Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Baseball Is My Life....

So baseball is what you get here.

Sorry...that's just reality here at Casa De Antagonist these days.

But on a positive note...Our team took second in the District! I know you don't get what a big deal that is and probably don't care, but for us, it's pretty exciting.

These boys have really been struggling. They are GOOD. But they don't seem to be consistent. When they are on, they are absolutely unbeatable. It's honestly quite amazing to watch 14 year old boys play with that kind of intensity. Baseball is a mental game as much as it is physical. They boys have to play smart to be good, and often, they do.

But when they lack focus and motivation, they're just abominable. I think part of the problem is that they are at a phase in their lives when baseball is no longer an all consuming thing. Some days, they just have other stuff on their minds. And it shows.

In many ways, the four younger players are the more dependable, because they are more consistnetly in the game than the fourteen and fifteen year olds (because of the way birthdates fall, we have a couple fifteen year olds who missed the cut off for the higher age group).

So the Coach, who is a great guy, has been frustrated with them. Knowing what they are capable of and watching them not live up to that potential is hard. And it's frustrating to spend our meagre and hard earned funds on tournament fees (each tournament costs anywhere from $300-$600 to enter) and then get sent packing after only two games.

Some tournaments gaurantee three games. Often, if it's a double elimination tournament, they offer a third consolation game so teams can get their money's worth. But it's a very small consolation to say the least.

The last month or so, however, they've really been playing some excellent baseball. Last weekend, they went undefeated in the tournament we hosted at our own park, until the championship game, where they were beaten by a really excellent team from Fannin County.

So we went into District with our spirits and our hopes high. But we also knew that the boys had to play their abolute best. There were only four teams playing, and only two would go onto the State Championship the week after next. All the teams with the exception of one, were tough teams to beat. All of us knew it would be an uphill battle to get to State.

On Saturday, we won the first game, lost the second. We had to lose two to be eliminated, so on Sunday, it was do or die. If we lost, the season would be over for the team. The boys knew that, and it was really just a crap shoot as to whether that would motivate them to do their best, or give them a thoroughly defeatist attitude.

It motivated them to do their best.

They played excellent baseball and defeated a team that had smoked us three times previously in various tournaments. It was a very, very close game...a real nail biter. At one point, we were down by 7 runs. But we came back to win it 12-9.

We still had to play one more game, but that win qualified us for State. The boys were absolutely ecstatic.

The team that had been the team to beat all season long, ended up in third in the District. This was a surprise upset, and really a good example for all the boys playing in this tournament.

You see...their star pitcher, who is somewhat of a phenom, got ejected for unsportsmanlike conduct on Saturday. The rules state that in such an instance, the player is ejected from that game, plus the next game. This resulted in two consecutive losses, and their disqualification for State. So their entire team paid for the actions of one player.

The second game did not go so well for us. We had to play the top seed, who were fresh and who also had the home field advantage. We had already played one very, long, very tough game in the blazing heat and crushing humidity and the boys were really done in. But we had to play again after only a fifteen minute break.

We got spanked pretty badly, 11-1, but it didn't really dampen spirits all that much, knowing that we are going to State.

I have to say, it's a different experience playing at this age level. Pubescent One is thirteen, and in many ways, I still see him very much as a little boy. But some of these boys are on the brink of manhood. It's interesting to see glimpses of the men they will become.

They are strong, and proud, and tough and tenacious. But also...vulnerable, sensitive, kind and compassionate. They are sometimes silly and vulgar, but sometimes serious and introspective.

They are emerging as adults, tentative and uncertain, but driven to find themselves and their place in the world. It's a lot like watching a toddler try on grown up shoes. They are awkward and clumsy, but so very determined.

These are the young men who will be shaping the face of our world when we are in the twilight of our lives. Sometimes, thinking about what the future holds and the precarious state of things, gives me a cold, hard, anxious feeling deep in my belly.

But watching these boys, I feel...hope.

They're good boys.

Just look at these faces...

Pubescent One is in the bottom row, second from the right, if you care. He really isn't as surly as he looks, he just dislikes showing his braces in photos. Thanks Lisa for photoshopping the team name out for me.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Music Stuff, 'Cause I Got Nothin' Else

A while back I asked for music suggestions, and since then several folks have mentioned that they would like to hear my thoughts on them.

Honestly, life has been so crazy the last couple of months, that I haven't had a chance to go through all of them yet. I got SO many recommendations, which was awesome, but it's going to take me some time to wade through them all. are a few preliminary thoughts...

A BIG thanks to whomever recommended The Veronicas. LOVE them.

Also, this quirky song by Robyn has staked a claim on my brain and I catch myself singing the refrain over and over and over.

Also loving Duffy, Nickelback, Linkin Park, Missy Higgins, One Republic, Metro Station, The Killers and Anouk.

Pubescent One used to be a pretty reliable source for current music, but he has entered a death metal phase, which means that probably 99% of what he's listening to drives me effectively insane within about four beats. Cacophony is not a musical styling I can embrace.

Don't laugh, but "So You Think You Can Dance" is a great show for finding interesting new music. Some of it is mainstream, but some is not and I like that. I got this Marilyn Manson song from last week's program. Yes, I know he's a freak, but sometimes, I like a song with a really strong, primal, almost animalistic beat. I just grabbed me.

Plus, I downloaded a couple of broadway showtunes that were featured on the show. Yes, I have a broadway playlist on my iPod. Well c'mon...I'm a Mom. I'm allowed to be dorky that way, as long as I don't do it front of any cute girls in whom my son is interested.

I'll try to make a more thorough review when I have an opportunity. But if you have a chance, give 'em a listen. Or better yet, go to my original post, and peruse some of those suggestions.

Report back, please.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Testosterone is bad....Mkay?

My oldest son got into a fist fight at baseball practice Wednesday night.

This is very out of character for him.

Pubescent One dislikes conflict, even if he is not directly involved, and will usually go to great lengths to keep the peace. He's pretty laid back and affable, and unlike Diminutive One, he does not butt heads with other kids very often.

So I was horrified when I realized that my easygoing, good natured son had one of his teammates in a headlock.

Husband was on the field running drills with the boys, so I did not go running out there. But I wanted to.

The skirmish was settled without bloodshed and they went back to practicing. I had to sit there and wait to hear what happened second hand from Husband, who did not actually see or hear what prompted the clash.

In a of the boys is a problem. He is a very negative kid. The apple doesn't fall far from the tree, unfortunately. His Dad is one of those parents that sits in the stands and provides constant negative commentary on each and every play. Twice I've caught him making snide comments about my son when he didn't realize I was in earshot, and I've heard innumerable comments from him regarding other kids on the team.

