Saturday, June 12, 2010

6/12/2010 Triple Play

One activity per kid today! No wonder I never felt like getting anything else done.

First, Gabriel's (resumed) skating lessons. We missed 4 straight weeks, 3 due to compressor problems at the ice rink, and 1 due to ... well, Mom needing to decompress when Dad was out of town and there were two other T-ball events the same day and the other 2 kids to deal with. I just couldn't do it last week.

I didn't even see Gabriel's lesson; I dropped him off, ran an errand, and missed the whole thing. Just as well: it was hot today, and who wants to hang around an ice rink in shorts?

Later Gabriel told me it was the worst lesson he'd had; apparently he'd had a bad fall, hurt his knee and couldn't skate for about 5 minutes. Typical Gabriel, this was little more than a passing comment.

Immediately after skating, we zoomed to closing ceremonies for Little League. I don't know what's wrong with me, but I get very choked up at these things. All the pomp and circumstance...I'm a total sucker for it. I guess it's just the great sense of belonging that gets me.

As with the opening ceremonies, after introductions and high-fives with the older teams, the T-ball teams sat in the infield. I noticed that there were more T-ball teams (8) than in any other division (Farm, Pioneer, Minor and Major). No wonder they want to encourage the T-ball so much. It's really is the future of the league.

Julian's team, together for the last time.

So proud of my boy, even though his own enthusiasm for the whole thing is fairly reserved. I get the sense he still doesn't know what to make of it.

But I really loved being a part of this, and wish so much I could have actually contributed. I suppose it's more important to contribute to the school, if I had time to give at all, but my interest and desire is far stronger for "extra" things like this. Even though I was never involved in team sports myself (high school gymnastics isn't the same thing, they're still all individual performances) -- or perhaps because of that. The whole team/community thing just didn't exist in my upbringing, and it barely exists here in upscale overworked Silicon Valley. It makes me want to move to a small town where your neighbors are also your classmates, teammates and best friends.

Back at the "ranch" in Sunnyvale, it was time for -- of all things -- yardwork! The landscapers are days away from being done, and we were disappointed they weren't done on Friday. Just a few little things left to do, then allll their equipment can go away, the port-a-potty can be removed, and we can do a final cleanup and call the place our own again.

But Mother Nature has no respect for such formalities, and the grass grows regardless. Today Dave mowed our new lawns for the first time, and the kids all helped rake.

In the end, we have some very neat and manicured's almost weird. What?! Shouldn't I be elated, after all we've been through?! Our place is like a park now! But....I'm not a neat and manicured person. I like sort of wild, scrubby and just slightly out-of-control, like this wonderful Native garden we saw in April.

No lawn or tanbark there!

It's funny, I was raised with lawn and the idea that it's the gold standard for yards is hard to uproot. But more and more I see it as out-of-place, unnatural, almost ostentatious -- even as my eye continues to be drawn to it.

At 3:30 this afternoon, I finally decided that we could try 5:00pm Saturday swim lessons for Katrina. I don't think we'll do this for long, just until August, but she keeps asking for swim lessons (without really knowing what that means). After her recent near-drownings, she needs to learn some basic water mobility, and not from me.

So she's in "novice" lessons at our same old nearby swimschool, twice a week through July. The school warned me that brand-new "novices" often cry and if so, the teacher will ask parents to leave the pool deck. They were very surprised to hear me say "sure, at the first sign of a whimper, I'm outta there!" Katrina of all kids will do far, far better in any sort of lesson when Dave or I aren't around to take a stance against and exercise her twisted sense of principle.

She was very excited about the lesson, dressed immediately in her "two-pee" (two-piece), and eagerly went through getting ready. And she did great, even when I was in sight. No crying, even though she was clearly uncomfortable and taken aback by all this, but she went along with it, cooperated, and even appeared to enjoy the playtime.

A stunning difference between her and her one classmate though: he jumped boldly and happily into the water, clearing at least 3 feet first. She doesn't even know how to jump into the water. His mother told me he's 4-1/2 and that he's had lessons before, and both of those facts show. Still, Katrina's non-athleticism also really shows -- but I must emphasize that my saying this doesn't mean it bothers me at all. That's just the way she is.

In many ways, she's just like me: I'm not a natural in many things I eventually got decent at. Most kids intuitively know how not to drown in chest-deep water; Katrina needs to learn it, and that's fine. (Ironically one of the few things that was natural to me was swimming, but I was older.)

While athletics don't come to her easily, other things do. Much of her interest in spelling and basic arithmetic is stimulated by her brothers -- she always has other kids to answer questions and to get her started -- but it's clear she's interested. Her idea of fun computer time is spelling out "7 + 1 = 8" and other problems she's memorized (it's clear from quizzing her she doesn't actually do the math yet, but the foundation is building).

I predict that Katrina's biggest obstacles will be confidence and resisting things on principle. She often won't answer a question about how to sound something out, or what time it is on a digital clock, instead insisting someone else do it for her, even though we know she can do it. And for things like swimming, she is hesitant and reserved at first. And many things she resists just for the heck of it.

Overall, boys don't face such steep emotional barriers, the world is a simpler place for them. I struggle too with confidence, selling myself short, and having to know something to a much greater depth than my male peers before claiming expertise. I sure wish I had the first idea in how to guide my daughter. Or not.

It should be another beautiful day in a beautiful place tomorrow, with so many wonderful things to do around here, but frankly, I just want to stay at home.


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