Michele Minehart

words & yoga

Category: beautiful life (page 1 of 29)

Moms of Little League, Huddle Up

Ladies, come in close and chat. I’d like to toss this out there before the first at bat, so everyone knows I’m not reacting (or over-reacting, depending on the critic). If I mention this now, I’m not pointing a finger at anyone, I’m only tossing it out the wider public. (Also, this is not just for the ladies. I simply know that in 2/3 of American households, the women do the grocery shopping. Gents, you’re welcome to the conversation.)

Now, can we talk about the event showcase of the post-game snack?

First, the drinks. I just have to get this off my chest. We do not need to balance the electrolytes of an 8-year-old who spent 2 hours standing in right field on a chilly May evening. Can we please stop believing the marketing that Gatorade has ingeniously embedded in our psyche? These are not high performance athletes, they’re children. Water! Water is the choice of athletes, even the top tier ones. Water stations are by far more popular among the race routes I’ve encountered.  If you really feel the need to go crazy, maybe a juice box could suffice because at least it came from an actual fruit.

Please, my friends. Don’t be fooled by the commercials. Drinking the fake-sugar, fake-colored glorified kool-aid does not make a kid a better athlete, any more than dressing him in Under Armor amplifies his performance. If we’re going to drink the stuff or wear the stuff, let’s do so in the name of enjoyment and not be driven by this idea that we can buy stuff that makes us into who we want to be.

And also. (Yes, there’s more.) I’m all for a good celebration. Life is precious, so please commemorate the occasions. I don’t think we celebrate (truly celebrate) enough in our culture, mostly because we’re too busy to slow down and savor life’s beauty. So do things to remember significant events – please. This may mean cupcakes or champagne or slightly more expensive attire. Do it.

AND. When something happens twice a week, this is not a “special occasion.” This is a schedule. Your turn to supply the post-game snack is not a celebratory event. It’s a treat the little guys can enjoy, but doesn’t require confectionary genius. Personally, I think a Hostess cupcake goes overboard. Can we try a few orange slices? For those to crunched for time to do any slicing, a whole cutie works just fine. For those Pinterest moms who just need to make it their own, make some sort of edible joy out of peanut butter, celery, carrots, raisins, bananas or apples. Get as cutsie as you wish. But can we all aim for food that is grown, not made in a factory? You’ll spend the same $7 on fruit as you will on a package of snack-sized Doritos.

Ok, team. Here we go: another season. If we work together we can give our kids a delightful experience of chasing catching fly balls, hitting home runs, and celebrating hard work. But it doesn’t have to be a freaking birthday party after every single game, twice a week, for a month and a half. Let’s actually encourage their physical health by filling them with the nutrients they need to grow  instead of the sugar treats disguised as something more.

I feel better now. Love to all. See you at the ball field.

 

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Imperfect Parenting and the River of Goodness

One of my greatest parenting successes has been convincing my children that a trip to IKEA’s “Smaland” is barely a step down from COSI. We treat it like a museum or McDonald’s PlayPlace – an event designed around their fun. (Little do they know, mama is accumulating a cart full of garlic presses and organizational bins.)

So on the Random Friday With No School, I decided a trip would be the best use of our time. JJ was off to other productive work, so all 4 kiddos and I headed to Canton. The lady working Smaland was less than excited to see me (she tried to exclude both my youngest and my oldest, but we easily fell within the height requirements on all fronts), probably because we take up 2/3 of the available kid allotment. They had fun not jumping in the balls, and I found the necessary non-brass light fixture. The kids opted for lunch in the Ikea cafe, so we headed upstairs.

Prior to walking through the line, we had a team meeting to clarify expectations: once food was ordered and on a plate, there was no changing of the minds. Everyone executed.  The line was a tad tricky, and we made it through without tears until we sat down and the youngest discovered that french fries had not come with the meatballs he requested. Mama was going to share, but there was no convincing him of anything. Trading plates of meatballs didn’t work. I couldn’t just take the other kids’ food – I’ve learned this the hard way. You just end up with more tears. The other kids were looking at me, waiting as patiently as possible for ketchup while the baby of the family melted into a puddle on the chair. And in my arms.

It was clear there was nothing I could do to save the day. I was powerless until he actually put some food in his belly and overcame the Hangry. I couldn’t leave him to get the ketchup. I couldn’t get him to settle down.

And then, the oldest took a handful of his fries and laid them on his brother’s plate. The other two kids followed suit. They dished off food until the tears stopped. We were finally able to fetch the condiments without nasty looks.

While I had maintained most of my composure during The Episode, I know my Bigs felt the energy of my defeat and frustration. For the rest of the meal, my oldest was beyond helpful, refilling water and ketchup without being asked. He hugged me no less than 4 times.

In the midst of their mama’s powerlessness, my kids stepped up. They realized that to make the best of the situation, they would all have to come together and help one another. This is a lesson they could never learn if I were to continually make the problems go away.

I can preach to them that we belong to one another or tell them to serve and love using more than their words. These will be quotes on a printable until I give them opportunity to put on shoes and take the ideas for a run. Without the chance to do it, they may never know what it feels like to live their values, which we all know is a whole lot different than simply believing something.