But whatever. I try to ignore it. His kid is generally one of the weaker players, so he's only making himself look like an ass when he criticizes the other kids.

But it's clear that his negativity has rubbed off on his son. At the beginning of the season, the team was not performing very well. Most of the boys were able to maintain a positive attitude despite that, and tried very hard to encourage each other and keep one another's spirits up.

But not this kid. He would sit in the dugout and tell the rest of the boys how much they suck and how he should never have joined such a sucky team, and how none of them would ever get chosen to play high school ball.

Nice, huh?

On one such occassion, Pubescent One told him to shut his mouth, because he was bringing the team down. And that was the spark that ignited the fuse. It has continued to burn slowly all season long.

My son and this kid both pitch and both play third base. My son is a 13 year old playing on a 14 year old team, so by rights, he should be a secondary pitcher. He knew this going in, and was okay with that. It has not turned out that way however, because his pitching this season has been absolutely stellar, while the fourteen year old pitchers have been really struggling.

He and one other boy have ended up being the go to pitchers for all the important games.

This, of course, really chaps the ass of his nemesis. It also chaps his ass that my son is a far superior third baseman. When my son isn't pitching, he's on third base. The only time the other kid gets to play that position, is when my son is pitching.

And then we have the Alpah Male syndrome. The other kid, being older and bigger, feels as though my son should behave in a more deferential manner towards him. Now, my son may be easy going, but he is not an ass kisser, and he is not a follower.

This of course, all adds to the problem.

And last night, the fuse finally ignited that powder keg of male aggression.

For some reason, the other kid was in a particularly surly mood. He has to go to summer school, and I suspect some of the other kids were ribbing him about it. My son was not, however. Pubescent One is smart, but lazy and unmotivated and we have struggled with him all year. He missed going to summer school by only a few grade points, so he's certainly not one to throw stones.

But my son is his favored target, and that night was no different.

He was calling my son names, (fag, douchebag, etc.) telling him nobody at school likes him...all of which my son took without too much comment. But then, the kid made the grave error of criticizing his baseball playing.

My son warned him that if he didn't shut up, he was going to deck him.

Now, this kid is BIG. He's 5' 10", around 190 pounds. My son is 5'5" and weighs all of 115 pounds. For that reason, I'm sure that kid thought it was an empty threat. And he continued to mouth off.

Finally, my son had enough. He had a baseball bat in his hands when the kid called him a "lame ass motherfucker" and he tells me that for an instant, he had a nearly uncontrollable urge to knock him upside the head with it.

But he didn't. Instead, he threw it at the kid's feet, and told him to "bring it". The kid threw a punch and missed. My son put him in a headlock and gut punched him so hard the kid couldn't breathe. It was at that point that I noticed what was going on.

All I could see was my son holding this ginormous kid, who was scarlet faced and gasping like a fish out of water, in a headlock. I had no idea what events had taken place up to that point, so you can understand my shock.

Two of his teammates pulled them apart. The kid could not resist a parting shot, though I don't know what was said, and my son cocked back to punch him again. It was at this point, that the Coach, who had been doing drills in the outfield, approached, heard what was going on, and told that kid that his behavior was uncalled for.

Later, after practice, the Coach gave the kids a little talk about good sportsmanship, team spirit, and having a positive attitude. He did not point fingers at either kid, but he knew the scoop. As I said, this kid has been a problem all season, and I suppose, being a guy, the Coach knew at some point, one of the boys would make him eat his words.

The thing son was VERY upset about the whole thing later.

He's generally a passive kid, but in the moment, testosterone was coursing through his veins and all he could think about was pounding that kid into the dirt. Later, upon reflection, he was horrified by how he had acted.

He couldn't sleep because he was consumed with guilt. So he came to my bed, crawled in, and asked me what he should do.

He said, "Mom, when I hit him, he just went limp. I really hurt him and I didn't know what to do. I feel bad about that, even though he was asking for it."


What advice is a mother supposed to give in such a situation?

He said he didn't feel that he owed the kid an apology. I agreed. But, I told him, sometimes, an apology can make you feel better and help you to move on, even if it's not warranted. He said he kinda wanted to apologize and kinda didn't. I suggested that if he didn't want to apologize to the kid, perhaps an apology to the Coach and the team for taking their conflict out on the field might be in order. He liked that idea.

When we were done talking, I asked if I had helped ease his worries at all. He said morosely, "Not really, but thanks for trying Mom."

I told him that I wished I could fix it for him, but that he's at an age now where he has to figure out how to fix things for himself. I told him I would always be there to support him when he needed me though.

Then he asked, "When does this being a teenager crap get easier?"

Truthfully, I answered, "Never, honey."

Being a 13 year old girl was hard, and though I sometimes long for my youth, I often think I wouldn't do that again for a squillion dollars. But to be a teenaged boy? God. There's so much...angst. It's acceptable for Girls to express all their frustration and heartache with tears and tantrums. But boys are held to a standard of behavior that does not allow them to express themsevles so freely. They have to be manly...strong...stoic.

Being branded a sissy is a fate worse than death.

Husband told me not long ago that at some point, every boy has to prove that he is more than willing to kick some ass, particularly a passive one such as Pubescent One.

I didn't want to believe it then. I thought it was just more hyper masculine excuse to indulge their blood lust and their love of violence. But the more I learn about boys, and how they work, the more I am forced to admit that he is right.

Last night at practice, the kid gave my son a wide berth and did not say one unkind word to anybody.

My son apologized to the Coach and told him that his respect was important to him. He says he feels better now.

Gah. This parenting gig gets harder and harder.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

I Feel Old

I actually got the day off from jury waiting today.

I took my boys to the pool, but did not swim. Instead I sat in a lounge chair and listened to the various conversations happening around me. One hears interesting things when other people are speaking in an ungaurded fashion.

I wasn't eavesdropping...I was obviously close enough to hear anything being said and no particular pains were being taken to be discreet. Sometimes when people are deep in conversation, they forget that others are in earshot.


I was sitting in a patch of shade near the baby pool, where two young mothers were talking about George Carlin having died.

Mother #1: "Hey, did you hear George Carlin died?"

Mother #2: "Oh no! Not Mr. Conductor!"

Mother #1: "I know...there will never be another narrator like him. I never liked any of the other Mr. Conductors."


She only knew him as Mr. Conductor. She had no idea he was a brilliant comedian and social satirist with a penetrating insight and excoriating wit.

And I suddenly felt much, much older than any 39 year old person should.

