Category Archives: Sports

Lisa Frank & the other loves of my life

I don’t have much proof. I’ll admit that right off the bat. But just hear me out. I’m starting to suspect that my son is not my child. 

I mean, sure, he acts just like me (NO WE’RE NOT DRAMATIC, HOW DARE YOU!) But he was born via C-section. I couldn’t see anything past that weird blue screen they put up, not even them pulling a human body out of my human body. Who knows what happened down there? And, yeah, ok, my husband claims to have witnessed it but he could be part of this whole conspiracy. So, really, who’s the crazy one here? 

Because the biggest piece of evidence is that my son (“allegedly”) starts kindergarten in a week. And he is not excited. At all. According to him, after one year of preschool, he’s all set education-wise.

“But Momma! I went to school last year, remember? I learned everything already.” 

And I know. I know what you’re thinking. Maybe he’s just scared. But that doesn’t seem to be the case either. Yesterday I sat him down and started going off on this whole heartfelt spiel about how I was terrified on my first day of kindergarten and, funny story, was actually sent to the corner on my first day of school (I was framed basically and that’s all I’ll say about it and Amy knows what she did). But he stopped me, while I was mid-monologue and teary-eyed, with a wave of his hand. 

“I’m not scared. I just don’t want to go.”

The boy isn’t even excited about getting new school supplies. SCHOOL SUPPLIES, guys. 

“Do you want to get a new backpack for this year?” I nonchalantly asked him last week.

“Nah. I’ll just use my old Paw Patrol one.”

“Well, we can buy you other things.”

“Nah.”

“But have you ever smelled a fresh notebook? Or lovingly held a new box of crayons? All sharp and unused and full of potential? Want me to buy you a Trapper Keeper?”

“What’s that?”

“The single coolest invention of all time.”

“Nah.”

WHO IS THIS CHILD? I’m not going to lie. A good 30 percent of the reason I had kids was so I’d have a legitimate reason to wander up and down the school supply aisles, creepily smelling notebook paper. But now the girl who was once too school for cool has a son who is too cool for school. It’s like a super messed up Dr. Seuss story. 

I loved school. I was that kid raising their hand going “ohohoh, pick me!” I was that kid who joined everything. T-ball, volleyball, basketball, track, one ill-advised year as a cheerleader, school plays, band, Spanish club, yearbook staff. And yes, I was probably that kid you hated and rolled your eyes at. 

Not that school was always great. It had the typical amount of suck. There was some hardcore psychological warfare going on in third grade among my clique of friends. And then again in fifth grade. And half of sixth. I spent grades four through nine in one long awkward phase. (Tenth grade I was also pretty awkward but had at least learned how to pluck my eyebrows so there were officially two). Once a boy asked me out as a joke. Twice I tripped in the cafeteria, spilling my food and dignity everywhere. And I can’t count the number of times I got busted for falling asleep in class (one, because I was asleep and two, because it was almost always in math class). 

Yet the good still outweighed the bad. And I earned a life-long love of learning. Of challenging myself. Which is what I was hoping for my own children. They don’t need to get straight A’s. Or get involved in sports. Or fake their way through Spanish well enough to become vice president of Spanish club (el gato esta en la microonda!). But I do want them to use this time to try it all, experience it all, learn it all. To discover who they are and what they can do. 

Alas, my son is not me. Nor is his younger sister. Which is something I’m trying to keep in mind as we step blindly into this new phase of their lives. I can’t make them love school. I can’t make them see with 20 years of hindsight what lies before them. 

What I can do, though, is be their cheerleader (albeit an admittedly bad and inflexible one, just like when I was in school). And I can be there for them when things get hard, and then they get easier, and then everything changes and it all gets hard again. And I can listen to them when they have a bad day, a bad teacher, a big bully. 

And most importantly, I can impart my hard-won wisdom onto them that these years are only a small window of time where they can carry around a Trapper Keeper without looking like a crazy person. 

 

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I ran 13.1 miles & all I got was this lousy self-esteem

People do dumb things. It’s one of the few things you can rely on. You’ve probably heard that old quote that goes “the only constant is change.” But really it should be amended to “the only constants are change and people do dumb things.”

I should know. I am a people and I just did something dumb.

I ran a half marathon on Saturday.

Not dumb enough for you? Just wait, there’s more. I ran a half marathon during a Nor’easter, which is a wicked storm featuring heavy rain and snow and strong winds.

Still not dumb enough for you? Here’s the best part. I paid not-dumb people $80 for this privilege.

If you would have told me 20 years ago that I would one day sign up to run a half marathon, I would have rolled my eyes so hard at you I would have seen my brain. Shoot, if you would have told me just last year that I would sign up to run a half marathon, I…well, I wouldn’t have heard you over my screaming children. But after I asked you to repeat it four times I would have responded by laughing so hard I probably would have woken up the baby and then I would have thrown a pan at your face for making me wake up the baby.

