Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Full Contact Basketball? I'm not sure we signed up for this.

I read this post by a friend of mine and it has had me thinking for a few days now.  No, I don't think she's failed as a parent.  Far from it.  Her kids are bright, happy, healthy, absolutely adorable, and I've only seem them be nothing but polite.  But no matter how well we "train" our kids in the art of interacting with other people, there is no way we can control how other parents train their kids.  Do I want to be the mom who goes off on another mom whose child is bullying one of my own?  Not really.  In a perfect world, the other parent would be a parent in the true sense and take care of the offending child's behavior and we could broker a peace deal over coffee and juice boxes.  Alas, playground politics don't usually work out that way.

Right now, M is having some trouble with a brat punk jerk bully on his basketball team.  This bully has managed to include elements of football, ultimate fighting, and Dynasty-esque slapping into the basketball practices and games.  Sure, these kids range in age from 5 to 7, so they are still learning the rules and, for the most part, the coach has done a stellar job of wrangling this bully, but practices and games are crazy (hello...the kids are 5 to 7 years old) and there are times when this little bully gets away with stuff.  Of course, I know about this because I'm on the sidelines at all the practices and games and I see it happen, but I've never gone over to the bully to rectify the situation.   But you know who else is there on the sidelines?  The bully's parents.  They've sat through a number of practices and several games watching their spawn wreak havoc on and off the court and haven't said a word.  I think that juicy tidbit is what angers me the most.  If I saw M running amuck like that, I'd definitely be having stern words with my boy.

In any case, up until a week ago, I didn't want to be the mom who lays into another mom.  However,  everything changed at last week's practice.  Some time during the course of Thursday's practice, this bully called M a, "bitch."  Really.  This word wasn't even on M's radar and now, thanks to this bully, it is.  I took a day to process this and I decided a carefully-worded email to the coach would be my first move.

Hi Coach,
I'm writing this brief email to let you know about something a little unsettling that happened during last night's practice.  It seems as if a little boy on the team (not C-----) called M------ a "b-tch" last night.  Another team member brought it to my attention - apparently she witnessed the name calling.  Even though that particular word isn't really on M------'s radar yet, he does understand that it's a bad word and he's pretty bummed about the whole affair.  We've been working on the whole "words can hurt" lesson at home and now M------ is all full of questions about why one of his teammates would call him a mean name.  M------'s pretty shy and a little overwhelmed on the court, so we are not making a huge deal about this because we are trying to emphasize the fun parts of basketball.  In any case, I understand that your role as a volunteer basketball coach does not include policing everything that comes of out the kids' mouths, but I'm wondering if you'd be able to give the team a little pep talk either this Saturday or next Thursday - whichever best fits your schedule.  Perhaps you could remind them that since they are all on the same team they should work together, not call each other names, and have fun.
Liz Chalmers
(M------'s mom)

I heard back from the coach almost immediately and he was completely on board with my suggestion and in a subsequent email I admitted which particular kid it was and the coach said he'd bring it up one-on-one with the parents.  That should be an interesting conversation.  Hopefully this unfortunate incident will help get this bully under control and the rest of the team can relax a little.  M seems to be enjoying basketball, but I can tell that he's intimidated by this little bully and I don't want him to lose interest in a fun sport just because there's a feral punk on his team.  If I want to think on a grand scale, perhaps this incident will knock the feral punkishness right out of this boy, because if he's this much of a bully when he's in the first grade, I don't want to know him in junior high or high school.

So, even though I don't want to be the mom who goes off on another mom whose child is bullying mine, I will if I need to.  It's my job to keep them safe - physically safe and emotionally safe - and I want them to know that I've got their backs.  

Matthew is number 13.  Go Spurs!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Adventures in Cowtown

Yesterday M was home from school, but L still had nature school, so it ended up being a special M Day.  On days like these, I like to try new things that might otherwise be somewhat difficult when there's an ornery three-year-old in tow.  So, we got up early and headed over to Fort Worth to check out the going's on of the Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo.  The Fort Worth Stock Show and Rodeo is the nation's oldest, continuously running livestock show and rodeo.  I believe the first stock show took place in 1896 and in 1918 they hosted the very first indoor rodeo.

Quick Disclaimer:  I grew up over on the "Dallas side" of the Metroplex, so when we moved to Colleyville in 2008, I wasn't too familiar with Fort Worth.  By now, we're quite at home on "this side" of the Metroplex and enjoy going to the Fort Worth Zoo, the Colonial Golf Tournament, and the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History.  Yesterday's trip to the Stock Show was my first and I'm glad I could enjoy it with M.  Here's what we did.