R.I.P George Carlin.

Many will remember you for your seven words, your ridiculous arrest, your fight against censorship, and your amazing comedic ability. But the fact that you are also remembered as the beloved Mr. Conductor on an iconic children's television program, just shows that you had style, depth, character and versatility beyond measure.

You will be missed.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


I got paid $25 to drink coffee and read surprisingly current magazines.

I arrived at the courthouse prompty at 8:30 as directed. I made my way to the holding tank, and...held.

We read, we surfed the web, (but I decided not to bring my laptop) we chatted, we paced, we watched daytime television (but no CourtTV or local news), we snacked.

At noon, all but 11 of us were told they could leave for the day because all the cases on the docket had been resolved except one. My panel was asked to report back at 1:30.

Most of us were back by 1:00, thinking we would be going in for jury selection (only six of the eleven on the panel would be needed). But we didn't. We waited some more.

At 2:00, we were told the case had plead out and we could go home.

I was really kind of getting excited about sitting on a jury. At first I was just pissed off at the world over the entire situation. But then I began to relax and realize it might be interesting to see the judicial system at work.

So I was actually disappointed when they let us go. Plus, you know...we'd been sitting there all day. It seemed like a big fat waste of time to have waited all that time, only to be dismissed.

The court clerk said she would try her best not to schedule our panel on the calendar tomorrow since we had been there two days in a row. But...there are 246 cases pending this week, and they have to plan as if every one of them is going to trial.

So who knows.

I have to wonder if this is the most efficient way of doing things.

Monday, June 23, 2008


This weekend, we hosted the 14U Summer Baseball Bash Tournament.

I won't go into all the drama that inevitably accompanies this type of endeavor, because all in all, it was a great success.

Our boys took second place, which is pretty darned good. I thought they might go all the way and win our own tournament, but they had to go up against some Fannin County boys who were just really, really excellent ball players. And, they were BIG to boot.

But really, if we had to lose to someone, I'm glad it was them. They were the nicest team people we encountered all weekend. The parents were friendly and easy going and the boys were good sports as well as being respectful and well behaved.

Fannin County Longhorns, please know you are welcome at Adams Park any time.

That said...we are all EXHAUSTED. Running a tournament is a lot of work and we were all on our feet for 10-12 hours a day for 4 days running.

Last night, after cleaning the concession stand, grooming the fields, cleaning the restrooms (ew), and loading coolers, chairs, canopies, leftover concession food and baseball gear into the van, we got home around 10 p.m.

My feet hurt. My back hurt. My hips hurt. My shoulders hurt.

I slipped into a steaming hot tub with nothing short of complete and total relief.

I was juuuuuuuuuuuuuust starting to relax, when Husband knocked on the door and said...

"Uhhh, baby? Don't you have jury duty tomorrow?"

And that's when I said many and varied bad words.

That's what I get for registering to vote.

You've got to understand that we have not been home except to sleep in FOUR days. The house is a wreck, there is no food, the laundry is piled to the ceiling and the litter boxes are a certifiable biohazard.

I had planned to do some clean-up and laundry this morning, and then take my boys, who are also exhausted, to the pool for some much needed R&R this afternoon.

Scratch that.

So I went to jury duty this morning. I've never done it before, but it honestly wasn't that bad. I did mistakenly go to Superior Court instead of State Court, (I misplaced my summons, which was color coded for that purpose) which caused me a little anxiety. But luckily the State Court building was right across the street, so no real problem.

The process has been pretty refined to make it as painless as possible and every amenity has been provided for the jury pool. The people were friendly, and the judge seemed sincerely grateful for the service we were providing.

Jurors can even surf the net while they wait to see if they will serve on a trial jury that day.

Today I was dismissed by 10:30 because the case to which my panel was assigned settled without a trial. I'm guessing it was a car accident case, because we were all asked if we were employees, administrators, or policy holders of a particular auto insurance company.

But the thing is...I have to serve all week, possibly on more than one trial. I have to call in each evening to find out if I am to appear the following morning. And, I may be told to come in, only to be dismissed at a later time if the parties involved accept a plea or otherwise reach an agreement that would negate the need for a jury.

What a pain in the ass.

Yes, yes, I know...a fair trial by a jury of my peers is a privilege and a civil liberty that many people in this world do not enjoy. I also know that I might need to avail myself of juris prudence some day, so I should serve my civic duty without complaint.

Nevertheless, last night at eleven p.m., I was on the internet looking up the penalty for not appearing for jury duty in the state of Georgia. I was honestly, at that point, quite willing to pay a couple hundred dollars for the privilege of sleeping in this morning.

As it happens, if one does not appear for jury duty, one will be collected and shown to the courtroom by an armed escort, not to mention, fined and jailed.

Not something I really want my kids to see, I suppose. And, I don't relish the thought of appearing in court in my bathrobe and slippers.

So I went. And I will go tomorrow, and the day after that, and the day after that. And the day after that.


Due process. It's the gift that keeps on giving.

Friday, June 20, 2008


Alright folks. I know my quiz was lame, lame, lame.

My readership lately reflects the quality of my content and my delinquency in commenting elsewhere. I'm sorry folks, I really am. I have been a bad blog citizen, I know. I promise after this Allstar crapola is over with, my content and my commenting will improve.

Bear with me 'til then?? are the answers to my quiz. Let me tell you...this really took me back. I am a nostalgia addict anyway, but delving into the commercial past really made me wistful for my childhood.

That sort of makes me wonder about the amount of time I spent in front of the television, but as I remember it, my folks were fairly militant about t.v. time. I recollect that we spent a vast majority of our days outside.

That just demonstrates what a huge impact media has on us. Thirty years later, I can recall commercials that I saw, even for products that I didn't use or care about, such as Calgon water sofetner. I can hear that lady perfectly in my head..."My husband..some hotshot..."

Marketing and rampant commericialism is one of my biggest pet peeves, but that's another post for another day.

Every generation laments the "simpler times" that are past, but really, I think, our generation takes the cake for the complexity of living. Although, I suppose there are ways in which our lives are immeasurably easier.

Hell, I practically did cartwheels when gas stations started offering pay at the pump. There are parents now who never had to schlep a sleeping infant in to pay for gas, and that, I dare say, can only be seen as an improvement upon life matters.

It was fun for me to go back in time for a little while. I hope you enjoyed it just a little. If you have some time to kill, go look some of these up on YouTube. It's a hoot.

