“THAT” Kid

FADE IN:

EXT. TEE BALL FIELD PARKING LOT NOON

A MOM and her five-year-old KID climb out of an XL SUV.  He is dressed in used baseball gear and holding a water bottle.  She is carrying his equipment.  They hold hands as they walk toward the field.

MOM

We are a few minutes early.

KID

(not really listening to MOM)

Am I gonna get to run the bases?

EXT. TEE BALL FIELD DUGOUT

The KID drops his water bottle in the red Georgia clay.  The MOM picks it up and places it on the bench.  She makes a quiet groaning noise as she stands back up.

MOM

You might.  Depends on what the coach wants to do.  Are you excited to meet him?

KID

(starts to act shy and grabs the MOM’s pant leg)

Other parents (mostly DADS) and PLAYERS, also dressed in mismatched t-shirts, baseball caps, and cleats begin to arrive at the field.  The DADS are making small-talk and greeting one another.  The PLAYERS are all hanging back, sticking close to their parent(s).

EXT. TEE BALL FIELD PITCHERS MOUND

COACH

(loudly, with a commanding, yet friendly, voice)

OK, players, welcome to tee ball!  Why don’t you grab your gloves and come join me here on the field!

The DADS and PLAYERS follow his instructions.  Everyone goes around in a circle and introduces themselves and their PLAYER to the COACH.  They all shake hands.  The last people to meet the coach are the MOM and her KID.  The KID is obviously getting more and more anxious.

COACH

And who do we have here?

MOM

(extending a hand to shake)

I am Stacy and this is Kid E.  We are excited for tee ball.  Thanks for being the coach.

KID

(Not moving out from behind his MOM’S leg)

MOM

(to the KID)

Say hello to the COACH and shake his hand.

KID

(releasing the death-grip from his MOM’S leg, he reluctantly and timidly extends his right hand)

Hi.

MOM

(to the COACH)

It seems he is a little nervous about the first practice.  I’m sorry about that.  He’ll be fine once they get to playing.  If not, I’ll do some cartwheels to make him laugh.

COACH

(giggling)

Nothing to worry about!  And I’m glad to meet you… I knew you’d be a fun one when I saw your upside-down picture on Google.  I linked in to everyone on the team.

(to the KID and the other PLAYERS)

We are going to have some fun here on the tee ball field!  Now let’s divide into squads and start some drills!

The KID is once again attached to MOM’S leg.  He has now started to shake.  Tears are falling down his chubby cheeks and he begins to make a wailing noise that brings to mind torture or wild animals.  They make their way off of the field.  MOM quickly realizes the direction this is heading and squats down to eye level with the KID.

EXT. TEE BALL FIELD DUGOUT

MOM

What’s the matter, baby?  Why are you getting upset?  This is supposed to be fun.  Please don’t cry.

KID

(between body-wracking sobs)

I am trying not to.

MOM

(sarcastically)

You are not doing a very good job.

(clearly frustrated, but trying to remain calm and cool)

I don’t want you to be sad.  Take a drink of water and calm down.  Let’s just go out on the field and join the rest of your team.  Please.  I’d really like you to stop crying.  Please.

KID

(gesturing all around the field)

I don’t know about this.

MOM

(loving but firm)

Well, I do.  You asked to play baseball, so I signed you up for baseball.  This is not torture.  This is not dangerous.  This is supposed to be fun.  Great American Pastime fun.  Now let’s go and play.

EXT. TEE BALL FIELD OUTFIELD

The KID looks unsure, but the MOM and her KID walk slowly onto the field.  Practice has already begun.  The COACH is teaching one squad how to field ground balls.  The ASSISTANT COACH is teaching the other squad how to throw.  They are clearly having fun.  The COACH and ASSISTANT COACH are upbeat and encouraging.

COACH

(to the KID)

Hey, Kid E!  Let’s see if you can field a ground ball.  Can you show me “ready position?”

(COACH crouches down into “ready position”)

The KID starts to cry even louder.  The death grip intensifies.  MOM extracts herself and looks the KID in the eyes.

MOM

I can not make you stop crying, but I can help these other players practice “ready position.”  We came here to practice baseball and that’s what I’m going to do.

