The List

With 2 daughters in tournament/travel softball, my social media feed is often full of posts from teams looking for guest players, tryout dates, and tutorials and videos on batting and drills. In addition, there is a ton of advice from collegiate athletes and coaches on how to behave, interact with your teammates, coaches, and family, and present yourself because someone is always watching.

I appreciate all of the posts and would like to take this opportunity to add a few notes on what I, a parent, expect from coaches, because yes, someone IS always watching.

When my oldest daughter first started playing softball on our local recreational team, our goal was for her to learn a new sport, make friends, plus learn about teamwork, sportsmanship, and healthy competition where win or lose she was encouraged to try her best and to have fun.

During her first 2 recreational spring seasons she grew to love the sport and wanted to play in the fall season where local recreational teams were mixed up so that the girls could experience different coaches and play with girls from other nearby localities.

At the end of the registration from there were 2 areas that stood out. 1) Will softball be your daughter’s priority? 2) Comments

The answer to the first is only slightly complicated. While her commitment to her team is a priority, we have a plethora of other priorities that exceed sports including but not limited to health, family, and school. Most coaches understand this, and a coach who does not is simply not the right coach for us.

The comment section of the form was more complicated.

While many parents may not have much to say on the topic, my husband and I had plenty. After spending two seasons, watching and listening to some coaches berate, demean, and yell at young impressionable players who were there to learn not only skills to play a specific sport, but also learn life skills, such as teambuilding, sportsmanship, and perseverance through hardship, our comment section was comprised of a list of coaches that our daughter was not permitted to play for because they exhibited such negative behavior during the spring season.

During her final fall ball, season before making the switch to tournament and travel softball, a handful of coaches were trying to draft her onto their team. One coach pointed out to another, that he was not permitted to draft her according to “the list.” I am unapologetically sorry, not sorry.

Since then, after four years of travel ball, plus my younger daughter beginning to play, recreational softball followed by tournament softball, it has become more of a joke among my friends and our team parent families. When a coach on the opposing team goes “off the rails” at his players or an umpire, we just look at each other, and acknowledge that that coach would be added to “the list.“

In fairness, most coaches that we come across model positive reinforcement and the majority of the games that we play remain friendly. However, there are times when this is not the case and this is my advice to those coaches, who could use a little coaching on coaching:

1. Recognize that this is a game and it is meant to be fun. Of course we all want to win and your players should be putting in their best effort, but at the end of the day, it is a game and like it or not, the trajectory of your life and those of your players is not going to change based on today’s results. This game is not getting her a full ride or you a coaching position to a D-1 school, so chill out.

2. Understand that a players’ best is going to vary day to day and game to game. We all have off days and days when we’re unstoppable. If a player is off, talk to her respectfully or even remove her from the game if needed. But instead of insulting and embarrassing her from third base or the dugout, maybe quietly see if she’s ok or use the mistake as a teachable moment, not an opportunity to dance on her grave. Seriously. It’s not rocket science. It’s psych 101, basic human decency, and the golden rule. You know, the one about treating others how you want to be treated.

3. Take your ego out of the game. If an ump makes a questionable call, go ahead and ask a question. There is zero reason to puff up your chest, raise your voice, or slam your clipboard down. And once the final decision has been made, even if you disagree with it, take it in stride and move on gracefully.

4. And finally, if you, as a coach, feel it necessary to put down players on the opposing team in order to lift your team up, you are in the wrong field. You should be cheering FOR your team. NEVER against their opponents. If you can’t do this, have a seat on the sidelines, or better yet, stay home.

By the way, this same advice can be applied to parents as well. Just saying…

Looking forward to the next several years of cheering for my girls and their teammates!

See you on the sidelines!

Awkward Convos with Kids: The Umteenth Installment, Family Dinner

Me: Ok. So tell me something you learned today.

J: We’re learning about physics in science.

Me: Cool! Can you explain it?

J: It’s all about motion like what goes up must come down and objects in motion will stay in motion unless acted upon by an opposite force.

