Monday, September 22, 2008

NY Yankees and our Sunday of love

Yankee Stadium has had its celebratory final game. ESPN interviewed a bunch of current and former players and had some sort of attempt at a "red carpet" to catch all the celebs.
Why, pray tell (I'm using 'prithee' later) do we care? We care because we live and breathe for the Yankees. BigD grew up in those parts. His grandparents raised their large Italian family in the Bronx. All of those brothers, their sons and grandsons and on down the line are Yankee fans. That is not an option. Yankees. Forever.
Our sons have followed the tradition. Our Young Son was a Yankee for at least 5 Halloweens. Paul O'Neill to be exact. As he is our fourth child, we have no pictures of it, but he remembers it vividly. He would still have the tee-shirt (child's size M) but The Sophisticate lost it.
BigD has lots of stories about going to Yankee stadium. He never tells us those stories, but they exist. Now his travel schedule lands him in NYC and in Yankee stadium, randomly, several times a season. RANDOMLY this past week, during the LAST WEEK of games at old Yankee Stadium. Completely accidental and random.

During all the pregame and postgame hoopla about Yankee Stadium, they showed some black and white clips from the '50s and '60s, and I had a weird sensation of being thrown back in time. I was a Yankee fan before BigD came along. I learned it from my Granny.

Granny was reared in a little town in the south. She went away to college in Virginia, married a glamorous pilot after the war (World War I), and they lived in New York for much of her married life. She was widowed in her mid-forties, so she moved home to her little town in the south. She also started smoking. Actually, I think she was ALREADY smoking, but just started smoking in public when she returned from New York emboldened. And, even without a husband or sons living with her, she was a Yank-eh fan. A college educated, widowed, smoking fan of the NY Yanks. She came a long way, baby, before the rest of us did. She drank Tab during the daytime, sherry with her friends in the afternoon, and a Tom Collins when my father was pouring.
Granny loved her 'Yank-ehs' In those days, we saw baseball once a week on Saturday afternoon, assuming that the Yank-ehs were playing. Granny left the lights off in her living room all day long, because it was hot. She also had a very luxurious couch with down cushions. And a candy dish full of bridge mix. SO... I laid on the down couch, ate bridge mix and read books which we had brought home from the library. She watched the Yank-ehs. It was cool, and dark and quiet. Also, smoky, but I was used to it.
I spent many summer Saturdays in the shady living room, lying on the down couch reading and eating chocolate covered raisins which I had picked out of the bridge mix. Granny, Eve cigarette in hand, sat in her magenta chair, silvery blond hair wreathed in smoke, watching the Yankees on the black and white TV. She called her boys by name - I just remember Mickey and Whitey. She would bring home as many books and as much candy as it took to keep me quiet since she would be watching the ball game. As a mother, I appreciate how much she respected my elementary aged self by not expecting me to be entertained by baseball on television.

BigD and our sons are more assertive about Yankee fandom. We have the cable-tv add-on that lets us see 947,342 baseball games a season. We either watch the Yankees, or watch some other team to see how it relates to the Yankees. We also hate Boston, so we watch them a lot, hoping to see them lose.
BigD sits at our Young Son's football games with his Blackberry in hand following the Yankees. Our sons get text message updates on the Yankees. This summer, while the Yankees were making my guys miserable, I read the whole Twilight saga. They come and get me when Andy Pettitte pitches. "Mom, come watch your boy."
How, prithee (told you) did Andy Pettitte get to be "my boy"? Seriously? Look at him! OK, back to the real the early years, BigD and I took our babes (there were only 2) and made an annual pilgrimage to New Jersey to visit the fam. We always went to the city (but never to Yankee Stadium). Amazingly, there were on street corners, big buses emblazoned, " Blessed Heart of Jesus Holy Baptist Church" or "Big Sandy Methodist Church - Jesus' heart is as big as Texas" or something equally un-New Yorky. Near the buses were earnest southern teenagers, in tee-shirts, passing out fliers that said things like "Jesus will Save the Heathens of New York." or "Let Jesus In to Heal New York -the New Sodom and Gomorrah." Or something equally subtle.
Problem #1, is that no one in NYC can understand you if you have even a moderate southern accent. Trust me, it was there that BigD first stepped up to make some necessary purchases...because no one in the bodega could understand me. Perhaps Farsi, but not Southern. Problem #2, everyone in NYC wears black, so the neon tee-shirts with the blood-dripping thorn of crowns on the back...not so effective.

