What a veteran mom learned about Childhood Cancer this month

soccer net

September is Childhood Cancer Awareness month.

If you search my blog from 2007 to the present, there isn’t a blog sometime in September that doesn’t start with that sentence.  It’s usually followed by a lot of facts or figures or rants about how underfunded childhood cancer research is.

Not this year.  This year I’d like to share what my daughter taught me about childhood cancer.

In late June my daughter came to me and explained she wanted to try out for the school soccer team.  I’m not sure who reading this has ever watched soccer but despite its classification of being a non-contact sport it’s a very contact-oriented sport.  It’s not like she came to me and asked to run on the track team or swim on the swim team.  Not to diminish track or swimming in any way, they are both strenuous sports.  But neither track nor swimming involves a 5’7” 135-pound girl running full speed at you attempting to take a ball away without using her hands.

Thinking she would be discouraged I told her she needed to find out more about practices and try-outs.  Less than an hour later she told me they practice every night from 5:30-7:00 and try outs are on July 31.  This was a Friday, she told me she planned on starting the following Monday.

I sat at my desk trying madly to come up with excuses not to let her play.  She had played up until she was 12 and quit when the girls started getting a little more aggressive and a lot bigger than her.  I stopped short of just saying NO and I tried to gently point out the challenges she would have to overcome.  I should mention at this point that she’s had 2 brain surgeries and multiple surgeries on her left arm, hand, leg and foot to correct some of long-term effects from the brain surgeries.  What long-term effects?  Oh… yeah, she’s hemiplegic on her left side.  And she has NO peripheral vision on her left side either.

I gently reminded her that she would need to run, and she hadn’t been working out regularly – so she should consider that.  In my mind I was recalling my son playing soccer in high school where he ran a minimum of a mile daily all summer long including when we were on vacation.  She put on some running shoes and came back, fairly quickly and dejected.  She had tried to run around our neighborhood which is exactly 1 mile around the outer roads and she said she couldn’t.  I told her she could cry for 20 minutes and she needed to pick herself up and move on.  Secretly, I was kind of hoping that she would see this obstacle as too much to overcome.

She did exactly what I told her to do.  She cried for about 20 minutes, came out of her room with shin guards and cleats and told me to get in the car because practice started in 30 minutes.  Sigh….. OK I’ll take her to practice.  We arrived and only a handful of girls were there, a few more arrived a little later.  The coach, Sarah (who is amazing – by the way), showed up and started running drills.  I watched, anticipating that at some point she would realize she was in over her head, but she kept pushing on drill after drill.  And not to diminish her success, but I was expecting soccer like I had experienced with my son – cut throat competitive “take-no-prisoners” travel soccer which spilled into the suburban high school level as well.  This was a group of high school girls who thought it would be fun to play soccer – which in all honesty is what school sports should be.  On senior night, every one of the girls was going to college with a scholarship for music or art or their 4.6 grade point average – none of them mentioned continuing their soccer career.

She was super excited after practice, talking non-stop and when I asked if she wanted to go back tomorrow she said “YES!”  So, we practiced, night after night up to the day of tryouts.  Sarah had talked to her about her limitations and they came to an understanding about what she was and wasn’t capable of doing.  Their school is a small urban college prep academy with a focus on fine arts and music – so they only have a Varsity Girls soccer team.  But the coach is a heads-up kind of lady who realized that she could have the underclassmen play on a “B” team and the upperclassmen play on the “A” team and the “B” players could gain experience as necessary.  Teagan, with all her hard work and challenges, made the Varsity “B” team playing defensive back.

I was proud, but still very nervous and skeptical.  Sure, the girls on her team weren’t “do or die” soccer players but what about the teams they would play against? I have nail bitten my way through several games while she plays about 10-20 minutes as a relief for her “A” team counterpart.  And she’s good, she knows where to play on the field, she doesn’t back down from a challenge – she has proved me wrong.  For all I know that has been her motivation the whole time.  And she loves it and she’s having a great time being part of the team.

My “learning moment” however didn’t really come until August 31st.  I received a group email from her coach stating that she had been nominated by a teammate to be the “Man of the Match.”  She didn’t win because she scored a goal or blocked a goal or for that matter even set foot on the field.  One of the upperclassmen’s locker had jammed and she couldn’t get to her jersey, shin guards or cleats.  She gave the upperclassmen her uniform, shin guards and cleats so that she could play.  Her coach pointed out in the email that she always gives 100%, never misses games or practices and was “a stellar example of a perfect player.”

I cried a bit that morning. There were happy tears because I was proud of her for her accomplishment.  But there were guilty tears too.  I was ashamed that I had assumed she wasn’t capable of achieving this goal because of her disability.  In all fairness I was mostly concerned for her safety because she trips over air on a good day and you can literally be standing next to her on her left side and she can’t see you.  Neither of which lend to success in a sport like soccer.  But she was determined, and she showed me and a lot of people she’s got a lot of resolve packed into a very small package.