Me: Right. Like your seatbelt.

J: Or a windshield.

K: Well that’s morbid.

Max: I learned that rotation of mass plus friction equals curve.

J: Like a curve ball?

Max: Yes. In theory.

K-Mad: What’s a boner?

Max: Not anything appropriate to discuss at the dinner table.

Me: I’ll explain it, but I’m just curious, where did you hear that?

K: Some of my friends asked if I knew what it was.

J: This is cringy.

Me: Ok. We’ll discuss those details later.

K: So do you know what it is?

Max: I do.

Me: So what is it?

Max: It’s when a boy has an erection.

K: I still don’t know what that means.

J: It means hard.

K: What’s hard?

Me: A penis.

K: Why would a penis be hard?

J: May I be excused?

Me: Are you done eating?

J: I lost my appetite.

Max: I wonder why.

K: That’s what I want to know. Why?

Me: There are lots of reasons but the main science reason is so the penis can enter the vagina for reproduction.

K: And it needs an eruption?

Max: An erection.

J: The eruption comes later.

K: I’m really sorry I asked.

J: We all are, K-Mad.

Max: Soooo I’m just gonna clear the table and pretend we only discussed physics and not biology tonight at dinner.

J: We all are, Max. We all are.

Convos with Kids: Old School

The scene: Malt Shoppe

Young server to Max: Excuse me sir, but you need to remove your hat when inside this establishment.

Max complies.

Max, after thinking about it: Mom? Why do I need to take off my hat but Jordyn and Kennedy don’t?

Me: That’s a great question! It has to do with some very old school rules on etiquette and manners. Men had to remove their hats when entering a building and women didn’t. I’m honestly not sure why or when it originated. We should look it up.

Max: Well I don’t think it’s fair.

Me: I honestly don’t disagree with you. In fact, when I was in high school, my teacher made a guy in my class remove his hat but not me. They got into an argument over fairness and he wound up getting a detention for arguing with the teacher. I felt horrible even though it wasn’t my fault.

Max: Yeah. But you probably should’ve taken off your hat too. But that still doesn’t make it fair or change the rule.

Kennedy: Well, ya know, boys can go topless at the pool and girls can’t do that so that’s not really fair.

Jordyn: But would you really want to be topless?

Kennedy: No. I don’t want anyone to see my nickles, but why is it ok if boys show theirs?

Max: Maybe it’s because boys don’t make milk in their breasts.

Jordyn: True. True. But usually only moms with babies make milk. Like our mom stopped making baby milk because we don’t need it anymore.

Max: Good point. So why do boys even have nipples?

Kennedy: Maybe it’s just for decoration.

Jordyn: Maybe it’s so they look more like women.

Max: Maybe the next level male people won’t even have them.

Jordyn: Mom, is that possible with evolution?

Server, approaching carefully: Um, can I get you anything else?

Me: An expert in history and evolution?

Convos with Kids: Parental Guidance

The following conversation took place at a family event while the other adults sat across the table, enjoying their own conversation…Thanks for the help…

Max: I’d really like to see that movie Little

Me: You mean the one where a grown up turns into a child again?

Max: Yeah. It looks like it’s SO funny.

Me: I agree but it’s not for you.

Max: What? Why? It’s rated pg13 and you let us watch pg13 all the time!

Me: The “pg” stands for parental guidance. Daddy and I do our best to guide you to appropriate movies. While Marvel and DC movies are pg13, we think you’re ready for the content. The content in the movie Little is a bit too mature for you, so no. You can’t watch it yet.

Max: Then can I see Deadpool? It’s a Marvel movie.

Me: Absolutely not. It’s rated R and the content is 100 percent not appropriate for you.

Max: Is there kissing?

Me: More than kissing.

Jordyn: Like sex?

Me: Yes. And horrible language, and a ton of gory violence.

Max: Like the f word?

Me: Worse

J: Like s-h-i-t?