And yet, there I was. On Saturday in Cape Cod. Running 13.1 miles. In a row. On purpose.

Not only that, I trained for it. For months, I was getting up at 4:30 in the morning and strapping on my shoes and running four, five, six miles in the dark. On the weekends, it was seven, eight, nine miles. All on voluntary terms. All without anything chasing me. And all with no other purpose than I needed to run a lot to get ready to run even more.

Like I said, dumb.

On the plus side, it was also hard and painful and exhausting.

But it was transformative.

For some reason in our society we have this idea that people don’t change. Maybe they do. Maybe they don’t. But I do know we evolve.

We evolve with each trial and tribulation we overcome. We evolve every time we learn something new. With every new experience, every new person we meet, we evolve. We evolve every time we fall in love. We evolve with each heartbreak. We evolve when we hold our children for the first time.

And we evolve every time we conquer what we think is the unconquerable.

That’s why I signed up, dumb as it was. It’s easy to think that the way things are, the way you are, is how it will always be, how you will always be. I was a tired, overwhelmed mom who was getting increasingly frustrated at both herself and the way the world was.

But change is the only constant. And that’s why I ran (limped) for miles in a storm. To prove I could evolve. That I could become the kind of person who crosses the finish line. That I can be whoever I want.

And now that I did, I have a whole list of other unconquerables. I want to write a novel. And a children’s book. To become a decent photographer. To buy a house and foster orphaned pets. To be the best mom and wife and daughter I can. And, lord help me, to run a full marathon.

And there are now fewer doubts in my mind that I can do all these things. Because I evolved. Because through this experience, I became a better version of myself.

And look, this could just be the endorphins talking here, but finishing that half marathon gives me just a little bit more hope for all of us. We can be better. We can make this world better. We can do the impossible because history has shown us that doing the impossible is what humans excel at.

All we have to do is try hard. Forgive ourselves. And try harder.

And yes, I realize how naive this all sounds but hey, we could all stand to be a bit dumber that way.

World’s No. 1 Worst Soccer Mom

My toddler just started playing on a soccer team. Of course, by “soccer” I mean allegedly a sport in other parts of the world, and by “team” I mean a loose configuration of tiny humans who run around confused and are desperately trying to avoid playing anything that resembles “soccer.”

It’s super fun (she types wishing there was a sarcasm font).

No, no. Really, it is. Or, at least it would be, if either my son or me had the slightest interest in doing it. But, as it turns out, he is the laziest soccer player in the world and I am the world’s worst soccer mom.   

This toxic combo is especially awful because when it comes to toddler soccer, it’s the parents that do the heavy lifting of the actual soccer playing. We go out on the field with them and help them do the drills and, in my particular case, even hold my son’s hand while we kick soccer balls way too hard in the wrong direction because he is going through a “shy” phase (the quotes here are important because this alleged shyness appears only when we are doing something he doesn’t necessarily want to do). In fact, the only one in the family who seems to enjoy soccer is his baby sister and this is despite the fact she is getting jiggled to death in her baby carrier.

The coaches are great. The parents are great. The other kids are great.

Riker and I just happen to be the worst.

What makes this particularly ironic is that I grew up in a small Ohio town. That alone meant I was pretty much legally required to love sports. To be a devoted fan of sports. Where I’m from, you’re not even allowed to marry someone who supports a rival sports team without written permission from your parents, both head coaches, and a religious leader who supports the same team you do and shows it by ending church service early during the season so you don’t miss the pre-game coverage.

I exaggerate, of course.

It can just be verbal consent.

As a kid in a small Midwestern town, I also did my due diligence and played sports as well. Starting with T-ball and later moving up to volleyball, basketball, track and one season as a truly awful cheerleader. Every season I played a sport and every summer was one long sports camp after the other. I was so busy with sports as a teenager it’s amazing I even had time to illegally drink all that cheap room temperature beer in the middle of a cornfield.

So, see, by all rights I should be a fantastic sports mom. Especially considering I had a fantastic role model. My mom went to all of my games. ALL OF THEM. Freezing track meets in the spring, volleyball games in un-air-conditioned gyms in the early fall, basketball games where my team only scored four points the entire game (true story).

ALL.

OF.

THEM.

And as far as I know, she never once rolled her eyes or complained. Meanwhile, when Riker looks at me during soccer and says “can we go home now?”, I respond “god, I hope so soon.”

Anyone know where I can buy a “World’s Worst Soccer Mom” shirt?

But that ends today. Because my son deserves better. Because he deserves what I had growing up. Because even though I no longer watch sports or play sports or care about sports, all those years of my life devoted to youth sports ultimately made me a better person. And I want the same kind of experience for my kids.

