Worst call ever

I know I wasn’t the only one frustrated watching Monday Night Football last night, when a bad call at the end of the game caused the Green Bay Packers to lose and the Seattle Seahawks to win. It was the strangest ending I’ve ever seen in an NFL game and one people can’t stop talking about. The replacement refs are terrible and undermining the credibility of the NFL. The league needs to do something about it, as they are ultimately responsible for ensuring the fairness of the game and safety of their players. I even feel sorry for the replacement refs, as they’ve been thrown into a job they aren’t prepared for.

In a lot of ways, the replacement refs are like new parents. I think back to the early days when we brought Clay home from the hospital. My parents came the first week, and when he was three days old they all left to go to Target. Breastfeeding was still new, and I liked having Chase to help me get situated. I hoped they would get back before I had to feed him again. I wonder if that’s how the refs feel. They hope to make it to the end of the game before they have to make any controversial decisions. They want help and buy-in from a colleague, even one who is inexperienced like them.

When Clay was 12 weeks old he suddenly began crying a lot and throwing up. I was lucky my mom was visiting. She had baby experience I didn’t have. She walked around with him to soothe him, giving me a break. I also called my friend Lindsey, whose daughter had reflux, asking if she’d had the same symptoms. She was more experienced and gave me great advice. My mom kept me sane until the next day when the doctor gave Clay reflux meds. I was doing my best to keep my baby happy, but those with more experience helped me make the right call.

Our kids aren’t babies anymore, but I still have the “replacement ref” feeling sometimes. Fortunately Chase and I are on the same page as far as discipline,  but when our kids fight or misbehave, sometimes we see things differently, just like the refs. Maybe I only see Avery hit her brother, when Chase sees Clay pinch her first. I would just punish Avery, while Chase knows that Clay deserves to be punished as well. Sometimes we don’t see an incident at all, and we have to try to make a fair judgment based on the facts as we know them. Judging information provided by a two and four-year-old isn’t always perfect, but we do our best.

The NFL and parenting both have important outcomes. Millions of people watch football every week and it’s a multi-billion dollar industry. Parents try to raise their children to become productive members of society. Hopefully the NFL will get their labor dispute resolved, so the experienced refs can get back to work. And with any luck, as time goes on, Chase and I will feel less like replacement refs and more like the pros.

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“Do good”

My brother was a much better athlete than me, and he still plays ice hockey at age 30. My dad went to every game, and before he stepped out on the ice he would say to him, “Do good!”

Here’s my little boy who isn’t so sure about soccer, but his dad is there to watch.

“Do good, Clay.”

Chase and Clay

Ready to play?

I am the first to confess, I was never a star athlete. I played sports because that’s what teenage girls growing up in the suburbs do. In high school, I ran cross country and track, played soccer and did gymnastics. Cross country practice was my favorite because we’d run to new home models nearby and hang out in the air conditioning, eat their cookies and drink free sodas. My friends all played soccer, so I did it too, mostly to socialize. As for gymnastics, I’m 5′ 7.” Not really surprising that I wasn’t a state champ in any of these sports!

Chase, on the other hand, was a collegiate athlete. He played baseball his whole life and worked in Major League Baseball for 10 years after college. To say he likes sports or is competitive, would be an understatement.

We’re on week three of soccer for Clay, and Chase is a bit perplexed by his lack of aggressiveness. Clay likes the social aspect of soccer and is not slow or out-of-shape, but going after the ball is not natural to him. He’s been told his entire life to not take things from people or to run into them, now we’re telling him this is okay. He’s cautious and a thinker.

I’m not sure why it just hit me today: Clay is me! I remember my first soccer season. I was scared to kick the ball, worried it would go in the wrong direction or into the other goal. I ran with my arms close to my sides so I wouldn’t accidentally touch the ball with my hands. It was chilly and rainy for every game, and we had green uniforms (not a nice green, but a gross grass-green). I finished out the season because my parents made me, but I didn’t play again for five years. And even then, it was just to hang out with my friends.

I got a babycenter.com e-newsletter yesterday, with an article saying kids should wait until they are five or six to play team sports. I wish they’d sent that in the spring, rather than now, when we’re already committed! I’m not sure it would have mattered since Clay wanted to play, but after reading it and seeing Clay’s experience, I think we’ll hold off on organized sports for Avery until she’s in kindergarten.

Clay is getting better at soccer each week. Maybe by the end of the season he’ll even score a goal and be excited for something other than the snacks. If not, he’ll go back to hitting baseballs and golf balls with his dad for a few years. Soccer is good exercise and learning team work is great, but it’s nice to just have fun without the pressure or commitment of a team. When he’s ready to play again, he will.

If soccer isn’t his thing, that’s okay too. We all know Chase would be thrilled to have a ball player, and I’d be happy to tour the world’s best resorts with my PGA golfer son.

And so it begins…

Last night was Clay’s last swim lesson, and I have good news to report: he can swim! Across the pool, face in the water and everything! I was worried he’d never do it, and here we are getting ready for Labor Day weekend and I no longer have to worry about him drowning. Hooray!

While I’m happy that the lessons worked, my new panic has to do with managing the kids’ extracurricular activities. Until now, with the exception of swimming, I’ve been able to avoid organized classes for kids. I know they learn a lot and some parents even enjoy the classes and that’s great, but it’s just not for me. Mommy and Me or ballet for toddlers seem like a waste of time and money. My kids and I can play together without paying someone to sing us silly songs, and Avery can dance around the house to “girl songs” on the iPad. The best part = we can do it on our own time and it costs nothing.

We’ve reached a new milestone though. Clay is in preschool and decided he wanted to play soccer. He had the first practice this week, and Chase took him. It started at 5:00 p.m., so that in itself was a bit of a challenge (apparently volunteer coaches don’t have day jobs). We’re still getting used to the new preschool routine, so after picking him up and getting him changed into soccer gear, they were late. We hate being late. Chase was stressed and I can understand why.

The thing that scares me is the coordination it requires to get two kids from school to just one activity. Everyone thinks babies and toddlers are hard, but organizing activities for bigger kids is a whole new ball game (no pun intended). What happens when both kids have multiple practices per week and we have to fit that in with our jobs, homework and trying to have some time for our family to relax? And that’s assuming they only play one sport per season (which will be our limit). How do parents with more kids pull it off?