1. Dr. Pepper
2. Enjoli
3. Calgon
4. FAberge Organic Shampoo
5. Indian pollution commerical
6. Certs
7. Hi Karate
8. Alka Seltzer
9. Chuck Wagon
10. Kentucky Fried Chicken
11. Burger King
12. Salem Cigarettes
13. Pepsi
14. Midol
15. Ultra Brite Toothpaste
16. Folger's Coffee
17. Life cereal
18. Jordache jeans
19. Whammo wheelie bar
20. Bounty
21. Palmolive
22. Fisher Price toys
23. Paul Mason wine
24. Lite Brite
25. Shasta
26. Tame Cream Rinse
27. Adorn Soft Hold Hairspray
28. JC Penney Battery
29. Weebles
30. Miller Beer

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

So Fluffy, It Purrs

In light of the fact that I have nothing to say that doesn't involve baseball, overzealous sports parents, and my own distressing propensity for taking on more responsibility than I need....

I decided to make up this little quiz. Being a lover of all things retro, these came mostly from my own memory, but I did check various sources for accuracy. See if you can name the commerical or the product based on these jingles or phrases. No fair using Google or YouTube.

There's no prize, sorry. Didn't your mother ever tell you that fun is it's own reward?

1. Drink a Bite to Eat at 10, 2 and 4.

2. I can put the wash on the line, feed the kids, get dressed, pass out the kisses and get to work by 5 to 9.

3. Ancient Chinese secret...huh?

4. You'll tell two friends, and they'll tell two friends, and so on, and so on, and so on.

5. Some people have a deep abiding respect for the natural beauty that was once this country...and some people don't.

6. It's like two, two, two mints in one.

7. This man's got trouble, because he's wearing too much of a new aftershave.

8. MAMA MIA! That's a spicy meatball!

9. Next to you, it's what he likes best, and needs most. Just add warm water.

10. With 11 different herbs and spices...why cook?

11. We make 600 million burgers a year. One at a time.

12. The softness freshens your taste.

13. Come alive! It's the light refreshment with the bold clean tatse.

14. Works before, during AND after.

15. From dull, to dynamite!

16. Mountain Grown for better flavor.

17. You're the only one who has to know.

18. You've got the look.

19. Motorcycles do it. Cars do it. Even trucks do it.

20. It gets spills up before they get you down.

21. You're soaking in it!

22. They run on child power. And then, there's imagination.

23. We will sell no wine, before it's time.

24. Making things with liiiiight. Outta site, making things with....

25. It tickles your tummy instead of your nose.

26. Defrizz the frizzies with....

27. C'mon, touch it.

28. The last battery you'll ever need.

29. They wobble but they don't fall down.

30. If you've got the time, we've got the beer.

There ya go. Have fun. And if you have a good one, let me know, I'll add it to the list.

Monday, June 16, 2008

When Good Ideas Go Bad

My boys and I have developed the really bad habit of staying up extremely late now that school is out. Husband goes to bed early, so we are left mostly to our own devices.

Part of me thinks I am a crappy mother for not maintaining a consistent schedule, and part of me thinks that staying up late is half the fun of summer and I should just let them enjoy it. They have plenty of years ahead of them in which they will be slaves to the electronic drill sergeant that stands watch at every adult bedside.

Lately, they have outlasted even me and I have to retire to my bed to read or write while they do whatever it is they do in the dank dark recesses of Pubescent One's room.

But often, they come sheepishly to my bedside; sometimes singly, sometimes together, asking if they can get in, just for a while.

It used to be that nighttime was my time. I relished the quiet after everyone was asleep. It was the only time of day I felt truly relaxed and free of my obligations. It was the only time I felt that I had permission to be off-duty, in every sense of the word.

But during the summer, I parent from sunup (well not really...I don't really do sunup) to whenever they fall into an exhausted tangle amid the bedsheets. It's wearing me out.

So my first impulse is usually to refuse. But I don't. I let them wheedle and cajole me into allowing them to squeeze into my bed, where we lay side by side like sardines in a can.

Sometimes they bicker and when that happens, they are sent packing without preamble. My bed is a no bickering zone.

But sometimes we talk and tell jokes. Sometimes I read while they just enjoy the comfort of me and I enjoy the still neediness of them. Sometimes, they tell me stories that they've made up in their head. Sometiems I tell them what's in mine.

In these moments, I think, they are able to see me as someone other than their Mom. I am still there in the sense that they need me to be...solid and strong, and in their eyes, invinceable, impervious, immortal. But without the pressure of our daily worries, my Mother mask slips a little, and they see the woman behind it.

Last night, though I was exhausted from a day spent hauling equipment, coolers, camp chairs and various other paraphanalia about 4,000 miles from our van to the field, I let them pile in.

They asked me to show them the clip of "Can't Touch This". Have you seen the Hallmark commerical with the very typical white suburban Dad who receives a musical card and then dreams of cavorting in harem pants, sporting stripes in his sparse hair and bustin a pretty impressive move? It cracks Husband up every time, so of course, we had to get him that card for Father's Day.

They wanted to see the origanl version, so I got my laptop and we watched it together. As I have said before, YouTube is a rabbit hole that once ventured down, is difficult to extract one's self from, and last night was no exception.

We watched one funny clip after another. Each time I suggested it was time to actually get some sleep, they protested with pleas for just one more.

They showed me this clip:

And this one:

SIGH. Boys and farts. It just never gets old.

I found this one much funnier:

They failed to see the humor.

So I showed them this:

And this:

After that, we had to watch every. Single. Stuart clip. We laughed until our sides ached. And then at last they were ready to succumb to the most evil of childhood villains....and slept.

Heartwarming, isn't it? I know. But today?

They are driving me batshit crazy with Stewart references.

As I poured some Cheerios for Dimuntive One, he adopted a falsetto and warbled "Let me do it!"

His brother howled with laughter, which of course, escalated things. And from there, it was just a lost cause.

When I tried to look in the collar of Pubescent One's shirt to assess his sunburn, he crouched comically, arms akimbo and whined "NOOOOOoooooooo." Diminutive One nearly peed himself laughing.

Every four minutes or so, one of them hollers "Look what I can do!" and then twitches spasmodically for a moment or two.

It was funny for a while. Both of them are born mimics and I laughed once or twice despite myself, which was a COLOSSAL tactical error on my part. I should have feigned indifference, because it might have fizzled out by now had I posessed the foresight that a mother of thirteen years should when it comes to this kind of stuff.

I finally sent them upstairs to play video games because I just couldn't take one more leg fart.

So, the moral of the story is...

Shit, I don't know. Maybe think twice about all but handing your kids the laces to a nice white jacket that ties in the back?