Anyway, there is no city in the world that couldn't stand a dose of God. NYC seems particularly secular and evil-ish to those of us from the Bible belt. But I could not comprehend how a bunch of teenagers in neon yellow tees and jean shorts were making a dent with the crazed people who wash windshields and then bang on the window until you pay. Or any other New York people. I mean, it's just not like it is here - there is not a fish decal on every car, no "God is my co-pilot" license plates, no billboards with scripture and an invitation to dinner at Wednesday night church followed by a passion play. So, what was God going to do about New York?
One thing he did was send Andy Pettitte. I mean, seriously? Look at him! A fine specimen of a Christian, in my opinion.
My second personal most memorable Yankee moment was some really important game - certainly a play-off game, and maybe a World Series game. If I would go and wake up our sons, they would tell me exactly which game, the score, the stats - all of it. Pettitte pitched well, they were leading, and the relief pitcher was in. Things were tense, and they kept showing Pettitte in the dugout, with a towel over his head, which was bowed. The announcers were all crowing about how nervous he was, and how he couldn't bear to watch. They said that he was hiding under the towel.

I knew EXACTLY what he was doing, he was praying. And I said that to our boys, who were watching. And they said "No, you crazy woman, he's sweating." So, game over, Yankees win. Hooray for all.
Postgame interview is Andy Pettitte himself.
TV guy: "So, Andy, was it just too nerve-wracking to watch? Were you afraid he was going to lose it for you there at the end?"
Andy Pettitte, southern accent and all, stood up tall and laughed out loud, towel in hand. "Oh, no. I wasn't nervous. I was just praying. A bunch of us get together and read the Bible and pray together. I was just..."
TV guy interrupts, "But Andy, you were bound to be fearing the worst. You didn't even take the towel off your head until after the game. Possibly losing this big game after your great pitching! What did that feel like?"
Pettitte: "Aw, naw, I was just praying for him. I wanted him to know how much confidence we had in him. I was praying for him."

So, God sent missionaries to New York City indeed. They wear pinstripes, not neon tees. Who better to speak to New Yorkers than Yankees? Also, who better to speak to my sons? Win - Win - Win!

And - after all the day-long woo-hah, my guys informed me that IF...somebody loses this many games, and somebody else beats Boston, and the Yankees win this many more games....IF all that happens, we did NOT just see the last game in old Yankee Stadium.

Let the praying begin. eta: Let the praying begin for NEXT season the NEW Yankee Stadium.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Think later.

" You aren't still going to the laundromat, are you?" It's raining. What else might I be doing on Friday afternoon, between the end of the school day and the football game. . . .here at the laundromat?

What can I say that will redeem your thoughtlessness?

Now, that we have gotten THAT out of the way....

Among the many things I do, I teach. A really important lesson is "THINK before you speak." (...or you may sound very stupid, or hurt someone's feelings.) We tell them the "think before..." part, and hope they figure out that they will sound stupid or hurt someone. Being a successful adult requires this basic skill, or you could get fired or sued or something harshly grown-up. I spend a good bit of each day grappling with the idiotic and thoughtless words of the adolescent crowd. Also, of some adults.

"Gosh, I hope my kid doesn't major in education. What a dead end job. He'll never make any money and there's no future."
Thanks, I'll remember that when I'm grading your child's paper.

A few more phrases need to be stricken from the vernacular of grown ups. We just don't need to be saying these things. Ever.

"I'm saving this seat."
6th and 7th graders are particularly concerned about who sits with whom (Yes, thank you for asking, I did pause to consider who or whom). So, they want to 'save seats'. We do not let them save seats, because
  • it's rude
  • it leaves people out
  • it's quite rude
  • it causes a lot of wandering and spilling of trays
  • it's so rude
  • it makes 6th graders cry . . . especially the boys
  • it's really very rude

Imagine my surprise when I was told grown women...that they were 'saving this seat' - and not for their elderly mother who is coming to see this one single football game or a small child. No, seats were being saved for other regular parents, who just hadn't made it yet. On one single evening, I was told twice that I couldn't sit down IN THE FOOTBALL STANDS because the "seat was saved." Seriously? Ladies, look around, there are plenty of seats. I moved - though I was directed to a seat a row down, with the assurance that they would "still talk to me." Seriously. What are you going to say? Are you going to tell me who is rumored to be going steady? Perhaps we will pass notes? Maybe we could make a little club, and decide who we are NOT going to ask to join. I did not cry, because I am not in 6th grade.