So, I’m going to do what any good woman does for the men in her life. I’m going to fake it. From here on out, I am soccer’s No. 1 fan from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. every Thursday and Friday, Eastern Standard Time. I will cheer and be enthusiastic and keep the eye-rolling to a minimum whenever I hear yet another person yell “DON’T USE YOUR HANDS!” I even bought a soccer ball for my son so we can practice in the park (and by “practice” I mean “run around and kick the ball in random directions until we kick it in the river and it’s lost forever”).

Yes, I will fake it! I will make him think that I love every second of watching him play soccer! Even though technically I’m the one doing the soccer drills while yelling “Look! See how fun this is, sweetie?” while he chases a butterfly and picks his nose!

You know, this experience makes me really glad that my own mother truly did love being at every single one of my gam…oh wait…

Oh…

OOH…

Well played, mom. Well played.

This is why we need more kids playing sports

As a full-fledged adult now (I have my own CHECKING ACCOUNT…that even on rare occasions has money in it), I can honestly say I’ve never knowingly used algebra or had use for all the crap I had to learn of early Ohio history.

(Want to bring a party to screeching halt? Just mention that more U.S. presidents have come from Ohio than any other state. Believe it or not, this impresses no one).

But there are many other subjects I was forced to learn in school that have paid off mightily. For instance, I iz writter nao. I writ real good. Thanx, Mr. Abbott.

And, perhaps most surprisingly, is the fact that all those skills I learned playing youth and high school sports have finally paid off. All it took was becoming a parent.

So, whenever you hear someone saying sports are pointless and only for dumb meatheads, please show them the following…

sports1 sports2 sports3 sports4 sports5

You never forget your first time

This is a bit embarrassing but up until a few days ago, I was a 31-year-old virgin. Yes, I had never been officially “F”-ed. I told myself it was because I wasn’t ready. I wasn’t prepared for the way it would change my life.

But the truth is, I was ready. More than ready. Hell, I had been ready since the day I moved to Boston over two years ago, all bright-eyed and innocent, ready to shed my small town girl image for a sophisticated city gal persona.

I just wasn’t sure if, after all this time, I would even know what to do. If at this point, I would just be making a fool of myself, trying to fit in with everyone else who had vastly more experience with this kind of stuff than I did.

And then, like most things of this nature, one night one thing led to another. Drinks were had. Suggestions were made. Tickets were bought.

And before I knew it, I had lost my cherry to Fenway.

Don’t get me wrong. I had been around a few baseball stadiums at this point so I wasn’t completely innocent. In fact, my fifth-grade teacher was such a die-hard Cincinnati Reds fan that every year he took his class on a field trip to a game. I also once went to a Houston Astros game with not one but TWO of my guy friends. But since we weren’t really fans, it got kind of awkward and no one really knew where to put their hands.

But neither of those times had been like this. Never like this.

Fenway was not gentle. It was not sweet. It didn’t bother with the pillow talk, let alone cuddling.

But it did believe in plenty of foreplay. Stepping onto Yawkey Way before the main event was like stepping back in time, into a street carnival straight out of the 1930’s. All that was missing was a bunch of young boys in newsboy caps rolling a hoop with a stick down the street. I was being seduced on all sides by the sweet sounds of vendors yelling out their wares and being caressed by a thousand touches as already drunk fans barreled into me.

I was in love.

fenway1

Sure, call me a masochist if you must, but as it turns out, I like a little pain with my pleasure. And no where was this more abundant than when we got down to business and assumed the position.

You probably already know this, but the seats at Fenway are not for the faint of heart. They are not for the fair weather fan. They are not even for humans. The engineer who came up with these seats not only didn’t have a butt himself, but had also never met anyone else with a human butt in his lifetime.

Judging by the amount of leg room, he also was a hobbit.

Forget water boarding. You want a terrorist to reveal his secrets? Let him sit in one of those Fenway seats through an entire game WITHOUT the saving grace of the seventh inning stretch and watch how quickly that canary sings.

“OK, OK! Yes, I will give you all the names of my fellow terrorists and where our secret weapons cache is. Just please…PLEASE…let me stand. I can no longer feel my lower half, my back is on fire and I will probably never be able to poop normally again!”

But it didn’t matter. I was already emotionally attached. We were still in the very middle of the act, not even the fifth inning yet, and I was already fantasizing about kids. Raising my kids as Red Sox fans. Dressing them up in tiny Red Sox onesies. Bringing them to a game as a family.

I was even ready to make the ultimate commitment of season tickets.

fenway2

Of course, after the game, the magic I saw in Fenway started to fade a bit. Leaving was extremely awkward, what with trying to make a graceful exit from the stadium and then trying not to vomit as some drunk fan on the Green Line kept shouting in my face with his rancid beer breath about how awesome the game was and also how he noticed I had boobs. Two of them, in fact.

But I still have faith that Fenway and I can make this work. And I plan to be back for more.

Maybe even switch it up a bit to keep things spicy and go to an early game for a little afternoon delight.