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Boys Will Be Boys

Preface: Both of my boys have recently had their internet access revoked indefinitely for looking at inappropriate material. This is not the first time, hence the "indefinitely" part.

We have explained to the boys that wanting to look at boobs is a perfectly natural thing. We understand that. And really, we have tried to be very matter of fact about nudity. Boobs are not bad, or dirty, nor is looking at them.

But it's all the other stuff they could stumble onto that worries us. There is some scary stuff on the internet, stuff they they can't yet understand, and don't yet need to see.

But still they look. It's like Pandora's box, I suppose.

That said....

The ball team has been on a losing streak, which we finally managed to break this evening. The coach promised the boys a trip to Hooters if they won.

Well, yannow. Incentive is incentive. And when you're fourteen, very little inspires like Hooters.

So we went. I have no problem with it. I know, objectifying women and all that. It should bother me. But it doesn't.

Diminutive One had never been to Hooters before. He was...impressed, with the erm....decor.

At one point, Husband asked him what he thought. His reply?

"WOW. This is better than the internet."

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Callin It Like I See It

Last week, I had a conversation with a friend who is a U.S. Citizen, but who currently lives in the U.K. with her husband and children. When we had concluded our discussion, she said, "I hope you write a blog post about that."

I haven't, just because I've not had an opportunity to sit down and gather my thoughts about the issue and then express them in a cohesive manner.

Also, I tend to shy away from political rhetoric for a plethora of reasons but most notably, because I really don't feel that I am well versed enough in politics to opine convincingly, articulately and intelligently.

But I'm going to give it a shot.

Our conversation was prompted by this question from her: "Do you think America will really elect a black president?"

My answer...was....

No. I don't.

I know. I'm in the minority. A lot of people in the U.S. are already treating Obama's victory in November as a foregone conclusion.

I do think we've made a hell of a lot of progress. The fact that Obama has made it as far as he has is a testament to that.

But you see...I am now a Southerner by marriage. Oh, I'm still an outsider. I talk funny and I'm a godless heathen to boot. Nobody knows my "people", so I'm a mystery. But I'm married to one of their own, so to satisfy the dictates of Southern decorum, I am accepted if not entirely understood.

So I hear things. I see things. Voices are not lowered when I am around, euphemisms are not employed. I am witness to the ugly underbelly of prejudice in all it's unvarnished truths.

And I will tell you this...there is a very large segment of our populace who will simply not allow a black man to come to power in the United States. They're all for progress of course...why, they think colored folks are just like the rest of us; except when it comes to marrying their children or leading their government.

That's where their largesse and their forward thinking ends.

You may think that it's just the rural uneducated, the rednecks, the hillbillies. But there are doctors, lawyers, teachers and preachers who espouse the very same ideals, albeit with a bit more circumspection and tact.

They are my neighbors. They are my peers. They are raising children who will one day shape the future of our nation. And they are teaching them to hate.

I don't believe they are in the minority, nor do I believe their numbers are confined to the Deep South. The South is just less apologetic about it, finding legitmacy in racism as a cultural legacy dating back to the glory days prior to the Civil War, when niggers and womenfolk knew their place.

It's their heritage, and who's to tell them it's wrong? They defend it with a rabidness would be admirable, if it weren't so dismaying.

Anyway...I think we, as a society, have been buying into the fairy tale of acceptance and tolerance, which has been supported and promoted by the political correctness bandwagon upon which we have collectively jumped.

But words are not actions, and words are not beliefs. Words are empty promises and meaningless blandishments. They appease and they adorn and they lead us into a false sense of living what should be instead of understanding what really is.

Here's what I understand; things haven't changed a whole lot since 1955, when Rosa Parks stood up to that man on the bus, or those two brave young souls walked through the doors of the University of Alabama in 1963, while Governor Wallace looked on in patent disapproval.

In 2002, a Whites only prom was held at Taylour County High School in Butler, Georgia. You had no idea did you? Are you shocked? You should be.

I understand that not only do racist attitudes persist throughout the United States, they thrive.

I understand that because of the dictates of and expectations placed upon polite society to appear tolerant, a black man may be a Judge, a Senator, even a Secretary of State...but not President.

Because that's just taking things too damned far.

And it's going to be a very, very long time before our human sensibilities catch up with our societal grandstanding.

But you know what? As long as there are people like Rosa Parks, Harvey Gantt, Lucinda Brawley and Barack Hussein Obama who are willing to take it on the chin for the cause of equality...then I have hope.

With apologies to Mr. Obama...I'm just calling it like I see it.

But I hope like hell I am proven wrong.

*My thanks to the commenter who corrected me about the University of Alabama. I knew that, I swear. I read several different articles about integration in the South while researching that piece and just...brain farted when it came to typing it out, I guess. That'll learn me to post while watching "So You Think You Can Dance". ((blush))

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Save A Tree, Use The Internet

Yesterday, I got three huge phonebooks delivered to my doorstep.

Because I live in a large Metropolitan area, I get phonebooks for about 17 different cities. It's ridiculous, particularly since I literally, NEVER use them.

I use whenever I need a number. It's quicker, easier and yields more results. Plus, I just don't have a convenient place to store 17 phonebooks.

Last year I inquired about an opt out and was told there was no way to do so.

Um, what? Really?

So I continue to get phonebooks. And I continue to throw them directly in the garbage.

Is there a phonebook recycling depot? Not that I've found.

Because we live outside the city limits, we do not get city municipal services.

We don't recycle here at home because our trash service charges extra for that and we just don't have it in our budget. I know it's a thin excuse for not being more environmentally conscious, but we live on a single income and every little penny counts.

I do try to take magazines, bottles and cans to the freestanding bins in the supermarket parking lot, but I've not seen one for phonebooks. Could they go in the magazine one? Such a dilemma.

I think this is a huge problem. If 4 million people are throwing away phonebooks each year, that's a monumental waste.

I wonder how many trees are dying to manufacture phonebooks that nobody uses. I mean....does anybody use them these days?

I suppose in the grand scheme of global environmental crises, this is a small issue. And yet, I still felt a twinge of guilt as I dumped the heavy volumes into my trash can.

Just a thing to make you go...hmmmmmmm.

Monday, June 09, 2008

Into the Wild, Damn Him


I am very angry with Christopher Johnson McCandless. Very angry indeed.

You see, he pulled me into his life and made his cheerleader, his champion, his mother and his friend. He made me care about him. And then he died.

The official cause of death is listed as starvation, but if you ask me, the real culprit was stupidity. Well, perhaps I can more kindly attribute it to naivete and recklessness. After all...we were all 23 once, and who among us did not do incredibly foolhardy things at 23?