And then, imagine my suprise again, at CHURCH no less, when I was asked to move so that another woman and her friend could sit together. These are two grown women. Seriously grown - over 40 - WAY over 40. It happened twice. The second time by a grown woman who arrived 20 minutes late, with 6 adults and wanted me to move so all 7 could sit together. In a church with no fewer than 150 empty seats. Seriously? Are you for real? I moved. I left, laughing. Sort of.

So you are bound to be wondering if I smell or have a horrible communicable disease. I am wondering the same thing.

"Let's all get on the same page.

If you must, just go ahead and say, "We're doing this my way." It means "Don't mess with me, I want total domination." When your boss wants 'everyone is on the same page' it actually means "Which one of you cowboys is not doing what I said?" When you are in a conference, hypothetically a parent teacher conference, and the 'same page' phrase is uttered, trouble is brewing. Trust me, I sit on both sides of the table in parent teacher conferences. Nothing good is coming when you are "getting on the same page."

The whole "same page" image is so lame, anyway. We were saying "same page" with great wit when we had big hair and big shoulder pads. Get creative. If you want to sound all fundamental old-time religion, say "Singing from the same hymnbook." If you want to pretend like you are still in college, try "drinking from the same keg". If you are musical, or want people to think you are, try "playing from the same score." Sporty? How about "using the same playbook"? Cultish? "Drink the same kool-aid" Native American imagery? "Smoking the same peace pipe." Uber-christian? "Kneeling at the feet..." (oops, no farther, I don't do the lingo.) Cars? "hitting on all cylinders" Oh, you want to sound threatening? Then use "on the same page."

Do you think it would be OK if I wear my new expensive brand jeans to ____ (insert event)? Or will I look stupid? It doesn't matter how you LOOK, it sounds ridiculous coming from a woman with children in college. It's all about you and your jeans, or your purse, or your shoes. I actually think that you have no sense, if you cannot figure out what to wear to any given occasion. Grown-ups get to decide what to wear and when to wear it. Usually without a lot of input from other grown-ups. Also, I shop, so I don't need to you tell me how much you spend on clothes.

The single important exclusion is some particular dads who need desperately to ask what to wear every single time they leave the house, unless they are wearing a suit. With the tie picked out by someone else."Is that your Young Son sitting on the bench?" No, actually it's not. It's a couple of big, beastly kids who are tired from playing the whole game. The live tackling-dummies stand up the whole game, helmets in hand. But perhaps thinking before speaking might apply here. Nothing good ends with "sitting on the bench."

"Did you change your hair? It looks so cute! You look 10 years younger!" 10 years younger than what? The unspoken is "because your hair has been looking gray and frizzy and you've been looking pretty old and un-cute." Where are we going here? Grown-ups are supposed to be thinking before speaking.
Have you lost weight...or something? There is just no happy ending for this conversation. Am I fat? Was I fat? How about, "I KNOW I'm fat."

How many calories do you think are in that corn dog? Especially don't say this when I am eating a corn dog.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

The Rules of Eating

I don't actually cook every day, so I cook on the weekend. That way we have yummy, economical, home-cooked meals fresh and ready when dinner time comes. Except, when we don't have them. Maybe on the weekend I am, hypothetically speaking, looking at a potential college for PPP. Hypothetically. Not cooking. Also not grocery shopping.

Tonight I am serving rotisserie chicken fresh from a huge chain grocery store and Stauffer's Macaroni and Cheese. If you cook it just a minute longer it makes this cheesy brownish crust in the corner. That's the only part I like.

On to the rules - # 1 - hungry means fast. Restated - "give me sugar, and I want it now." Today, after my particularly wild morning that started in the dark headed to the airport followed by a traffic jam that made me LATE to school, I was feeling the hungry -means-fast feeling. And, within the friendly halls of my school I rounded up these choices:Two beautiful pears.
Brown-sugar cinnamon Pop-Tarts with the University of Florida Gator logo somehow reproduced on the icing. (Yes, that is Vergil's Aeneid, in Latin). They look alarmingly like temporary tattoos people put on their faces at football games and swim meets. If I had gone through the whole football themed box of Pop-tarts, theoretically I would have also seen Ohio State or Boston College. Question. Why are we putting tattoos on Pop-Tarts? To make them even more disturbing? Is the tattoo infused with vitamins? Does it make them even more nutritious than a brown sugar Pop Tart is already? Who would CHOOSE a Pop Tart over any other food because of the college logo? "Sorry Mom, I only eat UT Vols Pop Tarts!" It's the sugar!
Which did I choose? Seriously?