I guess I didn’t learn anything “new.”  Mostly, I forgot that she is more than just her brain tumor.  She is not defined by the tumor she had when she was five and all the damage it left behind.  She is in control of who she is and who she’s going to be. She is writing her story and the tumor was a chapter but it’s not the whole book.

I won’t forget that anymore, I promise.


PS.. really not loving the “soccer mom” title again, jus’ sayin’



Dear Mrs. Beauregarde


Dear Mrs. Beauregarde,

I don’t know you’re real name but I give nicknames to people who I “people watch” and you earned the nickname Mrs. Beauregarde.  Mrs. Beauregarde is the all-or-nothing; “keep your eye on the prize” mother of Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie.  The new Charlie and The Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp not the Willy Wonka movie with Gene Hackman, I have to clarify because my husband likes the original and my daughter likes the new one.  I was a geek and read the actual book.

Mrs. Beauregard, you caught my attention at what is hopefully my very last ever soccer tournament.  You weren’t a parent on my field you were on a field behind me, and technically two fields away but I could hear you.  What caught my attention, and several other people’s attention, was your screaming at the top of your lungs “Get Open! Get Open! Don’t let her push you like that!  Push Back! OH MY GAWD, follow your shot… FOLLOW YOUR SHOT!” When I turned around I expected to see a USWNT World Cup qualifying match.  But what I saw was little girls – like I would have said they were eight year old little girls, but my son informed me that the tournament was U11 and up.  So ten-year old little girls, I was off a bit.  For fun, and because it was halftime, I actually turned my chair around and started watching you.

You were sitting near the 15 yard line (yes there are yard lines in soccer – they aren’t marked but they are there) and every time your child’s team got near the goal you were out of your seat yelling.  You would scream all sorts of directions to poor little Violet, telling her to use her left foot, dribble more, dribble less, and for God’s sake FOLLOW YOUR SHOT!  Um…. She’s ten.  If she can use her left foot to shoot she’s probably already got coaches lining up to sign her because even my left-handed 18-year-old son struggles with shooting left footed.  And the whole follow your shot thing, it’s a great idea, but again she’s ten and is probably tired and knows she now has to run back to play defense.

In all fairness, Mrs. Beauregarde, it’s all about perspective.  You are at the beginning of your child’s soccer “career” and this is quite possibly even your first season.  I am at the end, or at least the end of travel soccer and I have a lot of experiences to reflect back on.  I’m not going to lie and say I’ve never yelled at a soccer game because I have, but usually I’m yelling things like “Watch your mouth! Was that yellow card really worth it? Retaliation always gets the foul.” and again “Watch your mouth!”  And truth be told I don’t usually yell, I wait until he’s near me on the field so I can say it at a reasonable volume.  Mostly because I know that screaming at the very top of my lungs means that everyone within three fields of me is turning around to see who that parent is.

I hope your daughter loves playing soccer.  I hope she loves it enough to want to keep doing it in spite of the fact that she has that parent on the sideline yelling and screaming at her every time she has the ball.  I’ve seen that nearly ruin a soccer player.  I mean how embarrassing must it be for a child to have to tell their parent to stop yelling during a game?  I’ve seen that happen.  Of course there’s the chance that your daughter is learning from you and acts just like you.  And eventually will start yelling at her teammates in the same condescending manner you yell at her.  That doesn’t end well either – in case you’re wondering – and yes I’ve seen that happen too.

Currently you are on a crash course to being the parent everyone avoids at the games.  And unfortunately for your daughter the parent that the coaches avoid at all costs.  Like fake-a-seizure-so-I-don’t-have-to-talk-to-that-parent kind of avoidance.  The kids pick up on it too and will probably start teasing her.  Yes, I’ve seen that happen too – it’s not pretty.  Again, I hope she loves soccer so much that all of these things won’t matter to her because if she doesn’t in a few years she will hate soccer.

I don’t know what your motivation is for acting that way.  There are all the cliché reasons like you didn’t get to play soccer, got cut from a team, never realized your full potential, or you were great a soccer player back in the day and want your kids to be like you.  Maybe it’s because soccer is expensive and you expect more for your money (PS if this is your reason you should quit now).  Or you just expect perfection from everyone, or hell, maybe you just like to scream at the top of your lungs.  It doesn’t really matter why you do it, you just need to stop.  For your daughter’s sake, or if nothing else so you don’t have to pay for therapy when she’s 16.

