Lucky Radio Happenstance

“Oh! It’s USA vs. Portugal!” he exclaimed, looking up at the dashboard and putting away the game he was playing on his phone. From the driver’s seat, I gave an internal sigh and retracted my hand from the search button on the radio.

If only I’d found something interesting before we got here. I could have stayed on the Mexican station. That music is kind of fun… even if I can’t understand the commercials. Was the country station really all that bad? Now I’m stuck listening to a soccer game? Groan.

As if reading my mind, he laughed and said, “Do you know what the only sport is more boring to listen to on the radio than baseball?”

“Soccer?” I asked.

“No! It’s golf!” And he dissolved into laughter. “Seriously. It is. Oh, hey!” He turned his attention back to the radio. “We’re tied! That’s awesome!”

I settled myself with the prospect of listening to a British guy and an Irish guy talk about players whose names I didn’t know running up and down the field and absolutely no goals scored. I’m not a soccer football fan. I don’t dislike the sport – in fact, I enjoy watching it. I’m just not a fan. Then again, I’m not really a fan of any sport… except hockey.

Anyway, I was contemplating the possibilities of glazing over mentally and whether that would impact our safety since I was the driver, when the British and Irish guys started getting excited. I didn’t know who had the ball but obviously someone stood a chance of scoring. I didn’t expect it to actually happen but the excitement crescendo-ed and I realized that… someone… had just scored.

And a split second later, I figured out it was us.

My husband and I thrust our arms in the air and yelled, “GOAL!”

Suddenly, I was feeling the World Cup fever. I was excited. Our pastor, a major sports buff, had used the World Cup as the starting point for his sermon that morning. He had jokingly indicated that our chances of advancing were extremely slim.

I turned to my husband and said, “I guess our chances of advancing are a bit better than somewhere between 1 in a million and 1 in a hundred?” (This a reference to the sermon).

He smiled and we settled in to listen to the last 9 minutes of the game. The guys (I enjoyed listening to the Irish guy in particular) kept remarking on how Portugal looked like they had already given up. How great the American team looked. How it was already over and USA was locked into at least second place and thus advancing.

It was exciting. I remarked on the good fortune to turn to the game right before an exciting conclusion, instead of having to listen to nothing happening.

The ref then added 5 minutes to the clock as soccer refs are prone to do, estimating the stoppage of play throughout the game. I sighed but trusted my British and Irish eyes and ears. This game was all but over.

As an Oklahoma State Cowboys fan, I wasn’t relaxing, mind you. I have plenty of experience with teams losing it at the end. Still. There was maybe a minute left. I could hear the crowd chanting “U-S-A! U-S-A! U-S-A!”

And then those dang guys started to get excited again. And with a disbelieving tone. And then. And then.

And then.

Portugal scored a goal in the final seconds. That might happen a lot in basketball. And maybe even in American football. But soccer?

We both sat there stunned. We had lost.

Fifteen minutes ago, I hadn’t even known that the game was going on. Was no more than mildly interested in the outcome. And now I felt like someone had just stolen my ice cream cone.

We listened to commentary for a few more minutes and then I resumed my search for music.

“Well that sucked,” he said.

“Mmm-hmmm,” I replied, feeling down.

And, yeah, the loss kind of sucked. But it feels kind of special that we caught it. And got to be a part of it. I guess it was better than catching a good song. They play those on the radio all the time.

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Playing the Game

We found ourselves in Kansas City for a wedding this past weekend.  My husband had done some homework and found that the Kansas City Royals would be playing the Detroit Tigers that Sunday afternoon.  For reasons that we do not understand, the Tigers is Daryl’s declared favorite team.  We do not understand this because a) we live nowhere near Michigan and b) we never watch baseball.  Our only guess is that they were the opposing team when we went to a Rangers game last year and Daryl likes to be contrary.

I had concerns about getting home sometime after midnight on a school night, but my husband insisted that the “family day” activities would be a great experience and a lot of fun.  And they could sleep in the car.  Right.

Anyway, he was right that it was a lot of fun.  We enjoyed the free face painting and balloon animals, carousel rides and miniature golf.  All the kids got a souvenir and got it signed by Slugger, the mascot.  We shared “nachos in a helmet” – a plastic batting helmet full of nachos.

As we settled in for the start of the game, however, I had a conversation with Jane that made me sad.  We had great seats – up high, but directly behind home plate.  They were announcing the players and people were finding their seats.

