The Hat

This is a story about a hat. A hat that was just a simple baseball cap but ended up becoming a symbol of hate. My hate.

It all started when our son told us he wanted to play baseball instead of soccer in spring. Being that neither my husband nor I are baseball fans, we asked our son a number of times whether he truly wanted to play. After answering yes each time we asked, we gave in and signed him up. Spring was looking to be rather interesting.

As the holiday season ended and the new year rolled around, emails came slowly started trickling in from coaches and managers and officials of the league informing us of events to warm up the players and try-outs for the teams. Knowing as little as I did about this sport, I went into it thinking this should be fun! And new! And exciting. I was still thinking this until try-outs arrived and I realized the kids would not only try-out but would be marked down and drafted by the coached sitting quietly on the first base line. They were judging each player based on the skills they showed instead of a blind numbering system that I had known in soccer. Oh man… This mama was not ready to watch her son get judged, even though I understand why. Then realization of how different baseball was from soccer hit me and I had a sinking feeling.

But I brushed it off and went along, encouraging my child to believe that this will be fun and that he only had to stick out the season if he didn’t like it because we didn’t believe in quitting. We worked through things we were afraid of or things that we were uncertain of. While I was speaking to him, I know my words were meant more for me. I was telling myself not to quit and pull him from the possibly HUGE mistake we were making and stick him back into soccer, a sport we all know and like.

Then the final nail in the coffin came, sealing my doubt in with my fears. It came in the form of a parent meeting for all rookie players. At this meeting we were given our practice schedule and our practice location. They also explained our game schedule for the season and all the little tidbits of information needed: expectations, volunteers, events, the usual. My husband attended this and sent me back text messages that made the pit at the bottom of my stomach grow larger. We’d have two practice a week, throwing off our whole routine. There would also be a weekday game (WHY?!) and a weekend game.

So we sucked it up and shook off the initial shock of how much was involved and the scramble that would become our lives from now until the end of the season. And I realized that our son was hearing our doubts and voiced his concern that he’d made a mistake in choosing baseball. That shut us up fast. If he wanted to play, we’d make it work. From here on out, I’d have to silence my concerns and just fake it through.

It wasn’t until the first practice that made me realize how big a of a mistake we’d made. After practice, our son was lamenting how he missed soccer and didn’t like baseball. Oh boy… this was not what we needed to hear. Knowing now that he was only lukewarm to the idea of baseball made us feel even more hesitant. Was this a bad idea? Could we still get out of it? Instead we told him to give it a little bit longer to get used to it. That we didn’t quit things we started but if after this season it didn’t work, then it didn’t work. But, together as a family, we’d make it through this first season come hell or high water.

I only half believed what I was telling him.

By the second practice we were receiving both emails and text messages about all the goings on of this overly involved sport that neither of us liked. And each mention of the team made me grumpier and more frustrated. How could we have been so mislead to think that a family of two working parents could make this work? Who can make 4:30 pm practices twice a week when both parents have jobs?! This was becoming a perfect pitch for multiple wives. More hands, more help. But I digress.

At the second practice, it was asked that all players brought their hats and $25 for some embroidery to be done on them. Well, we never made it due to issues with homework not being finished so his hat was still with us. On Sunday we were reminded about uniform pickup and to bring the hat, too. That way the team moms could take it all in to get stitched and ready for our first games. Come Sunday, we were ready, cap and money in hand. We got our uniforms all picked out and sized up and then we left… with the damn hat. Somehow I had missed the memo that we were to leave the hat. I didn’t know who to give it to or what we were to do it with and somehow my husband didn’t know that I didn’t know so he didn’t do anything either.

So we left. With the hat.

Suddenly I get a message. The team mom realized they didn’t have our hat and wanted us to come back to drop it off. We were already out of the area and on our way to our delayed beach day with my sister, a day that was supposed to be a brunch date but got moved to late lunch when we found out our uniform pickup time conflicted with our plans. So no, we weren’t going to turn around and come back. Instead we made plans to drop it off the next day.

It was that moment that I started to hate that hat. The hat was nothing more than a piece of clothing but it became a symbol of something more. Of our frustration, of our lives slowly being whittled away by a sport that none of us, even our son, was really all that interested in. A sport that he wanted to just try for a season that was now consuming us. My running schedule was being disrupted and my husbands work schedule and gym sessions were being moved around. Everything was changing. Our happy little life was slowly being rearranged for baseball, a sport none of us loved.