Two beautiful pears or two Pop-Tarts with a tattoo? Remember, HUNGRY means FAST.

Surprise - the Pop-Tarts. I ignored the logos. I also ignored the jarring juxtaposition of Pop Tarts and the Aeneid. I ate them because they were easier and ...easier...and more disgustingly junk-foodish. But so gooey and hot.

Under what circumstances would I have chosen the pears?
  • The circumstances of the pears being the only food available.
  • EVER.
Why? Hungry means sugar. I always choose Pop Tarts over Pears. But I choose Toaster Strudel over Pop-Tarts, and there is some faux fruit-ish substance within the Toaster Strudel, which is actually like a Pop Tart on steroids.

So.. the rules. I use another little-known rule to make sure that my growing adolescents eat nutritious and well balanced meals. One is taking advantage of the rule of home means hungry. Both PPP and our Young Son walk in the door starving. Same with The Sophisticate and BigB. It makes no difference if they walk in at 3:30 or at 5:30 or at 3:17 a.m. Home means hungry. Let there be food, because the fastest, easiest thing is what's going to get eaten.

SO, back to the rules again - the plan is to put out the food that the minions are LEAST LIKELY TO EAT first, when they are starving, and they will eat it. Put out a bowl of freshly washed grapes. Our Young Son chooses this begrudgingly, unless he is starving, when he will eat 4.7 pounds of grapes in roughly 12 minutes, then ask "Are there any more grapes?" It also works with brussell sprouts, the fresh kind. I discovered this when I steamed some up and they were ready before the rest of the meal - and they became finger food for the minions, who tossed them back like bon-bons or truffles or some exotic mushroom and gourmet cheese combo, that I only hear about while planning people's wedding menus.

Here are a few things my unsuspecting offspring have eaten, when I apply the 'starving to death, here's your only choice' rule:OK, that's not fair. That's Mimi's salad, and it has a lot of bacon on it. Even I will eat that salad. So will our Young fact he'd eat all of them.

Back to the rules - here are some things they have eaten after arriving home STARVING.
  • Salad, of any kind . . . often without bacon
  • 2 whole pineapples
  • 3 quarts of strawberries
  • avocado
  • smoked oysters
  • asparagus
  • spinach
  • a whole rotisserie chicken
  • almonds with no salt

If I DO NOT supply a "healthy alternative," they will eat bowls and bowls of cereal or a whole stack of Club Crackers until I provide an alternative. Then, they will say "I'm not hungry, I just ate a bowl of cereal." Never mind your actual food.

Back to the rules. The "don't count calories" are a mystery. When one eats more calories than one expends, one gains weight. Unless they are 'don't count' calories, like the ones in the 'Hundred Calorie Packs." Or the ones that you lick from a bowl, or eat directly from a knife. Those no-count calories. Pop Tart calories count. Trust me. I have tested the theory. Often. They count. Every single one of them. But they shouldn't. SO...back to the rules. No count calories apparently actually don't count for some people. Our Young Son is - how to put this delicately and not offend his sensibilities since he is one of my three loyal readers? Our Young Son is LEAN. Very, very, very lean. It starts with an 'S' and it rhymes with BRAWNY. He thinks he eats a whole lot. I think so too. But, since he is not moving from the S word to Brawny, I have decided to count his calories. If Michael Phelps needs 10,000 calories a day ( or some obscene number ) then our Young Son, by a complex algorithmic calculation needs about 6OOO calories. Or I made it up. (Actually, I did Google up a website, and he needs more than 4000 to maintain, so there.)He thinks he's eating that much, but since he's not gaining - from the S word to the B word - then we are going to COUNT CALORIES. For Weight GAIN. I have counted a lot of calories. But not for weight gain. EVER.

A food diary. For weight GAIN. That is a concept I cannot grasp.

I'll report back.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

A Traditional Mom

Tradition, tradition – all this talk of the tradition rich schools that our offspring attend makes us sound like some kind of tradition-whores. Seriously? What about MY life? MY traditions? Seriously? I have no life. I feed, encourage, support, teach, guide and document these young adults who are still under my care. Can’t I have a few traditions too? Yeah – it’s my traditions right now. Because I said so.