But still...he had so much going for him and he pissed it away. The waste is too much for a mother to bear, even if he wasn't my child. I can't imagine how his own mother must feel, knowing all that he could have been.

How do you make peace with that, as a parent?

I're asking yourself, Who is Christopher Johnson McCandless?

Christopher Johnson McCandless was a 23 year old Emory University Graduate whose life was the basis for the 2007 movie "Into the Wild." After graduation, he divested himself of all his worldy posessions, including $24,000 in cash that was earmarked for law school, and disappeared.

His parents mounted a search, of course...what parents wouldn't? They did not find McCandless, but they did find several very significant clues that led them to the realization that his vanishing act had been purposeful and well planned.

He was contemptuous of the materialism, consumerism, and all the other isms that contemporary society had imposed upon him and so, he decided to leave them all behind.

I can appreciate that. Who doesn't get weary of the rat race from time to time? Who can't appreciate the allure of being free of all the societal restraints and underpinnings that bog us down, drag us under and hold us hostage?

Sometimes, I think that Randy Weaver had the right idea when he absconded to Ruby Ridge. know...the dealing in illegal arms and killing and dying part, but the retreating from society part. The living off the land part. The communing and being one with nature part. The not consuming earth's precious resources part. The not being plugged in, turned on and tuned out, part.

I always felt kind of sorry for Randy Weaver for how all that turned out. I mean, I know he was a criminal and a racist, but the way that all went down was really reprehensible. His kids and his wife didn't have to die.

But I digress.

Christopher Johnson McCandless adopted the moniker "Alexander Supertramp" and traversed the country on a remarkable journey of self-discovery, existential realization, and emotional growth. He met amazing people, he saw amazing things.

What a story, man. What a an incredible, freaking experience. Most of us will never get the opportunity to do what he did, for various reasons.

Near the end of his journey, he decided to retreat from society completely rather than just living on the fringe. So he headed to Alaksa, toward some of the most wild and unforgiving terrain in the U.S. to try his hand at living off the land.

That's not the stupid part. That's really kind of cool, and you have to appreciate the sheer unmitigated testicular gigantism that it takes to do such a thing.

But the kid did not make even the most basic preparations, or equip himself with the most basic equipment necessary to undertake such a journey.

A man named John Gallien, who dropped McCandless off at the head of the Stampede Trail in April 1992, begged him to reconsider, or at least defer his trip until he could better prepare for such a grueling excursion. McCandless refused, but accepted the gift of a pair of rubber boots from Gallien.

Later, Gallien told investigators that all McCandless had with him was a 10 pound bag of rice, a .22 rifle, a book on local plant life, several other books, and some basic camping equipment.

He didn't have a compass or a detailed topographical map of the area, which would prove to be a fatal mistake.

He found an abandonded bus and set up camp. There he lived in Thoreau like solitude for several months. But it wasn't quite as idyllic or as easy as he had anticipated. In July, starving, ill, lonely and defeated, he decided his journey had come to an end, and tried to hike back to civilization.

What he hadn't considered, was that the spring thaw had caused the Teklanika River, which he had forded easily in April, to swell and swiften. His escape route was impassible. And I think that's when he began to realize he was doomed. He headed back to the "Magic Bus" and I think, gave up.

As I watched the movie, I was unaware of his fate, having never heard of Christopher Johnson McCandless before. And I kept hoping for his salvation, never, ever believing that the life of this brilliant, courageous, beautiful and stupid young man, would end in such ignoble inconsequence.

He died in that bus. Alone. And let me tell you something...I was really pissed off at him.

How would his parents ever know what happened to him? What about the people he touched along the way, who cared about him and whom expected their lives to intersect again someday? Who would tell his story? How would the world ever know that near the end, he had realized..."Happiness only real when shared".

SIGH. It really upset me. Especially after I later found out that there was a hand operated tram 1/4 mile upriver from where he attempted to cross. He would have known that, had he equipped himself with a detailed map, or done a thorough reconaissance of the area.

I don't often react that strongly to movies, but I suppose, it was just a glaring reminder that my own son is poised on the brink of manhood. And though perhaps becoming physically mature, will take a long time to grow into the man he is destined to be. And that along the way, he will make a lot of mistakes, any one of which, could result in him being taken from me.

One wrong move, one detour, one foolish decision..or...even just the whims of fate...could end his life.

My husband almost killed himself when he was 17 years old. He had a souped up Camaro with an engine far too powerful for a smug little 17 year old pissante. He wrapped it around a tree, airborne at 100 miles an hour.

I think when at last he was fully recovered, his mother was sorely tempted to end his life herself.

The stupidity, the invincibility, the sheer arrogance and ignorance and idealism and bravado....God. It's a wonder that ANY of us make it to adulthood.

And now I have to watch my boys do all the foolish things I did. Worse, I have to let them do it. Because if I don't, they will resent me and perhaps, as Christopher Johnson McCandless did to his parents, turn their backs on everything I have tried to give them.

So anyway...I was angry with Christopher McCandless. For dying, for wasting his life, his brilliance and all his gifts, but probably, most profoundly, for making me afraid.

I'm still angry with him. Maybe he was the one who could have found a cure for cancer, or invented a time machine, or brought peace to warring nations. Who knows?

The really disturbing thing is that he is being idolized and deified for his actions. How many young men, intrigued by the romance of McCandless' journey, will follow in his footsteps?

Alaskan Park Ranger Peter Christian has said "I am exposed continually to what I will call the ‘McCandless Phenomenon.’ People, nearly always young men, come to Alaska to challenge themselves against an unforgiving wilderness landscape where convenience of access and possibility of rescue are practically nonexistent. When you consider McCandless from my perspective, you quickly see that what he did wasn’t even particularly daring, just stupid, tragic, and inconsiderate. First off, he spent very little time learning how to actually live in the wild. He arrived at the Stampede Trail without even a map of the area. If he [had] had a good map he could have walked out of his predicament. Essentially, Chris McCandless committed suicide."

Christopher Johnson McCandless's final written words were,

"I have had a happy life, and thank the Lord. Good Bye and may God bless all."

They were written on the backside of a page he had torn from a book. The page contained an excerpt from the poem "Wise Men In Their Bad Hours" by Robinson Jeffrers.

Death's a fierce meadowlark: but to die having made
Something more equal to centuries
Than muscle and bone, is mostly to shed weakness.
The mountains are dead stone, the people
Admire or hate their stature, their insolent quietness,
The mountains are not softened or troubled
And a few dead men's thoughts have the same temper

Damn. What a waste.