In closing, Mrs. Beauregarde, please know that it’s just one game.  You will have hundreds more in your future and Violet will make mistakes and she will make awesome plays too.  There will terrible calls from the officials that can’t be reversed.  There will be wins and losses.  There will be good coaches and bad coaches and sometimes she may not get to play the position she wants to play.  If you can’t accept all of this you need to quit now because it’s going to get a lot harder as she gets older.

Remember, “Keep your eye on the prize!”  Just realize the prize isn’t always winning.

Dear New Soccer Mom

soccer net

Dear New Soccer Mom,


In all fairness you’re probably not a “new” soccer mom but you are either new to club soccer or new to high school age club soccer.  I crossed paths with you on Saturday but I’m sure you didn’t notice me.  Actually you may have noticed me because I saw you glance my way before asking another mom where she got her “super cute” stadium blanket with her team’s logo.  I’m guessing the reason you were asking about the blanket it because you were absolutely freezing.


I figure you are “new” because you truly didn’t dress appropriately for spending 90 minutes in 30 degree weather with 15-20 mile per hour winds.  Oh don’t get me wrong, your outfit was totes adorbs!!  The stylish flared grey plaid pea coat and trendy black leggings with the Tommy Hilfiger riding boots was quite an outfit.  And the knitted headband with the bow and Michael Kors bag just tied the look together.  But I noticed you were missing gloves.  I’m not really a fashionista so I’m not sure if gloves would have been appropriate with the outfit.


What I do know, is that you were freezing.  You had to be.  Because I was cold – very cold.  And I had on jeans, a tee-shirt, a sweatshirt, a coat that is made for skiing and I was wrapped in a sleeping bag that guarantees it keeps you warm even when the weather is 30 degrees.  Oh yes, and I had on gloves.  Gloves that are also supposed to keep you warm when the temperature is below freezing, although I’m seriously questioning their claim after this past weekend. I also had my Under Armor ear warmer, also made for skiing.  I did forget my boots, not chic mid-calf boots or Uggs but actual winter snow boots.  Which was awful because my feet froze.  That was my fault for not just wearing them but they are a little clunky and hard to drive with so my plan was to change when I got to the soccer field but I left them sitting on the table at home.  I still make mistakes.


I will give you props because I watched – you were on the field south of me – and you lasted until half-time before disappearing, I’m guessing to the car with the heater going full blast.  You need to know you have reached a new level of soccer and weather that isn’t always favorable to being fashionable.  Soccer that starts as early as the last weekend in February and can last until nearly Thanksgiving.  Given that we live in the Midwest the best I can tell you is to plan for any and all kinds of weather because unless there is lightning you will be playing. 


I have survived the last five years by understanding that you should always plan for it to be cold – even in the summer.  There are levels of cold too.  There is sunny and cold which is the best you can hope for in February, March, October and November.  Then there is cold and rainy, cold and sleeting, cold and snowing, and cold with a wind chill making it feel like 25 degrees.  For spring and early fall there is also the consideration that there will be rain – think monsoon.  Rain is hard to plan attire for though, other than an umbrella but an umbrella is no help when it’s raining sideways.  I’ve seen parents in motorcycle rain gear on the sideline though and considered purchasing some.


Also the stadium blanket you were asking about – skip it.  I mean you can buy one if you need to show support for your club or whatever, but if you are interested in actually keeping warm you need to purchase a cold weather sleeping bag.  Why a sleeping bag?  Because you can sit in it and are protected from all sides.  I have tried all different types of blankets and trust me, you want a sleeping bag.  Mine is an old one that we’ve had since we got married, but if I had a few more soccer years to go I’d buy a new one that is rated for weather 24 degrees and below.


I’m just offering advice.  Like I said your outfit was swanky.  It would have been nice if you were going shopping or to a brunch date.  If I could pull off an outfit like that I would, but I’m not a very girly girl.  If you take nothing else away from this, please buy a ski coat and gloves!  I know mine is basic black and no frills, but trust me there are stylish ski coats out there.  I used to have a few that were more colorful.  And I know you won’t, but buy it one size too big.  This way you can layer a bulky sweater or sweatshirt underneath it and still be comfortable.  You’ll appreciate it when it’s sleeting.   Yes your child will play when it’s sleeting.   


If it helps, on Sunday I overheard another group of mom’s who also shared your sense of style.  It was warmer Sunday so the leggings/riding boots brigade was out in full force. One mom who had a big and bulky coat was telling all her co-soccer moms she went shopping during the break between games and she had to explain to the clerk at Charlotte Russe she was only wearing it because of soccer and they had a laugh.  See it’s easy to explain why some weekends you look like you’re wearing enough cold weather gear to climb Mt. Everest.  There is a Pinterest page dedicated to Soccer Mom Fashion – see below.  Sigh – Sometimes I really wish I was making these things up.