The traditional ‘what am I going to wear today?” ritual – in which I pick through the huge pile of clothes on the chest beside my bed to find something to wear. I wear the same thing over and over and over again, simply based on its location in the pile. I do smell them before putting them on. This week I found a skirt that has been missing since I went to the Latin convention in April. I thought I left it in the hotel, but it surfaced this week. The benefit to choosing from the pile in the dark is that I don’t see the wrinkles and the food spills until I get to school – where ever-observant middle school students point out the stains, while the tres blasé high school students pretend not to notice but titter amongst themselves about the remnants of oatmeal on my skirt. As if I am not standing 3 feet away. Once I wore (on purpose, as a test) the exact same outfit to school every day for a week. No one said a thing. Black skirt, denim shirt, clogs. 5 days straight. It helped that it was on top of the pile every morning. They were so kind not to judge me. Hah!

Traditional Post Labor Day White-Putting-Away. The Sophisticate, PPP and I wore all our favorite summery white clothes all of Labor Day Weekend. I wore my white sunglasses until the last glimpse of the Gustav tinted sunset disappeared Monday evening. And now the sunglasses, along with the daughters' sundresses are retired. If I had white shoes or white pants, I would put them away too. . . forever. I am using “put away” loosely, as in relegate to the bottom of my pile of clothes. A few weeks later, the white sunglasses are now “put away” on the kitchen counter. But I am GOING to put them in the top drawer of my dresser. I hope I remember that when it’s spring, or in the bleak midwinter when I want to pull them out to remind me that summer is coming.
The traditionial "I hate to make the lunches" rant. The rant rages on in my head. I am OK if I get them made while I am cooking something else. I am unhappy if it's sleepy time for me and I have not made PPP's crustless chicken salad sandwich and grapes, or our very lean Young Son's two ginormous meaty sandwiches plus all the other caloric things I can find to put in a bag. It's a good thing they can get food at school, because the twin to this tradition is the traditional "I forgot to make the lunches, do you want string cheese and mandarin oranges, or do you want to get something at school?" I think the Sophisticate is sneaking in and making her lunch when no one is home.The traditional after school snack followed by nap on the couch. I walk in the door starving, a left-over primordial response to the end of the school day, and sleepy from getting up in the middle of my biorhythmic night. (see above: I'm not the only one who indulges in this one.) I eat a very healthy snack, like Toaster Strudel, with the little white icing squeezed out of the plastic packet, which looks alarmingly like toothpaste. I then sit down on my couch and consider my need to grade papers. I fall asleep instantly, a direct physical response to being in a small enclosed space with children grades 6 – 11. It’s a day full of drama and hormones. It’s exhausting…trying not to laugh at their self-absorption. I meant to say it’s exhausting preparing interesting and challenging lessons and then presenting them in a dynamic and engaging way. While planning two weddings. And wrangling this household. Any of that. All of that.

BigD’s ritual call on the Friday afternoon drive home. BigD works in a town other than our own. He drives home on Friday afternoon. He texts me when he leaves.
BigD: I’m just now leaving and I will be home at 8:17 pm.
Me: OK.
BigD: I have a ham. (I don't even ask).
Me: I’ll be asleep on the couch when you get here.

Then, when he’s about an hour away I text him:
Me: We are out of Dog Food you better get some, if you want to make it up the back steps.
BigD: I have this ham.
Me: We don’t have any Diet Coke, either. If you want some, bring it.
BigD: OK, anything else?
Me: M & M’s.
“M & M’s” signifies the end of the traditional Friday night phone call.
The traditional Friday night dinner ritual: “What kind of take-out are we having tonight?” All that stuff we bought and cooked last weekend, to be prepared and all that? It's gone. There is no cooking on Friday night. We go through take-out phases. There was the pizza phase, which lasted roughly 17 years. Then there was the Chinese phase, when we were deluded into thinking that it’s OK to spend all that money on Chinese food for these hungry people, because we will “have leftovers all week.” We don’t have leftover anything. Ever. We are currently in a sub sandwich phase, and we order the large size sandwiches, so we can have leftovers. We don’t have leftovers, but we order as if we will. The leftovers are gone by 10 pm.The FOOTBALL thing – My tradition is the chatting and the picture taking and the talking about how interestingly the other parents behave. I do pick up crowd signals, so I pay attention when things get exciting. Or someone gets hurt. It also changes dinner into Corn Dogs.Traditional stalker pics. I love it when they don't know I'm watching. Traditionally.

