Thursday, April 26, 2012

Showing up

90% of life is just showing up.
~Woody Allen

Nic ran his second Penn Relays Tuesday night.

I had an email from Jr boy #4's mom last Thursday letting me know that he was too busy for track. Thus, Nic moved from alternate to teammate. On the train ride to the relays, Nic was right there in the crush of teammates (4 to a 3-seater bench, two deep), sharing his Big Nate book and cracking wise with the rest of them.

I was also aware of the subtext; Nic was sitting with the senior boys, who were setting the example for the junior boys, who look askance at Nic. He's physically slow, he's different, and yeah, he's going to slow everyone down, but he's still a member of the team. And guess what--if he didn't run, none of you would be running.

Nic, alas, can't see any of this.

I do my best to reinforce what he can't see.

I strike a deal with Nic; if he surrenders his hat AND doesn't look over his shoulder, he gets money to buy a snack.

He surrenders his hat. He runs with focus.

But he is a good 10 seconds slower than his teammates in the 100s--an eternity, comparatively speaking. Nevertheless, he runs his heart out. And his team runs theirs. And they come in last place, by 1.24 seconds.

I think of the woman who wrote the Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mom and the whole ethos of "If you can't be in first place, why bother?"

I bother because place here is not the point. This is the one area in my son's life where he gets to experience first hand what teamwork looks like. He doesn't always get it, and he often makes loud, tactless comments that warrant correction on the subject. Fortunately, this is a fairly forgiving bunch of kids who are not afraid to correct him when he needs it, especially if I am not there to do it myself. I have modeled for them what correction looks like, and they are all phenomenal mentors for him as a result.

He is learning something I couldn't possibly teach him on my own. Likewise, he is teaching us all things we couldn't possibly learn without him.

We all win.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Where's the off switch?

I'm sitting in the confluence of several events.

In my volunteer life, I made a major deadline by the very skin of my teeth. I forwarded an email that is the equivalent of a bomb. And I answered an email with a smiley face in spite of my desire to spew invective.

In my work life, I answered a challenge with a bald question. And chased that with a balder (is that possible?) statement of fact. The inquisitor folded like a house of cards.

In my mom life, I marvel that my adult life dealing with idiots mirrors my kids' experiences. I am not happy about this. I worry.

Hubby laughs, because he's been telling me so for what, 20+ years? My eureka moments make him laugh. I'm reaching for the dark chocolate and wine. And wonder what I was thinking.

I don't have to wonder; the reality is this. I volunteer as much as I do because the result is that I get village elder status. Nobody can tell me--or my kids--no. And the truth is, I can do this village elder thing.

But the last 48 hours have left a bitter taste in my mouth. My near miss damn nearly cost us a lot; my kids are an afterthought, in more ways than one; and the new alignment in one of my volunteer efforts has me seriously considering tendering my resignation.

I have to ask the question: What's it going to cost?

Meh, it is already. I just have to figure at what point that I need to cut my losses.

Or just say no.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Geocaching my life

Geocaching is a real-world outdoor treasure hunting game. Players try to locate hidden containers, called geocaches, using GPS-enabled devices and then share their experiences online. (the offical definition from geocaching,com)

This past weekend, we had a conversation with a couple who have taken up geocaching with their teenage son. Using a GPS, they find a container, leave their name, and a little something behind.

I had an online chat with a friend last night that made me think of our lives as sort of a real-life geocaching adventure. We were talking about our respective challenges and our responses to them. And she commented that I am changing our little area of the world, and she is lucky enough to see it.

Which led me to think--yeah, I've always been one to seek opportunities for both of our kids. And wherever one has not existed, I create. It's just the way I roll.

It's sort of a geocaching for life. We find our moments, we leave our names, our marks, and little pieces of ourselves. And move on.

And others can find their ways in our footsteps, if they need to. And where they strike new paths, we can find our ways within the steps of others, as well.

It's a beautiful thing.