Me: Way worse

J: Worse than h-o-e?

Me: Yes. And how do you know that word?

J: From Penelope*

Me: Do you know what it means?

J: Penelope said it’s when a girl has sex with a lot of different boys. Like if Amelia* had sex with Griffin* and then with Adam* and then…

Max: Or it’s a tool. Like for digging in the garden.

Me: It is a gardening tool. And yes, Jordyn, that is a terrible name to call a girl who behaves that way. Name calling is never ok. And besides, while you may not agree with her choices, they are hers to make. She is in charge of her body, just as you are responsible for yours.

J: Is there a word for a boy who has sex with a lot of girls?

Me: There is not a mean word for boys who make those choices. In fact, quite the opposite. While girls are often insulted for that behavior, boys are often celebrated.

Max: Well that doesn’t seem right or fair. I’m never calling a girl that. Girls need to be respected too. Plus, I still don’t understand why anyone would do that a lot.

Me: I’m proud of you for recognizing that, Max. That’s very mature of you.

Max: So now can I see Deadpool?

Me: Nice try, Bud.

*All names of children have been changed to protect the identity and privacy of my children’s friends/peers

Convos with Kids: Condiments

The following conversation is part of a larger ongoing child-driven conversation about puberty and everything that comes with it. We consistently answer all questions with age appropriate honesty and use correct anatomical language. That being said, most of these conversations catch me off guard and are quite awkward, albeit highly entertaining. Enjoy 😉

Jordyn: Mom, what’s a condiment?

Me: A condiment is something you use to add flavor to your food like ketchup, mustard, relish, or mayonnaise.

J: No. That’s not it. You know how I have that book about how babies are made?

Me, realizing she meant condom and not condiment and trying to keep my cool: Yep. We haven’t read it in a while.

J: Well the book said something that goes over the penis and I didn’t get it.

Me: Yes. That’s a condom. It’s a latex cover that goes over the penis to prevent the man’s sperm from entering the vagina. It can prevent pregnancy and can also prevent people from accidentally getting each other sick through intercourse.

Max: So a condom is a penis cover and condiment is a food cover. They’re synonymous!

Me, chuckling: I think you missed the point, Dude.

Max: So then is a condom a synonym with a balloon since they’re both made out of latex?

Me, laughing and thinking back to my childhood when one of my sisters may have made (extremely slippery and highly fragile) water balloons out of some condoms she found in my parent’s bedroom and my father’s subsequent reaction: No. Not even a little.

J: Well anyway, I was looking through the book last night about the S-E-X part.

Me: Okaaayyyy…

K: Mom, does S-E-X spell six?

M: Uh! Kennedy, the number six is S-I-X. S-E-X is sex.

K, upset with Max for correcting her: Well I don’t know what that is!

J: Kennedy, sex is when a man’s penis goes into a woman’s vagina to make a baby.

K: Eeeewwwww. I am NEVER doing that!

Max: Me neither. That’s gross. Besides, I don’t want to have a baby.

Me: Well that is totally respectable and absolutely your decision to make. Your bodies, your choices.

J: So the book said that sometimes people have sex even when they’re not trying to make a baby.

Me: Yeeessss….That’s true…

Max: But why? Why-in-the-world-would-anyone-do-that?

Me: Max, I’m honestly not ready to answer that for you right now. Let me think about the right way to discuss it with you and we can come back to that another time.

J: But that’s what a condom is for?

Me: Yes

Max: But not a condiment.

Me: Correct. Hey! Let’s clear the table and finish getting ready for school!

Convos with Kids: Birth Control

Before sharing, please know that we all struggle in some ways and I am acutely aware that many of my family, friends, and readers have struggled with family planning and pregnancy. I want you to know that I see you and I feel your pain and sorrow with you. I am here/hear for you, in anyway that you may need.

That being said, while I have had my own share of adversaries, for whatever reason, pregnancy (and getting my kids to eat well) have not been part of my own personal struggles.