The traditional sock basket. We've had a sock basket since PPP was a baby. Theoretically, one sorts all the socks into a basket as they come out of the dryer, or when found stuck in a nightgown or down in a corner of the dining room sideboard. The idea is to immediately pair the socks up and voila – socks, in pairs for all. Our version? We dump the socks into the basket and when someone needs socks, he/she goes into the sock basket and finds two that are similar enough to wear. So, tradition lives on, and our Young Son is found digging through the sock basket every morning. And it seemed like such a good idea. The cat sleeping in the sock basket tradition. OR, the traditional cat gives-birth-in-the-sock-basket. Self explanatory.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Pretty Pretty Princess - the girlie traditions

Our younger daughter, Pretty Pretty Princess, had a busy summer. Dang, Gina, the girl can manage her hair and her sunglasses with the best of 'em. It makes her mother proud. Also her sister, the Sophisticate, who defines sunglass chic. PPP is now in the throes of her senior year in High School. I like single gender education (I like homeschool too, but this is hard-core school.) That's pretty much all I have to say in the matter - I did the research, it works for me, it works for them. I don't want to hear about all the reasons they need socialization. Trust me, they are adequately socialized.
At PPP's school, the traditions are thick. We can't turn around without considering 'what the seniors do.'It started last spring with the creatively named Spring Fest, at which there is a princess, though not OUR PPPrincess. The '08 Seniors walked out of the chapel at the end. The Juniors 'moved up' into the senior seats. They wore short white dresses. And it was a big huge deal. Yes, indeed, there were tears shed by me.
Then, we had a party. Dressed in their short white dresses, they all lined up to get their traditional picture taken.
We bid farewell to the Lacrosse seniors - with a rose and a water bottle full of candy - suddenly, PPP was among 3 lax seniors. To prepare for her senior year she had a busy summer. She went to the beach with a few close friends, from church. Evidently, they got dressed up and went out to dinner. And lined up to pose for pictures on the beach.
The OFFICIAL senior picture - and all the posing that entailed.
She went on her mission trip to Mexico. All the pictures of the 'mission trip' are of PPP and her few close friends lined up for a picture. And, again, in Mexico posing for a picture with a few friends. Making GANG signs. Seriously? PPP thinks she's making a "gang face" too. Little Bear, cut out the glaring. Oh, look, here she is again. At home, going for a snow cone. And lining up to pose for a picture. I guess one of the traditions of her senior year is lining up and posing for pictures. At least they aren't making gang signs, since that location is pretty close to some actual gang-type activity around the corner or so.A day or two before school started she went to paint her block on the wall. The wall is somewhere in the school. Each senior paints a block on the wall -whatever that's about. Evidently it's "2009 We Mighty Fine" That's what we get I guess at a girls' college preparatory school - we mighty fine. We agonized for weeks over the design of her particular block. At least no faux gang signs.

I just signed permission for her to leave school to eat lunch out. My favorite senior year memories were "out to lunch" especially when we went to the Country Club where my friends blithely signed the ticket with no notion of how that chef salad was paid for. Go with the Country Club girls, PPP. It remains the best Chef Salad in town.
They have a lounge, where only seniors are allowed. They take food to it and eat it. So when I forget to make lunch, it's not a disaster. PPP, baker extraordinaire, likes to contribute to the glut of food in the lounge. Derby Day is a huge tradition. Part of the tradition is that the seniors wear red shorts and red sports bras and roll up their tee shirts, thus baring the abdomen. Baring the tum-tum is a no-no in their little protected world. Not on Facebook though. There are scandalous pics on Facebook.
It is also evidently tradition for some people to paint themselves green. I think I remember green year. It's also a big tradition to line up with your friends and have your picture taken.
Derby Day = Mud Day, evidently
Mud + Giant Blow-Up Slides+ Bare Tummies = Derby Day. "2009 We Mighty Fine. "

Some mothers attend . . . to watch this...whatever it is. I did not attend. Surprised? I cannot imagine myself standing in a field watching PPP get muddy and line up for a photo op. I rely on the photos of others.
It's as if she is watching herself - a senior-in -progress. A tradition filled year, indeed.With all the traditional photo taking, and mud wrestling, and gang signing and snow cones, PPP gets tired. She then crawls in bed with her I-Pod. A lot she does that. Also Facebook. That's a tradition too.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

High School Football - the traditions

Our Young Son attends a "college preparatory school for boys," a rarified atmosphere indeed. After homeschool, I believe in single gender education. I like it, they like it, done.