Our first stop was the Watt Arena to watch a few rounds of the Longhorn Cattle Show.  We caught the Texas Longhorn Breeders of Tomorrow - Youth Division, which meant that the people showing the cattle were kids.  One little girl was in third grade, at most.  Seriously, the cow was taller than she was.  I'd like to say that M was impressed by the little girl's achievement, but when you can witness cows going potty making fresh cow pies, then nothing can really compete with that.  One poor boy had trouble with his heifer - she laid down on her side and refused to get up.  The boy, the wranglers, and even the judge worked for a good 20 minutes before they were able to get her out of the judging area.  I'm pretty sure we had that cow for lunch.  After the excitement of cowpies and lazy cows, we moseyed through the barns and took a gander at all the animals.

M would NOT stand next to the Longhorn.  He wasn't afraid of being poked or speared, rather he feared falling into the ginormous cow pie.
Do you think a five-year-old can resist crowing like a rooster when he's surrounded by cages of crowing roosters?
Goats are crazy.
After we sized up the animal barns, we hit the carnival and midway.  The Stock Show was very much NOT crowded, so we were pretty much the only ones in the carnival and midway section - which meant that the carnies and the barkers had only us to do carnie stuff at and bark at.  In spite of that, M had a blast because he never had to wait for a single ride.

What do you call a non-Dumbo elephant ride?  Kind of creepy. 
And there's nothing wrong with the name "The Dragon Wagon," either.  Right? 

Thankfully the petting zoo and pony ride area were a bit more populated.  I discovered that M is generous, if somewhat naive, when it comes to feeding animals in the petting zoo.  We spent nearly 20 minutes and two cones of pellets feeding the four fat goats that hung out by the entrance.  Those goats totally owned him.

I'm fairly certain M alone gave those goats their RDA of livestock pellet and cone.
Knock Knock.  Who's there?  Alpaca.  Alpaca who?  Alpaca the feed if you pack the cones.
M riding "Brownie," while The World's Most Enthusiastic Pony Ride Helper helps.
There's my guy.
Yesterday was immensely fun and we are definitely going back next year with a certain ornery little girl who will love the goats.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

My Budding Ansel Adams

For Christmas this year, we got the kiddos some digital cameras.  They've been messing with ours for quite a while, so we decided to surprise them with their very own.  L's camera is one that is designed for little hands and big drops, while M's is a little more grown that it has a zoom feature and a flash.  Here's a sampling of what M has deemed worthy to photograph.

L, dressed for Valentine's Day, on December 30th.
Me and a not-so-happy L.
Thunder and assorted dolls.
Close-up of couch pillow - probably could've done without the flash.
M's Lego treasure trove.
You can see from the pictures that we've been hanging out indoors lately.  It's been a bit chilly here, but once it warms up, we are planning on going to the neighborhood park to take some nature pictures.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Bulbs are Fun to Plant and Grow!

I hope everyone had a safe and happy holiday season!  We had a great time hanging with family and friends.  M and L really seemed to understand Christmas this year.  Perhaps we've watched 'Talladega  Nights' a few too many times, because the kiddos were extremely excited about Little Baby Jesus's birthday.  What about Santa, you ask?  Why yes, Santa had a big influence over us this year.  It's amazing what a phone call or an email from Santa can do to elicit good behavior from children.  We've spent the past few days playing with new toys, chowing down on holiday goodies, and watching (and re-watching) 'Alvin and the Chipmunks' and 'Night at the Museum.'  If anything, I'll be glad to see the kids go back to school so that I don't have to hear the high-pitched chipmunk voices for a while and don't get me started on Ben Stiller's comedic hijinks and excessive mugging.

L received a unique gift from her Nature School teachers.  We found this school in Summer 2009, when M attended a one-week summer camp there.  In addition to its summer programs, River Legacy Nature School also offers a NAEYC accredited preschool.  Last year M attended the Wednesday morning program and this year L is enrolled in the full-day class that meets on Mondays.  She absolutely loves it there, which is why she was so excited to get to work on the holiday gift from her teachers...a paperwhite bulb.

Thanks Ms. Toni and Ms. Ellis!

Assessing all the components and getting ready. 
Filling the bottom of the cup with a layer of gravel. 
Placing the bulb on the gravel. 
Adding gravel until only the top of the bulb peeks out. 
Every bit of gravel has its special spot.

Adding the water.

Hopefully the bulb will thrive, provided the cats and the kids leave it alone.
Happy 2011 Everyone!