As we all woke this morning, the moods were light and fun as we gave each other hugs and kisses goodbye. Everyone seemed to be in good moods. That was until I realized I hadn’t sent the address of our team mom to my husband for the hat drop off. It had slipped my mind. As I pulled up to drop off our son at his grandmother’s house, I sent a quick message containing the contact information to him when I saw out of the corner of my eye the lurking black bill of our son’s baseball hat.

The damn thing was with me. Sigh….

Dropping him off with a quick word and a kiss from my mother, I jumped back in the car fuming. I had to retrace my route and go back home to give my husband the hat so that he could drop it off for us. And this made me 30 minutes late to work. I was not a happy mama.

In a joking manner, I took a picture of me giving the hat the Bird and sent it to my husband for a good laugh. And we did chuckle at it. It was funny and stupid to flip off a hat because you are angry but it also had a deeper meaning to us. This hat, this season, this sport, was slowly becoming everything that was making us mad. It symbolized all of our frustrations and anxieties over how we would pull this off. It was the visible reminder of our big mistake.
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The hat is now in the possession of the embroidery shop that is stitching our son’s name to the back of it along with his name on his jersey. And to add insult to our already tender wounds that this damn hat inflicted over the past two days, we received the schedule for our games. From Monday-Thursday and then Saturday, our lives are now all baseball, the sport we are slowly hating more and more each day. The messages between my husband and I are littered with colorful words and a deep sense of frustration and anger. Anger at the loss of control over our schedules, the inability to foresee how this sport was going to affect us and change everything. And, personally, I think this has opened our eyes to how much we love our lives and how much we love the schedule we had built carefully and meticulously.

For now we’ll have to decide if this is something we can make happen without putting too much strain on our family. We’re also going to have to pool our resources in the form of babysitters, grandmothers, and family members that can be there if we can’t. And if we can’t make it happen, then we’ll at least have the ability to say we tried but it just wasn’t for us.

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Let Me Tell You About The Time With The Fish

Not too long ago, my son and I visited a far away country. The country of Georgia.

While there we saw castles and palaces and churches and statues. All reminiscent of culture and people who can’t, and won’t, be held down.

We also spent time in the company of family. People who had waited many years to finally hold us in their arms and greet us with warmth and love.

During our stay, we were given the chance to experience a large family dinner with many different exotic dishes including baked fish.

We helped set the table while the family cooed over the youngest and newest member of the family. My son, his hands carefully carrying a plate of small fish coated lightly and smelling delicious, made his way to the table while I worked diligently to make room for the food still to come.

“Look, mama,” he exclaimed, eying the rather fishy looking plate in his hands. “Fish! And they still have their eyes.”

Engrossed in the odd looking food, I watched with intent as my son gracefully picked up one of the small creatures and promptly stuck its head in his mouth and bit down.

For a moment I was so stunned and unsure of what I was seeing that everything seemed to freeze in time. Had I really just watched my son, who hates mayonnaise and pickles on his hamburgers, bite the head off a small fish? Bones and all?

He chewed slowly as the realization grew on him that the fish in front of him was actually a real fish with bones and eyeballs. His face turned sour and his chewing slowed to a stand still.

I could read the realization in his face as he squenched up his nose and pointed to his mouth.

I stifled a laugh.

“Would you like to spit it out now?” I asked.

He nodded quickly and I pulled a plate towards him as he evacuated all that was in his mouth. He quietly spit out bones and scales while I poured him a glass of punch and quietly laughed to myself.

“What did you think, Jake?” I inquired.

Shaking his head, he took a long sip of punch as his grandfather entered the room with a look of amusement on his face. He, too, had witnessed my son unassumingly and without concern bite off the head of a fish. We both began to laugh as Jake pushed away the plate with the remains of the fish.

“I don’t know, mama,” he told me. “I just wanted to see what it would taste like.”

The rest of the family entered the room and we quickly retold the story. Everyone had a good laugh and we toasted my son as the bravest of us all.

For only he was brave enough to eat the head of the fish.

 

Afternoons Make Me Cranky

There…

The title says it all.

And I can’t even answer why this is true.