Seemingly out of the blue, Jane commented, “I can see why Auntie Grace gets so upset about equality.”

I looked around, wondering if there were some scantily-clad “cheerleaders” somewhere, but I didn’t find any.

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well, all the big sporting events that people go to see.  They are always men.  I mean, there are softball teams but there aren’t big stadiums and professional teams that people go to watch.  And women can’t even play football at all.  It’s really not fair.”

“That’s true,” I said.  And I couldn’t think of anything else to say.

In fact, there’s not much to say that would make her feel better.  Here’s a girl – a very strong and athletic girl, who is just reaching a competitive sporting environment and what does she see ahead of her?  Those boys playing football are not working harder than she is.  They aren’t more competitive than her or more dedicated.  They practice more than her team does, but not because of a lack of dedication on the girls’ parts.  They practice more because we live in Texas and this state is bat-s**t crazy about football.

No, the fact is that this is the society we live in.  People go to watch men’s sports more than women’s sports simply because that’s the way it’s always been.  They grew up rooting for their favorite football or baseball team.  You can start a women’s professional basketball or soccer league and the players can be really good, but people aren’t going to go because… well… they aren’t invested in those teams.

Add to that the persistent perception so many have that women are the “weaker” sex.  And that most sports spectators are men and many of them have this fear that an interest in women’s sports might somehow reduce their manliness.  And then there’s just the general skew of society toward all things male and things aren’t likely to improve too much in her lifetime.

So what can I say?  I can point out men who do support women’s athletics, like my mom’s boyfriend.  I can remind her that in the long run, she’s better off depending on her mind than her prowess on the volleyball court anyway.  I can urge her to stand up for equality when she can.  I can try to teach her the nuances of living in this world female.  I can encourage her to fight for change but not get disheartened when it is slow to come.  I can point out how much better off she is than her great-great grandmother was.  And I can agree, that yes, it really is not fair. Now, honey, let’s enjoy the game anyway.

The Manly Way

Daryl and Hal were discussing the relative merits of putting the cherry in your mouth whole and then spitting out the seed vs. holding it in your hand and gnawing at it until the pit can be dug out.

Hal was of the opinion that gnawing at it was easier. Daryl, being the more sophisticated older brother, disagreed.

“It’s definitely better to take it all in your mouth and then spit it out. It gets easier with practice. Eating sunflower seeds at every baseball game helps.”

“I like to eat sunflower seeds!” Hal said. “I crack them open and put the seed in my mouth and throw the shell on the ground.”

“I do it the manly way,” countered Daryl. “I put them in my mouth, crack them open, and then spit the shells out! We like to spit them at each other.”

“That is disgusting, Daryl.” Jane scrunched up her face at the thought.

“That’s because you’re just a lady and we are men.”

“You don’t have to be sexist.”

“I’m not. It’s true. Ladies get disgusted about everything. They are like ‘ooh’ and ‘ooh’.” He pitched his voice higher and raised his hands up in imitation of a grossed-out woman.

“Now you are being stereotypical.”

Oh, how quickly a conversation devolves. One minute we are all enjoying some fresh fruit. The next, we are busting out the heavy-duty labels. Do you have any idea how hard it is to keep a straight face when your nine year old boy claims to be a “manly man”?

The Colors of the World

Daryl hates to wear sunscreen. With his pale skin, however, wearing it is vitally important. And so it was that I was applying the lotion against his will before his ballgame this morning.

He looked down at his arms before I had a chance to rub it in and yelled in alarm, “I don’t want to be WHITE!”

“You are white, honey.”

“No! Not white white. I’m apricot.”

“Apricot?”

“Well, I’m not white. It’s more apricot. Or peach.”

This reminded me of a little preschool Jane who used to ask why some of the kids were called black.

“I mean, they aren’t black. They are brown. So why do people call them black?”

This view of the colors of the world has apparently stuck with her. One of her black classmates was recently insisting that he was not black. The other kids were looking at him incredulously.

“Jane understands. Don’t you, Jane? What color am I?”

“You are brown.”

“See?!”

I think those two are actually green. Two peas in a pod, they are. Taking the world so literally.

Happy Mother’s Day

As we left the ball fields tonight, we tried to decide where to go eat. The kids (for once) presented a unified front and asked for Chick-Fil-A. I was considering a local place that serves great catfish on Fridays, but was concerned about eating too much.

“It’s your choice,” my husband said. “Wherever you want to go.”