Friday, June 06, 2008

Boring Baseball Blather

Allstar Ball is serious business.

I know those of you whose children are still small can't understand. But it's not the warm fuzzy little league ball you see in soft focus Hallmark commercials.

Competition to make the team is fierce. And once you're in, the level of competition is about 100 times more intense than rec league ball. You have to be in it to win it and if you're not, you sit. If you bitch about being tired or hot, you sit. If you're late to practice you run laps. If you miss signs, you run laps.

Like I said...serious business. kid made the team. He's played Allstars before, with mixed enthusiasm on my part. But it's important to him, so...sigh...he plays.

We took last summer off because the coach for the 13 year old team (Pubescent One plays up due to his birthdate) was the same Coach we had played with for two summers, and I'd had enough of him.

Still, I let my son try out, because it meant so much to him. Baseball is his passion.

As it turns out, the feeling was entirely mutual. At the World Series in Charleston, Husband had to take him aside and tell him his behavior was completely inappropriate, because he was throwing a tantrum in the dugout that would put a two year old to shame. He did not like being confronted about his behavior, and so, he punished my child by not choosing him for the team.

Whatever. I didn't care. I was glad not to have to deal with him. But my kid was crushed.

So anyway, here we are again, with a different coach, who is about 100 times more chill. He's a really positive upbeat guy. It's intense, schedule wise. We generally have only one night a week off, between games and practices. But we're all enjoying this season a whole lot more.

This year, I was smart enough not to volunteer to be Team Mom. Again, for those of you whose children are small, I realize you have no frame of reference for what a HUGE job that is.

Team Moms are responsible for fundraising, equipment ordering, booking accomodations for away games and World Series, organizing our home tournament including concessions, vendors (t-shirts, snow cones, moonbounce, etc.) and competitions (Home Run Derby, Speed Pitch, etc.), purchasing spirit wear, sponsor plaques, trophies, team sponsorship banner....and so much more.

I did it once. I will never do it again.

But I did say I would help. The Coach's wife, for those of you who didn't read my last blog post, has an infant and her life is hectic enough.

I volunteered to put together the team book for Dizzy Dean District and State Tournament, and ordering Roster shirts. I may end up ordering trading pins and towels as well, but that's fun.

Trading pins are a huge deal for the kids. Each team designs their own trading pin, which they swap at the World Series. It's a big deal to be the team with the coolest most sought after pin. All the boys get a towel embroidered with their number, upon which they display their pins. They wear the towels clipped to their belt so everyone can see their pin, as well as any that they have available for trade.

So first task was to acquire a birth certificate, a current photo, a copy of an insurance card, and a Consent To Treat form for eleven kids, as well as liability forms, a handwritten team roster in triplicate, a pitching record, and a team photo.

All of this goes into a book which has to be presented at a credentials check meeting prior to the Championships.

Again, it's very serious business. If the book is not in perfect order, the team does not play in the District or State Championships. If there are questions about a player's age or his liability which cannot be satisfactorily resolved by the documents on hand, he is not eligible to play.

But it sounds easy enough, right?


I've been working on this flipping book for two weeks.

Let me ask you, do you know where your child's birth certificate is? Do you know the difference between a copy and an origianl? Do you know what "notarized" means? Do you know what "current" means? Would you enjoy the privilege of having your child receive medical attention, should he be injured during a game?

Wouldn't you think TWO WEEKS would be enough time to allow for gathering those documents?

I would.

And yet, tonight, at the game, I was still begging parents for forms. In fact, I had to go to the home of one player after the game, because the Dad forgot they were needed, like...tomorrow. Forgot, despite the three squillion emails I sent out. AND, I had to take pictures of several of the players myself and then print them out at home.

But it's cool. Because this is just one headache and not a hundred that I have to deal with this summer.

Thank. God.

Here's a word of advice from a seasoned sports Mom...

It takes a lot to keep a team together, so please do volunteer. It can be really rewarding and fun and it's a great bonding experience to have with your child.

But don't be Team Mom unless you have a teflon hide, nerves of steele, and the ability to defy the laws of time and space.

Just trust me on that one.

Wednesday, June 04, 2008

I've Got A Fever Burning Inside Of Me

I have a secret to share with you, but first I must ask you not to tell my Husband.

It's the kind of thing that could really send him into a tailspin.

Can I rely on your discretion? Promise? Okay...

The Coach's wife has a baby. He is 7 months old. Some of you have heard me mention him a time or two in previous posts.

She is a year older than me and the baby was a "surprise". Surprised though they were, they have come to realize that their family was just not complete without him.

He is a beautiful baby and pretty happy go lucky. One has to be, I suppose, when one has two older siblings with hectic schedules into which one must fit.

It's hard to be away from home with a baby, even a happy go lucky one. And like both of my boys, he eschews stroller sitting. He wants to be where the action is. He spends most of the games standing in her lap, jumping up and down. What he'd really like to do is get down and join the big boys on the field and it won't be too terribly long, in Mother years before he really does.

That, as many of you know, can wear a Mom out. So I try to help his Mom by taking a turn or two holding and playing with him.

This elicits very contradictory feelings in me. Sometimes, it makes me very, very wistful and sad. Sometimes it causes a profound longing. But sometimes, it makes me enormously grateful that phase of my life is over. Sometimes it makes me very, very glad that my children can dress, bathe, and feed themselves.

Tonight, poor baby H was very, very tired. But again, like both of my boys, he's not one to miss anything. So he fought the fatigue with everything he had. During the game, his Mom asked me to hold him while she went to move the car closer to the field.

I rocked and swayed and marvelled at how the knack really never leaves a body once it has danced that mother dance. He sang to himself in a way that was so familiar...Diminutive One used to sing himself to sleep that way. I ached down deep inside when I realized I would not have remembered that sweet, insignificant little thing if not for baby H. And I ached to know that I would forget it again.

After a while, his head began to dip and bob, and then finally, lay heavy and warm upon my shoulder. His body went limp in that boneless way only babies can manage.

He slept.

When the slow and steady rythym of his breathing assured me that he was deeply asleep, I eased into my chair and sat with him in my lap, enjoying the feel of his body slumped plumply against mine.

His mother reappeared and asked if I wanted her to take him.

"No...not just yet." I said. "Relaxe and enjoy your freedom while it lasts!" I joked.

And so we sat, the two of us, in the fading light of a summer day, with fireflies flitting about, and the smell of honeysuckle and freshly raked dirt and teenaged boys wafting through the air. I plucked a ladybug from his sweaty head and patted his back when the cheers of onlookers caused him to stir.