(to MICHAEL, one of the PLAYERS)

Michael, can you show me “ready position?”  Here comes the ball.  Keep your eye on it!

The MOM continues to have a catch with other PLAYERS.  She doesn’t even have a glove, but no matter.  It is getting hotter and she starts to sweat.  The KID keeps on crying.  The moaning noise waxes and wanes.  He does not leave his MOM’S side.  He almost gets hit with the ball several times, but she just works around it.  After several minutes, the COACH calls for a water break.  The PLAYERS disperse.

EXT. TEE BALL FIELD DUGOUT

MOM

(hanging on to her last threads of patience)

Here… take another drink of water.  And please, for the love of all things holy, stop making that noise.  I am hungover and tired and your father should be here right now but he is erecting a deer stand with Paul in the woods somewhere.  I did not force you to play baseball this season, but I will absolutely make you finish out this practice – tears or no tears – because you made a choice.  This is what you committed to do, and you are going to suck it up and do it.  Do you understand me?

The KID suddenly stops crying.  He wipes the snot from his face.

KID

(with the face of an angel)

I’m sorry, Mommy.  I’m ready to play now.

MOM

(sighing)

That’s my good boy.

The MOM takes a drink from the KID’S water bottle and checks her phone for text messages.

FADE OUT.

photo

OMG, this is going to be the longest tee ball season ever.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…

That’s Gonna Leave a Mark

I mean to do some random things… wash my car, clean out the storage room in the basement, send a wedding present to the couple who Sheepdog knows but I don’t, and who has now been married for well over a year – maybe even two or three.  I think they just had a baby.  I guess I should add “send a baby gift” to the list now too.  For whatever reason, I am just not inspired to do these things.  Ugh.  Thinking about it makes me feel like a slacker and a little icky, so I just put it off until later.  Much later.

But when it comes to my blog, I am motivated to write about things as they are happening in my life.  It goes nicely with my intention for “This Is How I Do It” to be a sort of memory keeper for me and my family.  If it is out of order or if too much time passes between the actual event and the time I press “Publish,” then it just seems wrong to me.  I don’t mean “untrue or fake,” because I don’t make up the stuff I write about here.   Maybe I mean it makes me feel like a slacker and a little icky, like the things on the never-ending, random to-do list.  But lets instead call it “less genuine and organic.”  Yes, that is exactly what it feels like.  Nevertheless, I’m finding out that sometimes it is necessary to break my own rules…

There is a milestone that I meant to address at the end of the school year, but it got pushed aside when Braden died.

(Quick side note:  Man, I really miss that kid.  I continue to struggle with understanding his sickness and his untimely passing.  I waffle back and forth between believing that life is precious and meaningful and I should soak everything in like a desperate sponge, or thinking that it is all a random crapshoot, so why bother?  Fortunately, I loiter most often on the former side of that fence.  There are several songs that remind me of him and they move me to sobbing tears when I let myself listen.  I really want to argue with him about the NFL trades (like Welker to the Broncos and Tebow to the Patriots) and the IRS scandal, and Edward Snowden, and Egypt, and Turkey, and Trayvon Martin, and the list goes on and on and on.  I wish I could talk to him or text him.  But that is no longer possible.  Sigh.)

Anyway…

In May, Kid E finished his last year of pre-school.  They did a ceremony back in April with songs and dances and a picnic in the park to mark the special occasion.  They did it early because his school had two GA pre-K classes and both lead teachers were pregnant and due sometime during the month of May.  Both of them delivered their beautiful babies before classes were out for summer, so substitutes came in to finish out the year.  They were very nice teachers and the kids still learned and had fun, but the end result was that the last day of school was kind of  “meh.”  With everything else that was happening in the last two weeks of May this year, I let the last day of pre-school pass without much fanfare.  Stuff happens, right?

But it is too bright of a highlight to let it slip by unacknowledged.

Starting with Carol and ending with Miss Bethany, my kids had some of the most awesome pre-school teachers on the planet.  They loved them like they were their own children.  Even on the days when I could not have been happier to get them out of my sight drop them off at school.  Especially on those days, and that is something I am very thankful for.  These teachers taught my kids so many things, but they also taught me as well.  And I’m talking about the important stuff here…

IMG_1235

IMG_1238

I don’t care how cute those heathens look… this drop off deserves the Dance of Joy!

