Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Take Me Out to the Bore, I Mean, Ball Game

I was going to write a poem about softball but then realized that there are not enough words that rhyme with "boring".

#2 and #3 are both playing on different teams and there seems to be a game to go to almost every night! I just don't have the patience for softball and baseball. It is so slow. I once told another mom, if they could condense the actual action parts (someone hitting a ball, stealing a base, running home, throwing someone out, etc...) into about 25 minutes then I would be interested. But, it is almost painful watching the pitcher pitch a ball, the catcher drop it, walk over to pick it up, throw to the pitcher, who pitches another outside ball and on and on and on.....I (and the ump) get so excited when he calls a strike. And, speaking of the umps....they have proved to be the most entertaining part of softball this season.

Once our ump didn't show up for a majors game (girls nine through twelve), so a parent from the other team was recruited to ump. After long pauses, he made some calls on the pitches but when the ball was hit, our runner made it to first just as the first baseman caught the ball. The ump shrugged his shoulders and said, "I don't know". We all just sat there waiting for him to call it one way or the other until finally our coach called our player out more out of awkwardness than anything else! However, there are some more professional umps out there. Our minors team (ages seven through nine) played a game with an "official" ump who took his job very seriously. Too seriously. By the fourth inning I had nicknamed him Paul Balart, Softball Ump. He was a walking rulebook and The Husband (who coaches our team) started to get upset when he instructed our outfielders to move four feet off the base line when they were only about three feet off. When seven year olds are hitting (or, in most cases not hitting) there is no need to stand way out there! But, he was the official expert and it made for an entertaining game. Not a play went by without him reviewing the proper way to throw a bat, where to stand, when to swing, etc.

I also keep "The Book" for games. I remember feeling like this was some great honor a few years ago to be taught such a prestigious task. However, I don't like The Book. I'm a little too chatty to do a good job keeping The Book. I had done it a few weeks ago for our majors team and at the end of the game I declared it a tie. I'm shouting, "we tied!" out to the coaches, telling the girls in the cockpit or dugout whatever it's called, and a parent came up to me and said she thought we were down by one. "Oh no, The Book has us tied. I counted it several times", I assured her. Meanwhile coaches from both teams were gathered on the field and I was called over. Apparently, I counted a sixth run that came in on a five run maximum inning (too many stupid rules) so we lost. Whoops! My bad (and, my big mouth)! I have not been asked by that coach to keep The Book again since that game! Since I'm married to the other coach, by default I usually have to keep The Book. However, I am training young Jedi knights to take over the task and now #1 can do it, as well as some of the random kids at the softball field who just happen to be passing by. I buy them ice cream in exchange for relieving me of the dreaded task.

I also like to help coach. Uninvited, of course. I think since I coach soccer I feel entitled to coach just about any other sport I go to whether I know anything about it or not. I try to "help" with the line up and throw my two cents in. I almost offered to ump a game but realized I don't like it when people hate me. And, since I can barely do The Book, I probably wouldn't know a strike zone if it hit me upside the head (and actually getting hit upside the head was a good possibility for me in my easily-distracted state....look, a butterfly!).

Of course, I am somewhat kidding. I really enjoy watching my kids play just about any sport. And, there is something to be said for being outside catching up with the other moms, enjoying the warmer weather and being thankful it isn’t raining or snowing!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Politics, American Idol and High School

I've reached the conclusion that politics are a lot like American Idol and both of those are a lot like high school.

There are stereotypes, shocking revelations, backstabbing, popularity contests, obsessions, scandals and a whole bunch of people who think they know more than they really do about any given topic. There are fans and critics. There are leaders and followers. There is victory and setback.

This comparison occurred to me while contemplating the fate of the next presidential election. Where are the candidates that stand out? I probably wouldn't have voted for him, but at least Donald Trump had some chutzpah. He was like the Casey Abrams of American Idol….most people knew he would not win, but it sure was fun to watch him! It is going to take a savvy, high tech campaign to go up against our rock star president, who believe it or not, has already been campaigning. His "town hall" meetings are basically just an attempt at reaching out to younger voters and telling them what they want to hear. Reminiscent of high school years when everyone follows that one charismatic good-looking kid even when some of the things he/she does has you lying awake at night (I'm not speaking from personal experience, my high school years were fairly unscathed in that regard!).

But, how does this compare to American Idol, you ask? Well, much of the criticism of American Idol this year is that the voting process is not fair. Many of the shows most talented hopefuls were sent home early in the race. The same will hold true of Republican hopefuls. We did not end up with the best candidate in the last election. I can only hope the same mistake does not happen again. People hear what they want to hear based on their values and convictions (or lack thereof). The most loyal supporters will pound the pavement/school lunchroom for votes (or text their vote in 200 times). Are they the majority? Probably not. Part of that problem is the reality that is created by those "in charge"....there is so much that goes into convincing people to believe something that is not always entirely true. We need to be aware of that and not blindly follow a person or doctrine.

Is it a good thing that these particular things have so much in common?  I guess that depends on your perspective.  Most of us have moved past the politics of high school and American Idol is just a TV show.  The part I'm really concerned with is the direction our country will take after this next election.  I only hope everyone keeps their eyes open for the bullying, manipulating and phony tactics that will be employed in the next 18 months.

Monday, May 23, 2011

It's Almost the Most Wonderful Season of the Year

Yesterday, we ran over to Hersheypark to grab some kettle corn.  It is convenient enough to just grab our refillable bucket and run inside the main gate (park at Chocolate World) and fill up on that sweet and salty yumminess for a mere $2.02.  #3 was begging to go on a ride (what a tease to go to Hersheypark and not ride anything) so I relented and let them jump on The Comet.  It was drizzling and around 6pm in case you are wondering what kind of a cruel mother takes her children to an amusement park and says they can't go on the rides.

As I waited for them on a bench, devouring the kettle corn (much to their disappointment when they returned to a half-empty bucket) that familiar feeling washed over me.  Yes, I was in my Hersheypark Happy Place.  Summers with season passes mean wandering the park for a few hours in the evening or afternoons lounging in a chair with my Diet Pepsi (ugh, wish it was Diet Coke) watching them splash in the water park.  I dare say these few months restore me to have the energy for the remainder of the months that involve school (mine and theirs) and all the activities that go with that.  However, this summer may challenge my Hersheypark Happy Place since I am taking double classes the month of July, #1 is in Footloose (the musical) and I am coaching #3's travel soccer team.  I still plan to enjoy my down time as much as the fall I hope to be working more so this summer sort of feels like my last yahoo.

Summertime gives me more time to reflect.  I appreciate the slower pace and the extra time available to spend with family and friends. I can read and write for the fun of it.  There is a vacation of some kind to look forward to each summer. And, I like to grab my Bible and coffee in the early morning on my days off work and hang out on the deck before anyone else wakes up clamoring for breakfast and "what are we going to do today?".  I keep the snacks on hand for the impromptu pool parties that seem to spring up when the kids invite their friends over.  There is mint tea to brew and chicken to grill.  I really appreciate these small things....including the kettle corn!