I felt a sense of peace. I felt a sense of loss.


And I had to admit...Goddamnit...I miss this.

Remember...Mum's the word.

ADDENDUM: Just so you know, the irony has not escaped me. I know I was just bitching and whining about the children that I do have, and now I'm longing for more. But babies are so sweeeeeet. I never resented my babies, no matter how many times they woke in the night, or how many times they pulled every single book off the book shelf or how many times they rubbed peas in their hair. It's what they're supposed to do. It's their way of discovering the world and their place in it.

A 10 year old who deliberately flouts household rules is not discovering anything other than just how crazy he can make his mother. A 13 year old who leaves a trail of debris behind him just because he can is not trying to find his place in the world, he's just being a pain in the ass.

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

The Elephant In The Room

I hate summer.

There, I said it.

I do not enjoy my kids being at home every hour of every day. I appreciate them much more when we have time apart from one another.

I am the type of person who needs some solitude every day. I need routine. I need order. When my kids are home on summer vacation, there is none.

Also, this eating thing is driving me insane. Someone is ALWAYS eating something. And no sooner is the mess from one meal or snack cleaned up, than another one is in the making.

I can't get any grocery shopping or errand running done. I can't stop for coffee. Well, I can, but I certainly can't sit and sip it in a leisurely fashion while I read the newspaper or a magazine, or just people watch. I can't go to the library. I can't go get my nails done. Not that I do that, really. But if I wanted to....

And of course, I am being begged to take them to the pool every single day. Today I had to refuse because I absolutely MUST do some laundry and some perfunctory housework. But I will pay for that in the form of whining about boredom, rowdiness, and general tomfoolery while I try to get something accomplished.

Lamentably, it is quite well known that I am at home during the day. So where do you think all the kids end up? Yes, Casa de Antagonist.

Fortunately, they have all caught on to the fact that I can't and won't feed them, so they bring their own snacks and drinks when they come. But the fact still remains that I end up with a houseful of 13 and 14 year old boys. They are good boys, they really are. But they are loud. And rowdy. And smelly. Our house is small, so even when they are ensconced in Pubescent One's room, they are very much in evidence.

I have a girls' weekend planned for July. And boy, am I going to need it.

Hats off to you Moms who love having your kids home for the summer. Those of you who plan interesting, educational and invigorating activities. Those of you who picnic, backpack, camp and explore. I just don't have the werewithal or the patience.

Me? I'm counting the days until school starts again.

Last night at midnight, I hollered at my kids not to get out of bed one more time or I would open up a big old can of whupass on them. Seriously. At some point, I need to be DONE being Mom for the day.

Diminutive One was hurt because I said I didn't want to see his face again until morning.

Only 119 days to go.

God help us all.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

More On Faith

So, it seems that Diminutive One has acquired quite a female following.

There is a group of girls, ages 5 to 10, that are siblings of Pubescent One's teammates. There are two little boys his age as well, but they don't attend regularly.

As a result of having to while away many long hours of spectatorship at the ballpark together, he has become quite friendly with these girls.

They flirt with him outrageously but he is completely oblivious to that fact. He is nice to them and very happy to have someone to keep him company. But he doesn't flirt back because he just doesn't get it.

One little girl, who is the Coach's daughter, is his particular friend. They really dig each other in a "My Girl" kind of way. Recently, she had her first communion, and it was a very big deal. As such, it was the topic of much discussion between the two.

One evening, Diminutive One told me that "Abby" kept asking him what religion he was. We've had many similar discussions before, but I don't think I've ever given him a way to explain what it is that we believe, or don't believe as the case may be.

So I said, "The next time someone asks you that, you can say that you are an Agnostic."

"What's that??" he asked.

"Well, that means that we don't really believe in or belong to any one religion the way some people do. We don't do things that religious people do, like praying or going to church."

To which he replied, "Well that can't be good."

Good one, B.A. Let's try again.

"No, it is good honey. Because we like to explore and learn about many different beliefs, and we don't think there is a right or wrong way to worship God. We don't hate or exclude people because they believe differently from us."

That was the end of the discussion, but not the end of his ruminations. Later that evening, he raised the issue again.

"Mom, maybe we should be Catholic like Abby."

"Oh really? Why is that?"

He shrugged noncommitally. "It just seems kind of cool. She got a new bike for her first communion. What's communion?"

I explained, as best I was able, but the concept was a little abstruse for him to wrap his mind around.

I didn't tell him that once, my Father and his parents and his 11 aunts and uncles and all their children, had been staunch Catholics. Or that when my Grandmother decided to leave the Catholic church, she and my Father and his two brothers were all but abandonded by people who were supposed to love them.

I didn't tell him that because my father had a Baptist minister perform my grandmother's funeral service, her own brothers and sisters refused to attend, and the few family members that did keep in touch with him, stopped. I didn't tell him that when my Father's most beloved Aunt passed away, nobody felt compelled to tell him until she had been dead an entire year.

I didn't tell him that Catholicism had made many people in our family bitter and unhappy.

Instead, I told him that whatever he wanted to do, or believe, or learn about, was okay with us.

"Maybe you should ask Abby some more about it. Maybe her Mom and Dad would take you to their church to see how you like it."

He looked thoughtful for a moment and then he said, "Well...maybe I'll just ask for a bike for my birthday. That communion thing seems a little weird."

"Dude..religion isn't about getting presents. It's about believing in something greater than ourselves. You know that, right?"

"Yeah. I know. I just haven't decided if I believe that stuff yet."

"That's okay. I haven't either. But you have lots of time. It's not something you want to make a snap decision about. When something feels right, you'll know."

"How would you know?" he said dubiously.

"Well, I don't know from personal experience. But I've talked to a lot of people about it. And I have to believe that eventually, I'll find something that makes me feel the way I want to feel."

"Oh. Will you let me know when that happens?"

"You'll be the first to know, I promise. Well, besides God, that is."

He rolled his eyes at me, in a manner disconcertingly similar to that recently perfected by his 13 year old brother.

"IF there is a God."

"Yes, IF."

"Mom? Don't all religions believe in some kind of God?"

"Weeeeellllll, I'm no expert, but yes, I think most religions believe in a divine being."

"So..don't you think there might be something to that?"

"There might be, babe. There just might be."

I've written about this before...this feeling that I have that I am failing my kids because I have not provided them with the security that comes from faith. I feel that I am failing them when they ask for answers and I give them only more questions. I feel that I am failing them because I don't know, and kids expect parents to know...everything.

The only faith I can give him is that when he asks questions, I will answer honestly.

I hope that's enough. For now.