“Not fair!” Daryl called out, “You always let her pick!”

“Yes, see, we’re married. I like to leave the choice to her” was the response from the front seat. In the back, the following argument ensued.

“Well, you never listen to what we want!”

“That’s not true,” his sister butted in. “We just left a baseball game. That’s something you wanted. You said you wanted to play baseball and he listened.”

“But when we pick restaurants, he always tells her that she gets to pick!”

“That’s not true. Sometimes we get to pick. Besides, Sunday is Mother’s Day. She ought to get to pick.”

“So?! She’s going to get tons of presents for that!”

I’m getting tons of presents? I quietly asked my husband. Do I normally get tons of presents? I don’t remember that. He shrugged.

“She’s not going to get tons of presents, Daryl.”

I knew it.

“Yes she is. I’m giving her two presents and something else.”

“Was it expensive?”

“No.”

“Then what’s the big deal?”

“You don’t have to spend a lot of money for it to be valuable…”

That’s true.

“…and she shouldn’t get to pick what we have for dinner.”

“You aren’t being very nice to her. It’s Mother’s Day.”

“Not yet it isn’t. She should get to pick on Sunday. Not today. I want to go to Chick-Fil-A.”

“Yeah, I don’t want to go where Mommy said to go!” adds in Hal as we pull into the parking lot of the location I had quietly chosen during the argument.

“Oh, wait,” I told my husband. “We can’t eat here. Hal said so. I guess we’ll need to go to the catfish place after all.”

“No! We want Chick-Fil-A.”

“Then why don’t you guys quit arguing and open your eyes? We are here.”

Ball Games

“Daddy, what is your favorite ball game? Like, baseball, football, you know.”

“Playing or watching? And if watching, on TV or in person?”

“Playing.”

“Let me think.”

Now, I knew the answer to this. Of course I did. Hockey uses a puck so that leaves soccer. I know my husband. We’ve been married for over half our lives. So why was it taking him so long to answer?

“Ok, well there’s several.” What?! “Which one I like best changes. But I’d say soccer, foosball, and bocce.”

“What’s bocce?”

“It’s a yard game. Oh, and I love me a mean game of bingo.”

I may know my husband better than anyone else does, but he still manages to surprise me. Then again, I should have known that he’d look beyond sports when asked about ball games. Anything to catch a person off guard.

The Case of the Cursed Pajamas

I was in Hal’s room tonight as he got ready for bed. It is supposed to be very cold so I recommended he wear his fuzzy, footed monster pajamas. He agreed. Last night, he had worn a hand-me-down pair from his cousin but when I went in to wake him this morning, he had only been wearing his underwear.

“Where are your pajamas?” I had asked. “It’s way too cold to be sleeping without pajamas right now.”

He had shrugged me off, saying he felt like sleeping that way. All of my kids have strange notions on sleeping attire, so I thought nothing of it.

Back to this evening. As he struggled out of his shirt and I located his fuzzy, footed monster pajamas, he began to speak in a very nonchalant voice, as if what he had to say was of only middling importance to him.

“I am waiting for that pair of tajamas to dry. They have water on them.”

“What pair of pajamas? Why do they have water on them?”

I turned to where he pointed and saw the pajamas that he had been wearing the night before, tangled up with a pair of underwear, resting on a pile of books at the foot of his bed.

As I reached toward them, I could tell that they were not wet because of water.

“Hal! You peed in these pajamas! And you’ve let them sit on these books all day! Look,” I said as I lifted the top book, “This one is ruined. Come on, you need to carry these clothes. Let’s go.”

“NOOOOOoooo!!!! I don’t want to lose these tajamas! NOOOooo!” he cried.

Suddenly, everything fell into place. He thought we were headed to the trash can, not the washing machine. When he asked to wear the hand-me-downs the night before, I had said, jokingly, but maybe it was too subtle for a four year old, “Ok, but if you pee in them again, we are going to have to get rid of them because they are bad luck.”

I said that because he first wore them at Mimi’s house and had an accident that night. We washed them and as soon as they were folded, he wore them again. And peed in them again. Prior to last night, he had had two accidents in nearly a month and both times had been while wearing this cursed pair of hand-me-down pajamas.

Make that three accidents and no dry nights with these pajamas. I have become the opposite of a baseball player who refuses to change his “game winning” socks. I do not trust these pajamas. I think they may encounter an accident while they are in the washing machine. These things happen. Our washer has been known to eat things.