I’ve never felt like a perfect parent, and I’m confident my kids are aware of my flaws, so “imperfect parenting” isn’t just about me and my shortcomings. I’ve heard other parents talk about how in our mistakes we can show our kids grace and the need for forgiveness. But I think accepting our imperfections has wider implications.

To parent imperfectly means to stop filling 100% of the holes for my kids and let them learn how to clean up a leak. I think we should give them a chance to let their heart whisper “hey, go get a towel!” and then allow them to feel the sense of goodness that comes from doing a good thing that has grown from their own place in the world.

What if kids learned to trust their ability to do what is right and good?  What if they learned they actually have the capacity to change a situation, even if it’s only in the enjoyment of a meal as a family? Isn’t that still something worth doing?

Goodness is like a stream running throughout the universe. Sometimes we’re swimming in it, and sometimes we’re not. But I’m not sure the Goodness River is something that you can toss your kids into; they have to learn to jump. As a parent, the best thing I can do is to dive in as often as I can, and assure them that they’ll float when I see them standing on the banks, contemplating a swim. And, as they come up from under the waters, greet them with a smile that shows them how proud you are that they’ve decided to take the plunge.

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Hit ’em in the nose

Several years ago, my dad and his brothers went to a boxing match. It was a kinda-big-deal match and they ended up with seats close to the action (I’m guessing a casino was involved). Not being huge followers of the sport, they were immersed in the excitement, with fans shouting all around them their encouragement on what the fighters should do next. Words like “jab” and “hook” and fancy boxing terms, probably. To join the excitement, and coincidentally at a lull in the noise, my father – proud daughter moment ahead – shouted, “hit ’em in the nose!”

The guy in the ring straight up looked at him.

Since that time, this tale has been told and retold within the extended family and it never gets less funny. Hit ’em in the nose is our solution to dance offs, card games, and toddlers bickering.

Yesterday, a quorum of Wingfields descended upon the Chiller North hockey ring to support the eldest two of the second generation cousins. It was like a circus car watching families arrive and join the group – we just kept coming. Being B’s senior year and last season, we self-determined to make as much ruckus (a family talent) possible.

While our skills at yelling and making a scene are well-practiced, our knowledge of hockey is rather limited. We took our cues from the parents of the kids on the rink, knowing when to be upset about a call or not. Meaning, when cousin Wendy informed the ref of a missed call for icing (which, btw, has nothing to do with cookies or cake, I’m sad to inform you), I simply yelled, “Yeah! What she said!” You know, because I’m there to show support. The 40 or so of us chanted his number and stomped our feet on the noisy bleachers.

Cousin B had a breakaway moment right in front of our whole family, so we were loudly supportive . Get it! Go! Come on, B! 

You know where this is going.

From the middle of our group… HIT ‘EM IN THE NOSE! Followed by uproarious laughter.

I’d like to make a list of things you should apparently not encourage at a highly-physical sporting event of young men and protective mamas:

1. Acts which require you to drop the gloves.

We learned our lesson after there was an incident of shouting, standing, leaning, talk-to-the-hand motioning, and more words. A mom from the other team responded, “that’s my son out there!”

Whoops.

Now, let me assure you, we are not nasty fans. We are hilarious. We were obvious about our love for our cousin and our ignorance of all hockey rules. We really couldn’t name where the other team was from nor did we really pay attention to the fact that another team was even on the rink. It was the B Show, with some other actors. So we were a tad sorry-not-sorry because, really, can you take anyone seriously when they open with cheers and an Arsenio Hall style “woot woot woot”? The only thing we were bitter about was the numbness of our toes.

One of my kids asked, legitimately confused, why the other mom was so upset. My best explanation was that some people believe that cheering for someone means we’re trying to be mean to everyone else. They mistakenly took personally that our love for one kid meant less love for hers. She believed that love and support were in limited supply and when she operated in that mentality, it was clear that her kid was getting ripped off and our B was getting “too much.”

While I love some aspects of athletics, this, my friends is a dangerous side effect. Healthy competition for personal betterment aside, there’s a real tendency to begin to believe the world only works in Us/Them, Home/Visitors dualities.

Support your kid. Cheer for wins, console for losses. Help them get better, remind them of their worth beyond the game. These are good things.

And can I offer a recommendation? For every hour you spend in the bleachers supporting your team, spend at least 2 hours at a table, reminding yourself that we belong to one another. Put yourself next to others, sharing food and passing drinks and remembering there doesn’t always have to be a “them” for you to experience good things.

Perhaps then you’ll be able to arrive at the field/gym/rink in a place of worthiness, able to appreciate that one of the kids out on the rink is having a memorable day, he’s being loved and supported by family from near and far, and you can just be glad for him. Or, you can be inspired and call up your siblings and cousins and uncles and say, “hey, you know, my kid has a game next Sunday, and though it’s sub-arctic temperatures in the rink, the games are free and fun and he would love it if you came and cheered him on.” And you would get to have day that all your family left saying, “that was so much fun, I love my family, and we should do that more often.”

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