The (Cheerleading) Struggle Is Real

Last night was a perfect storm of parental fandom. Kid D had a baseball game, Kid B had a soccer game, and Kid E went out for a bike ride… all at the same time. With Sheepdog out of town (attending said soccer game with both sets of grandparents), it fell on me to cheer for everyone simultaneously.

I sat in the bleachers at the local baseball park. We just came off a 13-day break in practices and games due to the long Columbus Day holiday weekend, so everybody was rusty, including the fans. The weather during our last game had crept into the 90’s, but we live in Atlanta where the weather is manic, so the forecast called for lows in the 50’s before the game would be over. The mom next to me was wearing shorts (“I refuse to put on pants when I still have a tan!”) but she was prepared with two blankets and her PTA Mafia friends sharing body heat around her.

Kid E joined me at the baseball game, but he doesn’t like to sit still for long. We brought his bike and helmet for entertainment and distraction, and after his nutritious dinner of a soft pretzel and Reese’s cups from the concession stand, he took off to ride like the lead in Breaking Away. But also with instructions to check back in with me after every couple of laps around the track. The park was packed and he is super cute and I will not have anybody stealing my baby.

About a half hour into the baseball game, the soccer game of the season for Kid B’s team began at Glenn Warner Stadium in Annapolis. I’m talking Army vs. Navy and at the service academies that match is no joke. Go Navy! Beat Army!

Like I said, Sheepdog was there in person, but I was home with the others and had to watch online. I tethered my laptop to my cell phone and proceeded to do the 10-second whiplash dance. That’s 10 seconds of watching Kid D’s baseball game, 10 seconds of scanning the park/ bike path for Kid E, and 10 seconds of screen time watching Navy Women’s Soccer.

I think I held down the fort pretty well. It can be tricky, and it was more luck than skill that I was able to see most of the great plays as they happened. Add in a request from Sheepdog to periodically brief him on the status of the baseball game, as well as receiving other notifications from an awesome team dad who lives near the Naval Academy and live texts game updates to a group of us who normally can’t be there in person, a phone call to check-in and let me know what her plans were for the evening from Kid C, as well as a mayday search for Kid E after a no-see for too long (found him, or rather he found me) and a relatively minor bike crash right in front of the concession stand… it was a pretty busy two hours. I had developed an eye twitch, but I got to see it all!

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Kid D has a stellar squat game

Fast-forward to 8-something p.m. Kid E was done riding and had joined me watching both games from the bleachers. The Blue Rocks, Kid D’s team, were up 5-3. Rules in the 13-15 year-old league are that you have to play at least one hour and forty-five minutes, so we started the 5th inning. The home team kind of fell apart (it was cold, it was getting late, and they also had the past two weeks off…) and the Blue Rocks ended up scoring 12 runs. The score was 17-3. The third out against us took FOREVER to happen, but it finally did. All we had to do was get three outs against them and we could all go home.

There exists a kind of surreal, slow-motion recollection of this next part for me. The Army/Navy game was getting wild. Navy tied it 1-1, after having trailed for the whole first half and a good part of the second. The crowd got rowdy after the tying goal was scored, and the play on the field was getting heated. Army got a yellow card. With just minutes left, Navy almost scored, but the goal stayed empty. The Blue Rocks got 2 outs against the other team. We needed JUST ONE MORE. Fans were standing in the bleachers at both games. We were all on edge. The excitement was palpable. I was still doing the 10-second drill back-and-forth, screen-to-field. I kept forgetting to breathe.

Then it happened… I gave the baseball game 10 seconds of my attention (that third and final out was still elusive) and then I switched to watching online as a beautiful, sweet kick went perfectly into Army’s goal. I’m not sure at first if it was live or a replay but I quickly realized that Navy had just scored on Army with 0:44 left in the game!

I jumped up from the baseball bleachers and screamed out, “GOAL!” as loud as humanly possible while the other fans and parents looked at me like, “Does she even know anything about sports?”

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

New House Rule

Yesterday morning I dropped Kid B off at the high school for her second-to-last day of Summer Bridge Program.  I swung by my sister’s house on the way home to do a book swap.  We were talking for a bit and I noticed that my nephew was playing video games while his three little sisters were bugging the crap out of him.  Knowing full well what it was like to be a kid stuck at home with three little sisters who bug the crap out of you, I offered to kidnap him and bring him to my house to play with Kid D for the day.  So, off we went.

On the short drive over, I fired up the speakerphone and called my house.  When Kid C answered, I told her to tell Kid D that I was bringing him a very special surprise, and then I hung up.

It took no more than 30 seconds for my phone to ring back.

“Hi, Mom?  Ummm, yeah.  I wanted to know if I could have a treat too.  Because I have been really good and all,” said Kid E in his best, I-am-the-cutest-kid-in-the-universe voice.

“Well, kid, you have been a pain in my ass not so bad lately.  But I am bringing a surprise home for your brother today.  You can maybe share it a little, but it is mostly for him.  And you can tell your sister, ‘None for Gretchen Weiners.  You go, Glen Coco!'”

When we got to the house, I had my nephew climb into the way back of my truck.  Kid D was waiting for me at the kitchen door, so I told him he could open the hatch and find his surprise.  When he found his cousin waiting for him, he was thrilled.  They bounded off together to play whatever it is eight and nine year old boys play in the summertime.

A little while later they were eating a mid-morning snack… bowls of cereal and some fruit.  These boys are big enough and independent enough that I don’t have to help them at snack time.  They were talking and eating and having a good old time, but they weren’t horsing around or being rough.  I was nearby in my office working on the computer.

Next thing I know, I hear my nephew say, “Where is your mom?” and then, “AUNT STACY!”

I ran into the kitchen straight away.  A piece of cantaloupe had become stuck in Kid D’s throat and he was choking.  It dislodged by the time I got to him and he was breathing fine, but both boys were very visibly shaken.

I hugged Kid D and praised his cousin for his quick response.  I think I went on to hug Kid D about 17 more times over the next few minutes.  He was truly alright, so I was just an embarrassment and a nuisance to him at that point.

A short time later my Crazy Mom Thought Train left the station at about ninety-nine miles an hour.  What if his cousin hadn’t been with him to call for me?  What if it had happened when I wasn’t at home?  What if he trips while running down the stairs and breaks his neck?  What if he gets hit by a car while he is riding his bike to his friend’s house down the street?  What if he gets kidnapped at the bus stop?  What if?  What if?  What if?

I calmed myself down and took a few deep breaths.  I was spiraling out of control and needed to reign it back in a little.  I can not control everything.  All I can do is teach these kids to act reasonably, follow practical rules and hope for the best.  It is really all anyone can do.

But I still insisted on implementing one new house rule:  No more eating again.  Ever.

At least it will be helpful for me during bathing suit season.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

Oh, wait.  I think this was from another house that I live in during college.  My bad.

Oh, wait. I think this was from another house that I live in during college. My bad.