Remember you can always show off your chic suburban mom look in May or August – when you have 50/50 shot of it being 72 and sunny or 90 with a heat index of next to the sun.

soccer mom style 2


The Big Fish Story


The big fish story.

You know the one that somehow turns a guppy into a shark by the time the fisherman have made it back to shore?  My son mastered the big fish story over the weekend.  The fish kept growing bigger and bigger as more and more details emerged.  The problem with this fish story is the guppy actually turned into a shark.  No actual fish were caught or harmed in this story – at least I don’t think so – I really hope there weren’t any fish.

It all starts at an out-of-town soccer tournament.  I’m going to skip over the rant regarding playing a soccer tournament when it’s 37 degrees outside as I dutifully posted my discontent repeatedly on Facebook all weekend.  As a team building activity the manager thought it would be a good idea for the team and parents to have dinner at a nice Italian restaurant.

The restaurant staff was wonderful –placing the boys at one table and the parents at a second table. Oh I almost forgot, during the 2nd game the goalie who rode with us to the tournament, got kicked in the head and needed stitches – that becomes important here in a bit. But he got released from the hospital and made it to dinner.  The tables were covered in white butcher paper and the waitress even brought the boys (age 15-17) crayons.  The crayons were a big hit.  I’m afraid of what may or may not have been drawn.  Dinner was wrapping up and we were waiting for the bills the boys asked “Can we go to Target across the parking lot?”  Sure… why not?  It’s a Target.  It’s not like the mall we were at last year at an out-of-town tournament where we found them picking up college girls in the food court.

The parents stayed and were chatting and finishing wine and having a grand time – until one parent noticed we’d been there waiting for bills for about 30 minutes.  An apologetic server came out and said they were trying to match up the boys with the parents but it was complicated.  Twenty minutes after that the manager came out and announced dinner was on him because they had no idea how to figure out the bills.  GREAT!  Hmmmm…. It’s been almost an hour, what could the boy’s be doing at Target.  The answer to this question is where the fish story starts.

I rode to the tournament with the team mom and as she and I pulled up to the Target in her minivan followed by the other parents we see a gaggle of girls in micro mini-skirts and heels surrounding about half of the boys.

“Oh my God, they picked up girls at the Target?!?!” It was half an exclamation (or exasperation) and half a question.  That was the team mom speaking.  I was just staring in awe shaking my head at the fact that they had managed to find a gaggle of teenage girls walking around a Target.  Most of the boys saw their parents vehicles pull up and went directly to the car at a rapid pace with their heads down.  Mine and the team mom’s son decide to stay and take group selfies with the girls.  So we roll up next to them in the soccer mom minivan and yell at them to get in the car.  They comply and as they are entering the car state that they “got kicked out of Target.”  Wait, we’re missing one.  The goalie is MIA.  About the time we ask where the goalie was he rides by the front doors (on the inside of the store) on a bicycle.  Between me and the other mom yelling things like “HOW THE HELL DID YOU GET KICKED OUT OF TARGET” and “SOMEBODY GO GET HIM OFF THAT BIKE – HE HAS A HEAD INJURY!” the van was a bit chaotic.

In the chaos the team mom’s son managed to escape the van and head back over to where the girls were.  The few remaining team members exited the Target and finally the goalie appeared, without the bike thankfully.  The girl gaggle called him over saying “We need a picture!”  I exited the van at this point and with all the calm caring demeanor I’m so well-known for (insert snicker) yelled “GET AWAY FROM THE GIRLS AND GET IN THE *#(&$!@ VAN!”

Once corralled in the van the questions and answers started overlapping a bit.  “How did you get kicked out of Target?” and “We sooo weren’t doing anything wrong.”  “Where did the girls come from?” and “Why were they so dressed up?”  “They were at a birthday party.”  “Someone was pushing Dane around in a cart.”  My son volunteered that “the whole team didn’t get kicked out of Target just me and Carson.” “Oh good they only kicked out the Ring Leaders.”  Luckily it was a short ride back to the hotel.

Back at the hotel discussing the incident further the story starts to build.  Why? We pass an opposing teams’ player in the hallway who nods and smiles knowingly at my son.  Opposing team players only nod at each other if they have engaged in some type of mutually beneficial mischief.  “That was Brice,” my son explained giggling – he’s 16 and he was giggling.  “Well we really don’t know his real name but we were calling him Brice and yelling at him across the store.”  The explanation I was then given regarding them being  dis-invited to shop at Target was that a lady told the manager she feared for her and her child’s safety because they were pushing a team member around in a cart and they almost ran into her.  But (there’s always a but) they really weren’t anywhere near her and she was just exaggerating.

