spanish,
your parents take away your video games.

When your parents take away your video games,
you go ride your bike outside.

When you ride your bike outside,
you fall and break your arm.

When you fall and break your arm,
you get a giant cast on your arm.

When you get a giant cast on your arm,
you really cannot play video games.

Don’t get an “F” in Spanish.

The Best Thing About a Kid’s Sleepover… — February 25, 2012

The Best Thing About a Kid’s Sleepover…

Another Beautiful Moment brought to you by the kiddos.

My son had a small sleepover last night, although two of the kids did not sleep.  Just how many video games can one play before the brain is mush?  Anywho, I appreciate one huge thing about sleepovers:

The house is clean.

There were no dishes on the counter tops when I came home.  The bathroom shined.  Nobody’s jacket lay strewn over the couch.  The floor was nicely vacuumed.  The Boy’s bed sheets lay straight and crisp on the mattress.  The Star Wars figurines now stand at attention in the Darth Vader holder, instead of scattered about like corpses in a mini war zone.  Although a few of his favorite characters line the windowsill.  I almost did not recognize his room when I first came home from work.

Yes, the living area is a mess of blankets, game controllers, and overgrown teen-aged boys.  The air mattress takes up most of the room, and I’m sure the TV is about to scream “Enough with the Modern Warfare game!”  And the half-gallon of orange juice was inhaled at breakfast.  But I was motivated this morning to wash the few dinner dishes before starting the pancakes, sausage, and bacon.

I am positive this “motivation” to keep the house spotless is quite temporary.

Will You Teach Me to Listen? — February 20, 2012

Will You Teach Me to Listen?

This beautiful moment is brought to you by small children, who give us many beautiful moments.

While completing my duty of grocery shopping yesterday, a young father and I played chicken in the crammed soda aisles.  I shuffled to the middle between a couple of water or snack stands to let him pass.  In his cart sat a little boy about the age of four or five.  Both of us went about looking for the grocery store brand soda.  Then I heard a question I’ve never heard a child ask.

“Will you teach me to listen?”

“Will I teach you to listen?” the father repeated with a grin playing on his lips.  “Teaching you to listen is going to be harder than I ever thought.”

I clamped my jaws down hard around my mango peach gum to keep from bursting into laughter.  I left the aisles to avoid interjecting in such a sweet and unforgettable moment between a child and parent.

Will you teach me to listen?  Let’s start with the first beautiful aspect of this moment.  This child voiced that he wants to listen to his parents.  He indicated that he would like to  improve his listening skills, to better himself.  Is this child human?  Anyway, this wee boy has realized either through an epiphany or through adults in his life nagging him to follow directions or clean out his ears, that he needs to work on listening.  And who do small children turn to first for guidance?  Their parents.

Secondly, it is hard to teach a child to listen because many adults don’t know how to do it either.  When a little one rambles on about something adults don’t care about, they see nods and hear “uh huuuuhh,” as the adult barely makes eye contact and goes about their business.  Therefore, a child learns that.  When a little one stumbles over his words, loses his train of thoughts, or repeats himself while his inexperienced, yet developing, brain tries to connect his thoughts to verbal words, adults tend to get impatient.   Half of the time, adults don’t listen to their own spouses.  If you don’t believe me, just ask your husband to repeat the last thing you said to him.

And our children are watching and learning these listening skills.

Listening to someone is much more than waiting your turn to speak.  Listening to others is one way we download information into our brains.  It is taking not only spoken words, but also body language and facial expressions into account.  It is being with someone in a moment that may or may not ever happen again.

Can we always give good eye contact or respond to everyone every time something is said to us?  No.  But when we can, it is important to do so and teach the younger generation true listening skills.