Sunday, March 18, 2007

so, the day has come

So, the day has come that Iris Uber Alles has left the cozy, familiar environs of her mother's funky taste (imagine a shabby, leopard-print upholstered conversation pit littered with novels, old travel guides, snoozing cats, martini glasses with lipstick prints and sippy cups with dregs of chocolate milk. That's what Iris's babyhood and toddlerhood with me felt like) to enter mainstream America. She has joined the Little League after learning of its existence at school.

I was not in favor of this, but I wasn't actively opposed, either. My own aesthetic taste didn't seem like a good enough reason to squash Iris's wish. My laziness did, though, and I told the Sober Husband that if he wanted to be the Softball Parent, he could sign Iris up for the Little League. (Of course, who has to pick her up at practice every week, hauling poor Lola behind? Hint: it's not the official Softball Parent).

Personally, I hate baseball and its spawn, softball. Growing up, whenever I visited my grandparents in the summer, endless Red Sox games were droning on in the background. All I learned from this was that watching baseball on T.V. was extremely boring and that although the Red Sox normally lose, everyone still watches. In high school, I found playing softball in gym classes boring, so much waiting around. In college, a friend took me to what should have been an exciting and scintillating event: a Red Sox game at Fenway, where we had skybox seats and Roger Clemens was pitching. I don't remember who the Sox played; I only remember that it went on and on and on, and it was so frigging cold up there in the skybox, and somehow, oddly enough, we didn't have any alcohol to drink. I had to be polite and feign enjoyment as indeed this should have been a treat for any normal person, but it was oh so wasted on me. (Now basketball, that is another story. I once saw the Celtics play at the Boston Garden back in the Larry Bird glory days, and that was a joy. And soccer, there's a fun sport to play AND watch).

In my first post-college job, working at an NPR affiliate, the dreaded softball/baseball demon raised its ugly head again. Some kind of asinine league of workplace softball teams was formed (why couldn't it have been a bowling team? Then we could have had cool shirts and nachos!), and the news director commanded me to join it. I refused (as I said to my ex, "Part of not being in high school is that no one can make me play softball"), but the nagging went on. I did drop by one game in progress for a while (I was with work friends who insisted on stopping by), which was a negative experience (the hated news director made a weird and offensive sexual remark about the woman up at bat, which strengthened my resolve never to pick up a bat or glove again).

Thankfully both my husbands were never baseball fans. My ex's best friend for a long time was obsessed with baseball and constantly yammering about the ideal of a perfect game (which I gather is one where nothing happens) and how baseball is the Platonic ideal of a sport and the ex used to humor him and join in those conversations, but that's as far as it went. Sitting through a boring conversation takes up less time than sitting through a baseball game.

But now Iris has joined the Little League, and we're being forced roughly into the baseball culture. THERE ARE FIVE FREAKING SOFTBALL EVENTS SCHEDULED FOR THIS LAST WEEK: INCLUDING FOUR DAYS IN A ROW!!! Four days in a row! FOUR DAYS IN A ROW! Have we joined the Little League Army???

On Monday, there was practice (which ran late!!! with poor Lola whining and pulling at my hand begging to go home). On Friday, there was a party to decorate a float, and allegedly there was to be pizza and cookies (I do not know what occurred at this event, as neither Anton nor Iris Uber Alles was forthcoming, but I heard a variety of remarks on the theme that Iris didn't get a cookie, Iris didn't get pizza, the cookies got put away...). On Saturday almost all the day was taken up with the opening ceremonies for Little League of San Francisco, with a parade, speeches, barbecue, etc... Iris Uber Alles got her baseball visor autographed by Mayor Newsom, and unlike her Newsom-bashing mother, has declared Gavin to be "cool!" and ignored her mother's cohort who inquired, "How much product was he wearing in his hair?" (The mayor is famed for his overly-oiled pompadour as much as for his girlfriend/wife problems). Today we had the first game, and then tomorrow it's back to practice. Will it never end???

I missed the opening day ceremonies, as I was escorting Lola to a little acquaintance's fourth birthday celebration (and oh how the little celebrant's two gay fathers slaved over this party). Anton reported being cold and hearing very dull speeches. I intended to skip today's game, as I was feeling under the weather AND the weather was horrendous, but that would have been too selfish and lazy. It turns out that at the field where our games will occur, there is a lot of dirt... dirt which doesn't innocently lie there, but dirt which is constantly being blown into the eyes of the proud parents and grandparents by the cruel winds. I've gone through years of little kid soccer games without ever being so physically miserable as I was today, in the cold with the dirt constantly hitting me in the face. Inquisitive, undersupervised dogs kept sticking their snouts up through the slats of the tiny bleachers and poking and licking at me (only I seemed to attract this attention, which was not entirely unwelcome as it provided a diversion. The attraction must have been the eau de cat clinging to my hooded sweatshirt, which I believe Al napped on yesterday). Similarly a coach's little girl was pretending to be a dog and kept licking Anton.

Anyhow, Iris Uber Alles is enjoying herself, and I'm having to attempt to hold my tongue. I've long believed that parents should not censor and proscribe a young child's taste but should humor the child without slamming something the child loves. I find it so painful when parents are ridiculing children's culture in front of the children, especially since the children are usually left tongue-tied. I hate Barney as much as the next person, but it's horrible to see the face of a Barney-loving child as his parents bash the wretched purple saccharine of it all. I've done fairly well at this over the years, with one exception: Iris, just turned five then, had purchased, with her own allowance money, a Bratz book about a beauty sleepover, which she implored her father to read to her. Hearing her father intone, in his deep bass voice, "That's a kicking make-over!" caused me to go into hysterics, and sadly Iris never asked us to read the book to her again. She loved it, and I ruined it for her with my (accidental, uncontrollable) laughter.