Then his phone went off and he started giggling.  What?  So he shows me a picture of him and Carson getting escorted by Target security out of the door.  Awesome. The girly gaggle had apparently documented the incident on SnapChat or Instragram or #Selfie.com or whatever super cool social media app that teenagers think their parents don’t know about.  The team mom and I hung out for a bit while the boys played Xbox and then everyone headed to their rooms.  As I was going to bed he received a video of several team members in a Minecraft foam sword battle in the toy aisle.  Great, just great.

When we came down from breakfast several of the team parents jokingly (I think it was jokingly, maybe) called out to my son, “Oh there’s the trouble maker!”  Great…. and good morning to all of you, can I have coffee before we start this session of the Peoples Court?  Several of the boys had obviously spilled their guts to the parents about EVERYTHING.  Now there were several pictures and videos being tossed around the All-You-Can-Eat Continental breakfast bar in the hotel.  Every picture shown has my son and the team mom’s son – in the middle.  When I told him to be a strong leader this is not what I envisioned.

In addition to the Minecraft foam sword battle – in which competitors wore Ninja Turtle and Captain America Masks while battling (safety first ya know) – there was also a jousting competition.  Yes I said jousting competition. The jousting consisted of 4 players and 2 shopping carts, one player pushing (at a run) the cart heading for the other 2 team shopping cart with the players inside holding a jousting stick.  I’m not sure if they were using the Minecraft swords or if they upgraded to some of the Ninja Turtle Combat Gear.  I’m sure the lady who was in “fear for her safety” somehow walked into the jousting competition since they were in one of the main aisles of the store.  I’m still not sure how, where or why the goalie got on a bicycle.

The last picture I saw was my son wearing a pink tulle tutu.  Awesome.  So we went from “all we did was push Dane around the store in a cart” to a jousting competition with Ninja Turtle Combat gear and pink tutu’s complete with a full on Minecraft Sword battle in a separate aisle and the goalie completing the Tour de France on a powder blue Huffy. The more details that emerged the more I wished the guppy wasn’t turning into a shark.  I finally asked the question, “Why were you and Carson the only ones who got kicked out?”

“Uh… because when the store manager started walking towards us, me and Carson were the only ones who didn’t run.”

Ah .. honor among mischief makers.

My next parenting talk will go something along the lines of “Be a positive role model and leader – not the ring leader!”

PS: to the lady in the Target in Evansville who “feared for her safety.”  Keep it real…. If you want to complain because there are 13 (maybe more I forgot about “Brice” who doesn’t even belong to our team) teenage boys being stupid and annoying in the store, complain because they are being annoying don’t make up some BS line that you’re afraid for you and your child’s safety.  It’s not like they were going to hold you at Nerf gun point and take your kids candy.  I answer 911 calls – I know when people feel the need to embellish because they don’t want to be “that person” who knows that what they are complaining on is BS – but they want to complain anyway so they make it sound way worse than what it is.

PPS:  I really want to be that parent that complains to the makers of the Minecraft swords and Ninja Turtle Combat Gear that there are no warnings on their products stating that they shouldn’t be used in a shopping cart jousting competition.

PPSS:  My daughter will never be allowed to go to any store ever without parental supervision because as the details of this escapade emerged when we got home she told my son that they should have tried throwing milk jugs at each other because they basically explode on impact and spray milk EVERYWHERE!

Why I hate being a “Soccer Mom”

I could almost do a Top 10 of why I hate being a soccer mom….. I think I might have even listed them on Facebook randomly from time to time.

#5 – 37 degrees outside but were still having soccer practice.

#8 – I have to drive 3 hours for 1 damn game — on Mother’s Day?

#4 – I miss $15 kids size soccer cleats from Target.

But seriously, what happened to soccer mom’s over the years?  Remember the Clinton-era soccer moms?  They were a force.  They changed a Presidential election.  They were smart intelligent women who were choosing to stay home with their kids instead of having high power careers.  They were created by political talking heads who wanted to target middle class white mothers who drive SUV’s or minivans and were “overburdened.”  But the stereotype, when it started, was positive.  They were important.  Their opinions were considered to be the “voice of the middle class” in the mid 90’s.

Unfortunately all good things must come to end.  The stereotype now is much less positive.  Soccer Mom’s are still middle class white mothers but that’s where the “nice” description from the 90’s.  Now they are (and yes I’m quoting from urban dictionary):

“A woman who refuses to believe that anything that is not white christian middle-upper class is evil.”

“are often found destroying the sacred environment in their oversized SUV’s driving in an unsafe fashion, often times with cell phones in one hand and a Starbucks coffee in the other.”

“an evil underground network of overprotective 30-40 year olds who drive around in s.u.v’s or mini vans or volvo’s who hate tv, internet and teenagers. this “mafia” of soccer moms knows everything that goes on in your town and gossips about every little thing that other people kids do.”