My boy is still pretty lean, and as a sophomore, he gets to play football twice a week. On the TURF and under the lights. At last.
Once on the JV team, and again for the BIG SHOW on Friday night. Monday JV football is a bonus for us, to give our lean young men more "playing time." For me, that means more time in the stands. Isn't that fun for me? Two games a week. YAY! Football games! YAY, again!
This past Friday was the first " varsity home game" and in my disability to write here and do anything else, I am talking about it a week later. In this tradition rich atmosphere, a home game entails lots ....of stuff.The National Anthem is sung by our own a capella singing group. This group of young men makes a tour of the girls' schools in town every year. I cannot think of many schools where you have a group of young men, including some in pads and others in tee shirts, standing in a circle and singing on the track, then dispersing to play football or participate in the general mayhem in the stands. It's amazing.The team, all gazillion of them, leaves the locker room and walks purposefully to the field led by the coach and I guess some important seniors. They move through a fan tunnel. The fan tunnel is really exciting. YAY! Fan tunnel! Or "Owl Walk" take your pick. YAY! Parents and students and other FANS line up, clapping and talking, on either side of the walkway from the locker room to the field. The clapping intensifies and the talking turns to yelling, as the team takes the longest possible route. The fans yell and scream and whistle and the players clomp through. Cleats on concrete - noisy. They are big in those pads and helmets. I had to work really hard to figure out where my guy was. Then I remembered his number. That was a help.
In addition to the yelling and whistling and general noise making, people start smacking them on the helmet or shoulder pad or slapping hands. And sometimes the big padded young men slap back. The fan tunnel fan can get pretty small as people push to see and crowd in, or reach in to give an encouraging punch, so the team has to push their way through. It's ....well, it's tradition. Sort of scary and wild, but another tradition. Twice per game. It's a way for everyone to get 'fired up.' They pray before the game. They bow their heads and put a hand on another's shoulder. From where I sit, in the stands, it sounds like a deep rumbling swarm of something. When longtime Coach Jake died this summer, his sons spoke about praying in the huddle before games. Many of his former players came to the Coach's funeral. They stood and prayed out loud in unison, as if it were another pre-game huddle, as the Coach had led them so many times. That day, I stood silently, listening to the voices of many, many men praying together. I saw them reach out and put a hand on another's shoulder. They honored Coach Jake. That day, the Coach' s grandson and namesake sang. He also sang the National Anthem at the football game last week. Real tradition doesn't desert you with time. They do this thing with the helmets. Not sure what that's about, but they do it alot. And make a big loud boy-noise. Something about "WIN" or "FIGHT" or "TEAM" or "WOMEN" I mean "LADIES" of those, maybe.
There is a lot of cheering and talking on the sidelines. Yes indeed, our Young Son does a lot of chatting on the sidelines on Friday night.
When someone is "down" or presumed injured, or exhausted, they 'take a knee' and they also take the helmets off. I'm not sure what the point of that is, unless it's to be sure that there is no surreptitious coaching or planning or whatever. Also, they are probably tired of standing up and they are hot - so removing the helmet and taking a knee is a nice little break. But I am a mom, so maybe that's not right. And then it's over. Win or lose, they all line up and shake hands. Like men do all over the world. At the end of the day, everyone shakes hands and goes on about their business.
Practice is hard, there's a lot of yelling, and a lot of running, and a lot of time spent. Homework goes late because of those hours. On Thursdays though, there are notes in the lockers from the cheerleaders "Go, #70!" "We're #1!" Also there is food. The seniors eat the good stuff, like the chicken nuggets, but the Young Son got brownies, and was pleased.
The one with the black on his cheek - that's the Coach's grandson and namesake. According to Mimi, who knew him so well, Big Jake had a beautfiul voice too. And there's Little Bear - glaring at the camera. What's up with that, Little Bear?
So...let's see.
  • Lots of time in preparation.
  • People who care about you encouraging you...also hitting you.
  • Walk-in together and follow the leaders.
  • Sing the National Anthem.
  • Pray together.
  • Talk to your friends.
  • Be respectful when someone might be hurt.
  • Stick with your buddies.
  • Shake hands when it's over.

OK. I think it's worth it. I mean, EVERYBODY at school doesn't get brownies and notes from the cheerleaders.