Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Thy Kingdom Come ...

My daughter and I were chatting after lunch at a Panera in Virginia, finishing some food before a lacrosse game, when she laid down some wisdom.  As usual, it came most unexpectedly.  After I made a particular comment, she replied, "Well, thy kingdom come, thy kingdom go."

Me:  What do you mean?
Her:  Isn't that how it goes?
Me:  No.  Let's review the Lord's Prayer again.  But can I use that sometime?
Her:  Sure.

I didn't have to keep it in my pocket for long.

Three days later, we were back in Virginia for another lax tourney, but with a different team.

We joined this new team by invitation, and were honored to have the chance to participate in a national championship.  The practices had gone really well - my daughter's Coach #1 said she was top 50 college material and was planning to use his connections to get her recruited.  The team has a major corporate sponsor, and so our only expenses were for travel.  Having just finished a season with our regular club team, which was suddenly mired in bickering and turmoil, this was like a breath of heavenly fresh air.  We even had a cute bulldog puppy as a mascot.

Thy kingdom come ...

Game One:  Here we go.  First game with the team that is going to get us to the top and make us a household name.  Game begins, game ends.  We lose.  Coach #2 brings the team to a huddle.  Coach  #1 yells at the team to get off the field. Coach #2 tells Coach #1 to relax.  Coach #1 disagrees with this directive in a verbally violent way.  Everyone within earshot stares, slack jawed.

Thy kingdom go ....

Game Two:  Game begins.  Game ends.  We lose. Coach #1 comes up to my daughter afterwards "I know you didn't play much, but you are going to start the next game.  You are my favorite."

Thy kingdom come ...

Game Three:  Game begins.  Game ends.  My daughter doesn't play.

Thy kingdom go ....

It is now nighttime.  The team pays for pizza at the pool as uniforms are being washed.  My daughter joins her compatriots in the lounge area.  I sit at the parent table and observe what happens when salad is combined with beer.  My daughter later reports Coach #2's revelation:  "I hate coaching.  I don't want to do it any more.  This is my last season."

Thy kingdom is going ...

Game Four:  The team pulls out a one-point win over a team from Utah. During the post-game hand shake, Coach #1 tells Utah Player #4 "It sucks to suck."

Thus begins SuckGate.  The Utah team takes umbrage to an adult verbally abusing a child, and sends their largest male over to our tent to demand an apology.  Coach #2 complies and delivers an apology to #4. Coach #1 is then approached in a poking fashion to also apologize.  He does so, reluctantly, because he says the girl started it.  Our parents are in an uproar, because Utah #4 was saying "sucks to suck" during the game, and the Utah girls were elbowing and fouling.  They believe the Coaches' behavior is justified and honorable. Prudently, I decide to get involved:

Me:  Yeah, but an adult should never speak to a child that way.
Team: Daggers and hell fire go back to your mamma's teat you worthless traitor.  'Merica.

Thy kingdom is gone ...

So I tuck tail and head to a table at the concession stand with my daughter's best friend and her parents.  As we are sipping on Cokes labeled "Bro" and "Awesome" another team parent comes up to us.  He has approached the coaches to ask why his daughter was asked to join the team but isn't getting any playing time. Their response was that if he didn't like it, he could get the *F* out.  Thus, he and his family were getting the *F* out.

Thy kingdom is in flames ...

Game Five:  We are playing the defending champions and we lose gloriously.  However, my daughter gets time on the field and the team mom/Coach #1's wife exits the stands with a pee sized stain on her butt.  So, it's a win win.

5:36 p.m. text:   Meet in the lobby at 6:00 for team dinner.

We meet in the lobby at 6:00 for team dinner.  All the girls on the team are wearing denim shorts and tank tops, except my daughter and her best friend, who were excluded from the dress code memo.  They receive feedback on their attire for the remainder of the evening.

We leave at 6:30 for a caravan to the Latino Village, which is actually a small yellow building used for the lottery, candles of the saints, and various sundries.  We then get back in our cars and head to Plaza Azteca, who was not expecting us.   Later that night, at least 5 girls, including my daughter and her best friend, enjoy an evening serenading the toilet.  But the silver lining is that Coach #1 paid the entire bill while getting drunk at the bar. Coach #2 did not attend, as he was dog sitting our mascot.

Game Six:  We lose, because karma.

The tournament is over, and my daughter and I return to the hotel. I quickly and expensively change our flight to an earlier time, discover that we are in the "C" boarding group and promptly upgrade to business class.  If you have not flown Southwest, then you won't understand that.  The sociology experiment that is their boarding system preys upon the weak, and should be reserved for another blog.

And that, dear reader, is it. Because my friend Tania told me, "Not sure you really have to have a hook; sometimes, it’s just a report."

Until next time, keep crowin' --- but very carefully ...

Thursday, July 2, 2015


Please look at this photo.  It is a picture of a raccoon riding on the back of an alligator. On its two hind legs.

You may have seen this photo on the internet already and know the back story.  But if you haven't (and even if you have) there is clearly more here than meets the eye.

At first glance, we have a bad ass raccoon that ain't scared of no gator.  He simply needed a ride downtown and this looked like a highly efficient option.  He's got confidence, vision, and a clear path ahead.

However, the truth of this photo is this:  One day, a father and son were out in the woods and accidentally startled the raccoon.  It then scampered away, and by pure dumb luck, landed on the back of this alligator. The fact that the raccoon was not eaten and actually escaped is a Mutual of Omaha Wild Kingdom miracle. (Young people, Google it). What we are actually seeing here is a moment of frozen shock, not chutzpah.

This little internet nugget came and went, but the image still resonates with me.

I think, so many times, we portray ourselves as a raccoon on an alligator's back.  No worries, no fears, life is an easy, breezy ride down the river.  Social media has made it conveniently possible for people to always put their biggest and brightest smile forward.

But when you dig a little deeper, when you ask questions and spend time and squeeze hands, you find out that the raccoon doesn't want to be on the alligator, that it is holding on for dear life, and that it is desperately looking for the quickest way out.

How many times in your life have you felt that misunderstood, that alone, that scared?

It's OK.  I have too. I just don't talk about it.

Pretending to be whole is hard work.  As humans, when we are broken, we often don't know how to put the pieces back together.  We turn to friends, family, food, faith, fountain drinks spiked with a little something - the search for peace takes us many places. And sometimes, we come up empty.

So where do we find sunshine on a cloudy day?  How do we get off the gator's back?

Um, actually, I don't know - I was hoping you would tell me.  

I jest.  But truly, I don't have "the" answer.  What I can tell you is that lately, I have been working on visualizing this:

And don't start singing Frozen ... 

Now, I know that letting go is not as easy as releasing a balloon into the sky.  But it is a first step.  Recently, I have let go of a few things.  I have let go of the belief that I control my children's destinies.  I have let go of relationships that cause more harm than good.  I have let go of the notion that I will actually clean my house. And I have let go of the dream that summer is for resting.

During this process, I realize that I may try to jump back up and grab that string dangling in the air. Because letting go is one thing, but having faith that everything will work out anyway, is quite another.

I'll let you know how it goes.  Hopefully the news will be good.  But even if it isn't, at least I know I'm not alone - or gator bait.

Until next time, keep crowin'!