“They name their children Madison, Britney, Caitlin, Tanner, Bryce, Trevor… they drive an SUV or minivan embossed with soccer ball decals and honor student bumper stickers… their two most prized possessions: their cell phone and their sport water bottle…”

“A time bomb waiting to detonate in a therapist’s office or a grocery check-out line after finding her double off coupon is no longer valid.”

“She is usually blonde (often bleached) and has average to above average looks (the latter usually being also a “trophy wife”).”

“Soccer Mom has no life outside her children and their activities. During the day when the kids are in school, she can be found trolling the localshopping mall and maxing out hubby’s credit card buying stuff she doesn’t need at theBombay Company.”

And my personal favorite……..

“Soccer moms are also a major contributing factor to the gas price hike that America has experienced in recent years”

So let me take these down one by one.

While I identify with Christian values we don’t attend church regularly and I enjoy studying and learning about various other religions – including Muslim and Hindu because many of my son’s friends and fellow soccer players belong to these religions.  Evil to me is Plankton from Spongebob — just kidding and no I’ve never petitioned Nickelodeon to give Spongebob a higher parental information TV rating.

Ok admittedly I’ve got no counter point for the SUV, bad driving, drinking Starbucks and cellphone.  Next…. Oh wait, I don’t destroy the environment and I’m very conscientious about recycling.  HA!

I’ve always wanted to be part of an evil underground network however gossiping about other people’s kids typically doesn’t classify as “evil” or “underground.”  My version of an evil underground network involves something much more dangerous like smuggling doughnuts to starving size 2 models or stalking celebrities or something a little more “Fast & Furious” like.  And PS I know everything that goes on in this town because I’m a 911 operator, trust me you DONT want to know everything!

“Madison, Britney, Caitlin, Tanner, Bryce, Trevor” – nope none of the above (Sorry B).  And just so we’re clear the damn stickers on the back window were placed there by my children because I fought kicking and screaming against my back window looking like a suburbia billboard.  At least I don’t have the stick figure family.  And I have no honor roll stickers……….. not exactly a great parental brag but my kids and the honor roll have never been formally introduced.

I can see myself as a time bomb waiting to go off in a therapy office or the grocery store for not taking my double coupon however I feel that has little to do with me being a parent who has a child enrolled in soccer or not.  (see my references to customer service issues in previous blogs)

I could be blonde but I’m not… and currently the color my daughter picked for me is “chocolate cherry” – she thought I needed to be red for fall.  I like to think I have average to above average looks when I actually have time to fix my hair and do my makeup which isn’t often.  And I’ve often told my husband that I am a trophy wife — he just needed to be more specific about what place (they give trophy’s all the way up to 10th place now!).  Keep in mind “Participant” is also a place.

I have a life…. it involves working hellish 12 hour shifts and sometimes part-time shifts or overtime to pay for soccer — that really is a counterproductive point isn’t it? Does anyone have that “Soccer Mom Madame’s” address in prison?  I really want to sign up for the maxing the hubby’s credit card at the mall life though – do you know where I go for that?  PS what the hell is Bombay Company?  We don’t have one at my mall, or any mall near me. (I Googled it… it’s like high-priced IKEA).

And finally……..

I love this person’s take on the gas price increase.  Totally ….. it’s all because of us holier than thou white suburban driving/crashing Starbucks drinking cellphone talking on blonde time bomb trophy wives with no life but shopping and maxing out credit cards.  It has NOTHING to do with OPEC or government regulations or international politics or anything.  It’s all because we fill up our SUV’s and/or Minivans.

There were also countless references to my overworked executive level high paid husband.  Yeah ……… about that.  My husband works ten 24 hour shifts a month and is paid less than most entry-level positions at Fortune 500 companies.

So this is why I don’t like being stereotyped as a Soccer Mom.  Unfortunately I have a son who is obsessed with playing soccer so I can’t get out of the title.  I just hate that Soccer Mom’s have become basically some kind of over indulgent, entitled, rich, snobby pain in the ass.  And trust me I’ve seen them first hand.  Once my son started travel soccer I was amazed at what I saw.  I’ve seen a lady (ok not so much lady – but female) get kicked out of her kids match and could still hear her yelling and screaming 3 fields over as her husband was walking (insert dragging) her to the car.  I’ve seen a teenage kid start towards a oposing teams parent to start a fight and the mother encourage him the whole time.  I’ve seen an opposing player address all of the parents from our team in a derogatory manner and then flip us all off with his parents laughing and encouraging him to keep going.  Sometimes I get confused between whether I’m at a soccer game or a secret taping of Jerry Springer.

I know there is no hope of not being classifed as a Soccer Mom due to the basic principal that A) I am a mom and B) one child plays soccer.  However I reject be stereotyped as some of the examples above.