The following awkward yet honest conversation took place over breakfast:

J: Kennedy, you know you were a fluke.

K: I am not a whale’s tail!

J: No. I mean an accident. Mommy and Daddy didn’t mean for you to be born.

Me: Whoa, J. Hold it right there. I think you need some clarification. First of all, Mommy and Daddy may not have planned to get pregnant with Kennedy, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t want her when we found out that I was pregnant with her. In fact, we didn’t really plan for any of you. You all just happened, and we were very happy when we found out about each of you. We were very lucky that it was so easy to get pregnant with each of you. For many women, it’s not that easy and it can be very sad for them.

J: But weren’t you on birth control when you got pregnant with Kennedy?

Me: Yes. But didn’t you ask for a little sister?

J: Fair point.

Max: What’s birth control?

Me: It’s a way that can prevent a woman from getting pregnant. It can also prevent people from getting sick from each other. Some kinds even keep people healthy. There are many different kinds of birth control but most aren’t a guarantee. There’s still a chance a woman can get pregnant, hence, Kennedy.

J: What kinds are there?

Me: Well, I walked into that one…So let’s start with the basics. First, there’s a condom.

Kennedy: What’s a condom?

Me: A condom is something that goes over a man’s penis and catches his sperm so it can’t go into the woman’s vagina.

Max: Cool. But I don’t have sperm yet.

Me: That’s true. But you will when you’re older.

Max: Well I’m not sure that I want my penis in someone’s vagina. Even when I do have sperm.

Me: Well that’s excellent. But should you change your mind, please talk to Daddy and me about it first.

Max: Ok! But not today.

Me: You got it.

J: Is that what you and Daddy used? That conga thing?

Me: No. A conga is a type of dance. A condom is the word you’re looking for.

Max: Con-dom… that’s like condominium! Do you hear it? Condom-indium. Do you think that’s the root word?

Me: No idea. We’ll have to look it up.

J: So what were you and Daddy using?

Me: I was taking birth control pills. It’s a medicine that a woman can take everyday. It tells her ovaries not to release an egg.

J: So your ovaries didn’t listen?

Me: Well, there are different kinds of pills with different medicines, depending on what your own body needs. I was switching from a pill that was safe for women who breast feed to one that was for those who don’t, since I had stopped nursing Max. It takes time for your body to adjust to new medication and that’s when Kennedy came to be.

Max: I really miss breast feeding.

K: I do not. But I do wish Mommy would by chocolate milk. That’s the best! Even the almond kind.

Max: That is an excellent point, Kennedy!

K: Well fank you, Maxwell.

J: So are there more kinds of birth control? Like how do you know you and Daddy won’t have any more babies?

Me: There are lots more kinds. We know because after talking about it for a long time and deciding it was the best decision for our family, Daddy had an operation that prevents the sperm from getting into my body. It’s called a vasectomy.

J: How does that work?

Me: A doctor cuts the tube that connects the testicles to the urethra so the sperm can’t come out.

J: So you can still get pregnant but Daddy can’t make babies?

Me: Yep. Pretty much.

Max: That’s ok. You can still adopt me a 17 year old brother. I’m ready. And I can show him how I can fart with my armpits like this!

Laughter ensues and life goes on…

Awkward Convos with Kids: A Natural Continuation

The following conversation is a natural continuation of previous conversations we've had with the kids regarding human bodies, reproduction, and how it all fits together. These conversations each begin with child lead curiosity and are followed by age appropriate discussions using honesty, real words for anatomy, and answering their questions, no matter how awkward or uncomfortable it may be.

This is not the first conversation we've had on the matter, and will not be the last. We believe in education over ignorance and communication over silence.