Carol taught Kid A how to be an outside kid.  She loaded up four or five kids a day and strollered them down to All-Wars Memorial Park, where they ran and jumped and played, until they collapsed in heaps and napped for hours.  Carol taught me the importance of regulating my kid’s day naps so that she would actually go to bed at night.  She also potty trained Kid A for me.  The first lesson was necessary for me to learn, but the second was just plain awesomeness.  Carol also taught me the importance of a margarita after the kids are in bed (her husband rented out the big machines for parties as a side business), which I found to be invaluable advice over the years.  Cheers to Carol!

Rosemary taught Kid B how to soothe herself to sleep when she was almost a year old.  Up until then, Sheepdog and I traded nights of sleep… he would get one, then I would get one.  It was a special time in our lives (and by that I mean e-special-ly SUCKY).  Kid B did not go to sleep unless someone was bouncing her, even during the day.  I don’t know if she had colic or we spoiled her, or what, but it was just plain awful.  And then like an angel from heaven, Rosemary came into our lives, and Kid B started sleeping through the night.  And it turned out she wasn’t a horrible devil-kid.  Rosemary also potty trained Kid B.  I did nothing but drop her off at pre-school and then I would pick up a non-diaper-wearing kid at the end of the day.  So I guess Rosemary taught me that, even after having two kids, you still may not know how to do the basic stuff, like get them to sleep or potty train them.  She also talked me off of the ledge when I was completely desperate and sleep-deprived and wanted to sell Kid B on e-Bay.  I really owe her a debt of gratitude for that one.

Kid C had the least amount of pre-school teachers because I had stopped working after I had her.  Following the adage of quality over quantity, the one that stands out the most in my mind is Miss Cora.  She was from a faraway land and said Kid C’s name in the most awesome way, with about seven more syllables than it actually has.  She taught Kid C about letting her freak flag fly.  Up until then, I had been butting heads with that kid about absolutely everything, mainly because she had/ has a very different way of doing things than I was used to.  Kid C took Cora’s lessons to heart and really started being her true self without reservation, which is a little bit crazy and a lot of bit different.  And somehow, they both showed me that it was okay for me to let it happen too.  It was a very good lesson for all of us.  Oh, and Cora also taught me that when a kid swallows a button during quiet time because her friend dared her to, don’t freak out because it will be just fine and probably just come out in her poop.  Another good lesson.

Miss Carla taught Kid D how to read.  In pre-school!  She was a seasoned veteran when it came to teaching kids (and their parents) all sorts of things, but the timing was just right (he was ready; she was so very patient) for her to instill a love of books and reading that continues with him to this day.  And even after four years I was still adjusting to having a kid with a penis, so Carla’s incredible patience was a well-timed example that I definitely needed in my life right then.  That patience also came in handy when I had to eventually potty-train the last kid.  I guess I had to learn sometime, right?

Kid E started pre-school early, especially given that I was a full-time SAHM.  But he would just follow me around all day, staring at me, muttering, “Where my brudder?”  So, I loaded up his backpack and his lunchbox and sent him out the door when he was barely two.  He had the most awesome teachers… every single one was fabulous.  Miss Lori, Miss Judy and Miss Tina (You’re Not Ugly) at Little Creek, and then Miss Waldy, Miss Robin, Miss Bethany and Miss Erica at Open Arms, just to name a few.  They taught him so many things, but they all taught me that teachers do sometimes have favorites, and it is pretty damn awesome when it is your kid.

Yes, the pre-school years have finally come to an end for my kids.  They were filled with some amazing experiences, and some crappy ones as well (lice letters, anyone?), but overall I can say that pre-school has left an indelible mark on both me and my kids forever and ever.  And for that I am very grateful.

This is a mark that I left on one of the schools when I may or may not have backed my truck into a No Parking sign.

…and this is the mark that I allegedly left on one of the schools when I may or may not have backed my truck into a No Parking sign.

Wish me luck for tomorrow…