Except for the Starbucks (it IS pumpkin spice season after all) and the SUV (even though it’s broke — again) and the cell phone (my Iphone is like a 3rd child).  And maybe I’ll go blonde………who knows?



Thursday Night Novella

Of all the voices in my head I like the one that turns my everyday occurrences into brilliant novels.

I used to think everyone had a running novel in their head, but it turns out I was wrong.  And I don’t do it all the time, just when I’m alone.  I was recently alone for two whole hours in an interesting setting which led my inner voice to start the novel dialog.  I’m not sure why I do it.  It just starts and I can’t stop it.  Then I catch myself and stop – usually.  But a few nights ago I didn’t.  So this is how the Thursday Night Novella would read….

She carefully parallel parks her aging Chevy Trailblazer between a Honda Civic and a Toyota Prius, her giant suburban icon dwarfing the two cars on either side.  It looks ridiculously out-of-place as she assumes she does in her blue jeans, sweatshirt and tennis shoes.  Women rush by her wearing fabulous skirts with tall boots and impeccably matched scarves.  Although she spends nearly every Thursday evening downtown waiting for her daughters acting class to end she always feels like she stands out to the people who live in the city.  Everything about her screams suburban soccer mom.  She blushes slightly as she glimpses her rear window, the green and white crested sticker proclaiming she is part of the elite soccer mom cult and confirming the first impression she is making to the hipster couple walking their recused mess of a mutt.  She resists the urge to point out her side window, the one that boasts the decal with a hot pink skull wearing a fire helmet that in her mind makes her cooler than your average soccer mom.  She’s not just a soccer mom she’s a firefighter’s wife soccer mom.  She laughs to herself because she is being ridiculous as she pays the parking meter.

Slinging her Old Navy bag over her shoulder she decides to walk the half a block to the Starbucks before going inside the theater to spend quality time with her Nook.  There is an event going on nearby as the normally sparse parking lots are filling up with cars as men wearing oversize coats and reflecting parking vests are waving them in.  Other suburbanites are looming around too – suburbanites just stand out in the city they can’t help it.  She checks her phone to see what is going on.  The Sing Off is having a performance nearby.  The Sing Off sounds like a reality TV show which would explain the influx of other blue jean, sweat shirt wearers.  She sighs as she remembers a time she dreamed of being one of the sophisticated women with a high-priced stylish haircut and urbane attire living a city lifestyle.  Like Meg Ryan’s character in You’ve Got Mail or her best friend from 7th grade who is living her imagined life in San Francisco.  She giggles at the thought as she orders her coffee, after all this is Indianapolis and it’s not like living downtown Indy can compare to Sex in the City and she loves that someone she knows is living the city life.

Obeying the pedestrian signals on her way back to the theater is one more tell-tale sign she doesn’t reside close by.  People who actually live in the city cross streets haphazardly and at any given time and they don’t restrict themselves to cross walks.  She likes the city though.  The unique gift shops, bakeries and tiny restaurants intrigue her.  As she sips her coffee she silently wishes that there was a mom and pop coffee shop on this block instead of Starbucks.  At her last cross walk she stops and looks around and hopes maybe someday her daughter might live the life she dreamed of but wasn’t daring enough to try.  This thought also makes her chuckle as she tries to imagine her 11-year-old daughter ten years from now dressed like Mary Tyler Moore tossing her hat up in the air.  Instinctively the theme song starts playing in her head, “you’re gonna make it after all!”

Still humming the theme song she enters the “newer” part of the Athenaeum building – newer meaning 115 years old as opposed to the other portion which was built in 1893.  The historical building that her daughter’s quirky acting company resides in makes waiting for rehearsal to end much more interesting.  The building is a living history museum with the brick, limestone and gabled exterior giving way to a grand lobby with high ceilings and dark wood accents.  It was built by Kurt Vonnegut Jr.’s grandfather in the middle of the German-American community and the building and the foundation that manages it holds true to its German roots.  She knows this and many other facts as she has read nearly all of the historical placards placed throughout the building.  She claims an overstuffed chair in the corner and carefully sets her coffee on a chunky dark wood table decorated with a vase of silk flowers.  She frowns as her coffee sits in the middle of a water ring stain from someone who wasn’t as careful as she is.

Attempting to concentrate on her novel becomes more complicated as the evening wears on.  She reasoned she must look trustworthy to the overly cheerful college student who asks no less than 20 questions about the youth acting groups and which ones were rehearsing tonight.  As it turns out one of the teen-age groups was having a dress rehearsal and that’s what she was looking for.  She is within earshot of the desk where the security guard sits and is quickly distracted by his louder than a whisper sing-a-long to his Ipod, his presence must be more for looks than safety.  Oddly there is a steady stream of people asking him for assistance and directions and he cheerfully, between Bruno Mars outbursts, answers their questions.