Maybe it’s because the coffee from the morning has worn off or because I forced myself to eat a healthy lunch of broccoli and chicken when I really wanted a Double Double with onions and a vanilla shake.

Maybe it’s because the afternoon is the end of the workday and all I have to do is make it through 4 hours more of tedious busy work till I can get my butt out of the office and go home.

Maybe it’s because I flew through all my work too fast and now I’m stuck working through thousands of pages of credit applications dating all the way back to the late 1970’s. That would make anyone cranky.

No way around it. The afternoons make me cranky and while I’d like to up and shuffle off this weighty cloak of boredom, what must be done must be done.

Sigh…

Just A Little Murder

It happened on a cool, Spring morning. The sun was barely rising. No clouds were overhead. The dusty blue of the morning sky covered the sleeping land with a blanket of chill and crispness. It was time to get up but the land laid still and sleeping as I wished I could.

But the duties of a mother called and I lifted my head from my warm pillow and trudged to the depths of my cool, dank garage where the laundry of yesterday waited. My barely opened eyes struggled to focus on the brown carpet beneath my heavy feet. The stairs dropped before me and I slowly slinked my way down, down, down into the belly of our home.

Upstairs, in his small bed, my son slept on. His parted lips snored gently as his matted head of hair hung slightly off the edge of his train and truck blankets. In his quiet slumber he looked so innocent. So serene.

I should have known better.

Rubbing my weary eyes, I stopped before the door to the garage and reached out to grab the knob when my hand touched the cold metal of the door. I reached back, stunned by the heartless sting of the cold metal against my warm skin. It sent a chill up my spine as I reached again and turned the knob every so gently to open the heavy old door. I was awake now, my senses all on fire and alert to the iciness around me as I entered the bottom level with its unforgiving cement floor and the bare walls.

There was no life here. Just cold, hard forms lying motionless in the bleak air below. As my warm body broke the stillness, I knew I had to get out. Quickly.

Stepping lightly, I padded my way across the stone-cold floor to the dryer. My bare feet ached against the cement slab beneath me and my breath caught in my throat. I had to get what I came for and get out, before I was lost to the biting air.

That when I noticed something was…wrong. I slowly opened the door to my dryer and reached in, expecting warmth and comfort.

Suddenly I drew my hand back! The sickly sight within caught my breath and held it captive. A scream bubbled up but never broke free. The sight before me was too horrid to imagine. Too awful to believe.

Streaks painted the pristine insides of the dryer leaving stains of blood red running down. I stifled another cry of horror as I threw my hand against my mouth hanging agape. I tried to look away but my eyes were drawn to the lives lost in the bloody mess.

They never had a chance. The poor innocent victims of this deadly massacre laid beneath my outstretched hand. I looked beyond my fear and tried to spot any signs of life.

Everything was ruined. Stained and streaked beyond belief. Lives shattered and tone asunder by this wicked and heinous crime! I reached again, turning over the countless victims, trying to salvage something…someone.

Then I knew…it was over. There was nothing I could do. I raised my stained hands to my face and wept. Gone…lost…forever.

As I reached down to lift our loved ones in a last embrace, I heard a tinkering. Something had fallen and hit the ground. Fear raced through my veins. I was almost too afraid to look.

Was it a dismembered piece so violently shaken from its owner? Was it a hideous clue to the crime committed? What was it?

I took a deep, shaking breath and looked down to find…

The weapon of choice laid before me, motionless. Heartless. Taunting me with its innocent look. Fear…rage…sadness…grief…It all bubbled up and I choked them back. This clue, this piece left behind could mean only one thing…

Then, in the din of my grief I heard the small thud of feet touching the ground and the rustling of movement upstairs. A small voice called out for me.

The voice of the accused.

If you don’t know the post title reference, it’s from The Uninvited (1944). A great film, check it out.

A Romantic Conversation

This was a recent conversation I had, something sweet and romantic. It shows all the wonderful and caring sides between this person and me.

A conversation that shows how much we really care.

Me: (itching left eye) My eye itches.

Him: Well….did you touch it?

Me: (still itching eye) Ummm, yeah. Kinda.

Him: (sighs) You aren’t supposed to touch your eyes when you are here.

Me: (scratching out eye) I know….I can’t help it.

Him: (sighs deeply)

Allergies, it’s what brings people together.