So yes, I am trying to rise to the occasion. I fully realize that it is I who is out of step with mainstream culture, where most people love softball, baseball, and all the associated rituals and products. It would be easier to be graceful about it all if there weren't events occurring four days in a row (excuse me, Little League, I do have a life to conduct which is not exclusively softball themed) and if it weren't for the dirt flying into my face. Why couldn't Iris take up sumo wrestling? Now there's a sport I can't get enough of watching.


Anonymous said...

Amen! I was dragged from game to practice to practice to scrimmage blah blah blah, as a child. My father was actually a very good ball player until he had a knee injury which later required surgery. My uncle today is a certified umpire with the international softball federation and travels all over the US umpiring. Happy for him. Glad I'm not be dragged. I will admit that I played softball in high school as a freshman. I caught a ball in the outfield and didn't close my glove. The mother fucker bounced out of the glove and gave me a black eye. I haven't played since. Like you said... too much waiting around! Mikaela asked to play baseball two years ago, and I couldn't get her there fast enough because she usually will shy away from extracurricular activities. It was totally obvious that she was there for peer interaction because she loafed around the field... at times, we had to all but shove her out there. She hated it. Glad to hear that Iris is really enjoying her time in the field! I can totally see her playing!


Silliyak said...

Argh, you're giving me 45 year old flashbacks to my short, but way too long time in little league.

Anonymous said...

Well, as the mother of two boys, I guess it was fortunate that I like sports. No sane person could contest your assessment of the drudgery of Little League, but I loved watching Older Son's games. Older Son was big into baseball and football. Younger Son has chosen a different path which, thankfully, does not include so much Little League: He is into tennis and golf.

the Drunken Housewife said...

Ooh, that must have hurt, Tammy. That black eye drove you right outta baseball and into cheerleading, probably.

To imagine Iris playing, you need to realize that when "fielding", she is normally dancing and conversing with nearby other girls. She doesn't make even the slightest attempt to catch or chase any balls. However, she does like being up at bat and running to the bases.

Silliyak, you should tell all on your blog!

Ann, I would enjoy watching tennis. That's a fun sport to watch, so lively. Iris is sort of a natural at tennis, unlike any other sport, and a more enterprising parent would have done something with it. I signed her up for a tennis camp last summer, but we wrote the wrong week down on the calendar so she didn't get there (the tennis camp people had a hand in this incompetence, as they never mailed me a damn thing, so I was working off a note from a phone call).

Jack's Raging Mommy said...

I'm not a fan of sports, but I am a fan of girls playing traditional "boys" sports. When I was 4 (this would have been '82) I was the only girl on my T-Ball team, as this was before it bacame common for girls to do such.

I still feel like a trendsetter :)

Epiphany said...

I have a possible solution for you. Chris and I have decided it is our duty to expose our friends' pre-teen daughters to the delights of all-girl roller derby! We took a couple of girls a couple of weeks back, and by the end of the game they were both wanting to try out. Check out for action in your neck of the woods!

hughman said...

sports huh? well you got me there. this is where my big ol' gay gene rears it's shaved little head and says "I'm out!"

M said...

while I agree wholeheartedly with your assessment of sports (only fun if you can drink while spectating, and certainly not worth getting dirt in the face!) I also agree wholeheartedly with your considered choice to support your girls in their choices.

I was one of those kids who never got to decide anything - everything from what to wear, to what to eat, to what activities I took part in were wholly determined by my stepmother (who, may I say, had truly awful taste in clothes and still does!)

it was very rare for me to enjoy the choices she made without taking my feelings into consideration.

Iris will either rock out with the softball, or she'll get sick of it and go on to something else. maybe next time you have to see a game the wind will be blowing the other way (is there more than one set of bleachers? could you bring camp chairs?)

good luck with it! I know it sucks. hopefully the satisfaction of knowing you are being a GOOD MOM and supporting your beloved daughter in making her own choices in life is worth it (and there's also no law that says you have to go to ALL the games!)

hughman said...

i do, however, love me some football.

go New England Patriots!!!

(i kid. this is just a cheap ploy to garner attention from jim.)


Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head, Carole. Cheerleading it was. Nascar is my sport of choice, because I can get ridiculously drunk in the stands and not have to assert myself physically in any way, unless you count the walk back to the campers for my more parking lot partying.


Anonymous said...

Epiphany... I would TOTALLY dig an all girls roller derby! I loved to roller skate when I was a kid, and and my past came back to me when I watched the Rollergirls on A&E. Not that I ever participated in a derby, but I was reminded of an old childhood passion. Go roller derby!


Kelly said...

How about those parents who take the whole thing so serious..... They usually are the ones who are the screamers and ruin it for everyone else. My son played for 2 years, and is not playing this year.I am relieved....

Anonymous said...

Well isn't it ironic that both of my kids came home today with baseball sign-up sheets and they both want to play. Not surprised a bit about Sam, but Mikaela.. yes! I think she changed her mind when she heard her cousin Abbe (Mikaela's side kick) will be playing.

You know, the husband of one of my closest friends coaches one of the 4-6 year old teams. I can recall hearing so many comments.. sheesh, he's pitching too high, too low...

The bitch of it all is that nobody else volunteered to do it! This guy teaches high school kids all day long, assists his wife with her media business, is a wonderful father, and on a softball league of his own. These same parents will be the ones yelling and screaming obscenities in 10 years.