She hears cadences and cheering and knows that signals the end of rehearsal.  She tosses her coffee cup in the trash bin and collects her things as her daughter emerges among friends reciting lines they learned.  She smiles to herself because she likes seeing her daughter happy.  As they are driving home she conjures up her earlier Mary Tyler Moore image of her future daughter and wonders what thoughts and dreams swim in her daughters head.  People tell her how much alike they are so maybe it’s not as far-fetched as she thinks.  Suddenly in front of her she notices the brilliant pink-orange sunset fading into an inky blue sky.  As she is admiring its beauty and wishing she could stop on the interstate to snap a photo there is a click and a flash from the back seat.  The flash startles her as she thinks its headlights and that in her dreamy mood she’s somehow drifted into another lane.  She recognizes quickly that her daughter was using her camera phone.

She is harsh with her reprimand about not distracting her while she’s driving.  Her daughters smile turns to that hurt pouty look that only a pre-teen can use to make a parent feel guilty.  She sighs heavily and asks what was so important she needed to take a picture at that moment, silently cursing the “selfie” generation.  The answer melts her heart.  She was trying to take a picture of the sunset because the pink-orange sky was so beautiful.  Choking back tears or giddy laughter or both she finds the answer to the question she was wondering all evening. Yes, there is someone else out there who is exactly like her.  Someone who is usually more creative and much funnier than her, someone who bears more than just a striking resemblance to her.  The younger, better version of herself sitting behind her in the car is her answer.  Flash back to Mary Tyler Moore tossing that hat in the air, “you’re gonna make it after all.”


My Son Will Make A Great Soccer Mom One Day…..

I have a 14-year-old son who can outshine any Soccer Mom in the Midwest.

He has taken it upon himself to become his younger sisters un-official Soccer Mom.  I think that I spent all my elite soccer mom skills earlier on in his career and now I have little left over for poor Teagan.  Not to worry though, she is well taken care of.  Take tonight for example.  It was 530 and Teagan had practice at 6 and I had not yet gotten out a soccer ball, shin guard or clete.  Dawson, with a certain level of disgust in his voice mentioned that it was time to leave and we weren’t ready yet.  He gets that from his Dad.  Keep in mind it takes exactly….EXACTLY…. five minutes to get to the soccer field.

Before I knew what hit me, Dawson had her clete (only one as the other foot is in a cast – yeah I’m pretty sure she’s not supposed to even be going to soccer practice with a cast on her foot), shin guard and soccer ball out and was helping her get into the shin guard and clete.  He also then shuffled her to the car and got her a water bottle and filled it with water.  If he was 16 and could drive I’m certain I would have watched the car pull out of the garage and he would have just left useless old me sitting at home.  Sadly as I got to the car with her soccer player card in hand – my one thing I had to remember to take to practice – I realized that I had my book, her card, my purse and no keys.  As I exited the car to go back into the house to get the keys I heard a very loud exasperation of “OH MY GOD!!”

All this to get his little sister to practice.  Not to his practice, which was cancelled due to poor field conditions….. because it’s March…. and we’re in Indiana….and it’s only 39 degrees outside.  But to get his sister to her practice – which ironically wasn’t cancelled due to poor field conditions… because it’s March….and we’re in Indiana…. and it’s only 39 degrees outside.  And then he sits and watches her like a mother hen.  And he gets upset if she doesn’t run as fast as the other girls (I have to remind him she is in a cast) or if she misses a pass. When practice is over he helps her collect all her things, listens to any information the coach has to give and shuttles her back to the car.  It’s like I don’t even exist.  I wonder if he does this on the nights I work when it’s him and his dad taking her to soccer?

I guess maybe I should feel less useless and more proud that he has obtained these skills from my earlier model soccer mom days.  Back in the days when matching snacks with juice boxes was more important than the actual game.  I am proud that he is fairly responsible for a 14-year-old boy.   He has for the past 2 1/2 years been responsible at least one day a week for getting him and his sister ready and dropping her off at the neighbor’s house before he goes to the school bus.  I guess maybe that’s why he’s taken on the role of her Soccer Mom.  Oh well…….. I shouldn’t complain it takes off the pressure off of me!

I see him one day dragging his poor child to the soccer field with a cooler full of Gatorade, fruit and cookies.  And he will get there 25 minutes before any of the other parents even leave the house.  He will have his child with perfectly matched shoes and socks and shorts.  He will be the parent rolling the ball to the kid as the other less exuberant parents show up.  And this will happen when my poor grandchild is only 3 years old more interested in the dandelions in the field than the soccer ball.  Oh yeah….. about the age Dawson started playing soccer.  Actually the EXACT age Dawson started playing soccer.  HMMMMM………….