That being said, this is what I woke up to this morning:
Continue reading

Redefinition #24.7.365-7.11: Headbang

Headbang: verb

That moment when you’ve spent the day accomplishing every tedious task on your to do list including but not limited to laundry, dishes, vacuuming, dusting, taking out trash & recycling, straightening out the damn rug that’s always lopsided and actually gorilla gluing that shit to the pad underneath, finally changing all closet knobs in kid’s rooms because one has been broken since you purchased the house in May, showering and putting on real clothes and maybe some makeup, spending 1/2 hour on hold waiting to speak with IKEA customer service to find out if an item could be placed on hold until your husband arrives because he is driving from one IKEA to another because he’s not very good at planning ahead in his personal life {with a few exceptions that may or may not be explained in another post} and he’s actually quite surprised that the one item he wants isn’t available THE WEEK OF CHRISTMAS and his honest surprise doesn’t surprise you at all, but IKEA is a first come first serve store and shipping on that item costs 4x the price of the actual item so he drives to the next state and next IKEA with your 4yo while you continue to meal plan and make a shopping list for the upcoming holiday that you are hosting, cook dinner, set dinner table, get child’s CCD costume ready for the play that you just learned about this morning even though the play is tonight and you’re the parent from the other faith of your interfaith marriage, text fervently with class parents from public school trying to figure out if you were supposed to do anything for the class winter party or if there is even a party since the class parents haven’t mentioned anything about the supposed party that is on the calendar for tomorrow but your children have said isn’t happening due to “too many allergies” in the class, take a deep breath, wrap and hide all gifts for the next round of “holidaze”, clean up, realize you actually got it all done and are ready to celebrate but just as you’re leaving to go pick kids up from school, the doorbell rings and you see yet another package from UPS that contains things that need to be wrapped while your husband backs into driveway with 2 IKEA boxes in the trunk that will need to be assembled…

 #soclose #nicetry #bangsheadonwall #holidaze

(This #redefinition brought to you by P&BS {Parenting & Baloney Sandwiches} and sponsored by Murphy’s Law Firm, the only firm you can count on for true accountability.)

CWK #247365711: The “Playground”

Lady J: Mom, can we play on the beach playground?

Me: What beach playground?

Lady J: You know… The green and brown one. It’s right on the beach. The one with the climbing things and tunnels.

Me: There’s no playground on the… Wait, you mean the drainage pipe? Sure… Why (the heck) not. (I feel like getting berated by complete strangers as to how I should raise my children anyway.*) Let’s go!

Lady J: Thanks, Mom! You’re the best mom we’ve ever had!

(That last part always amuses me, no matter how many times I hear Lady J say it…)

*It should be noted that I was only berated by one complete stranger as MY children happily played on the “playground”. But that’s for another post at another time…maybe


Oh Sh*#! 8.7.14

While watching The Goonies as I cook dinner, Lady J enters the kitchen and whispers, “Mom, what does shit mean? Because Chunk says it a lot in the movie. Like, a lot, and I just don’t know what it means.”

All I can think is, “Oh SH*#! This is the beginning of the end.”

From her tone I can tell she knows it’s not an appropriate word, and my initial thought is to respond harshly with the standard, “We DO NOT use that word. It is a bad word and I don’t EVER want to hear you say it. Understand?”

But a flash from my own childhood played in my head. I was standing at our front door, maybe around 8 years old. I asked what the word Hell meant. It was an honest question that I really didn’t know the answer to. I have no idea where I had heard it and I had no idea that it was an inappropriate word to use. So I asked. The reaction I got was less than explanatory, though I never said it again in front of my parents, as a child.

So I take a step back and answer her with honesty, “It means poop. But it’s not a nice word and you are not allowed to say it. It’s rude.”

“Is it like ‘hate’ and ‘stupid’?” She questions with translucent innocence.

“Yes,” I reply.

“Okay. Then I won’t say it. But Mommy?  Chunk says it a awfully lot of times when bad things happen that are also silly. It’s kinda funny. He kinda says it like when you say ‘oh dear’ or ‘oh my goodness,'” she chuckles knowing she nailed the context usage.

“Oh poop,” I mutter, “Here we go.”

She exits the kitchen quietly giggling, “Oh poop…”