It is getting hot here in the Tiny Kingdom, literally and figuratively. As the temperatures have hit the 90’s, baseball practices have become more intense as the tournament approaches. The team has played many “practice games” (which are practice only in the sense that they are not part of the final tournament. Everyone still keeps score, tears are shed and uniforms are dirtied.)
Our team is hosting the tournament this year, which is nice because it means we play on our own fields and don’t have to travel through rush hour for a 6 pm game. Despite the fact that we will be in familiar surroundings, I know that a lot of the parents who are new to Allstars are not prepared for the craziness of the tournament itself. If they think that Coach Rob is hard core, they are going to flip when they see some of the other teams, so I sent out fair warning.
To: Allstar Team
The tournament is about to start, and I have some last minute details. You already have our schedule for the next few days. Coach Rob wants each player to arrive one hour before game time for 30 minutes of batting practice and 30 minutes of fielding.
Please remember that we are the hosts of this tournament. Many people outside the Tiny Kingdom think that those of us who live here are snobby. Let’s dispel this notion. Smile, don’t snarl. If someone looks lost, stop and offer assistance. Be polite. If you really are snobby, please keep your remarks to others to a minimum.
Traditionally the dugout is decorated in some manner. I KNOW the other teams will be decorating their dugouts, based on last year’s behavior. Do not be surprised if other teams show up in identical Tshirts or mount a ten foot long plastic poster with each player’s caricature on it. Do not judge a team’s baseball skills on its supporters’ ability to decorate.
If anyone is feeling arty or balloonish or has a fab idea for a poster (and the materials to make that dream a reality) please email me. My goal is not to create award winning decorations; it is simply to make sure our dugout is not buck naked each game.
3. Equipment Alert
You don’t need to purchase anything else; I just thought you ought to be prepared for the fact that many other teams also go WAY OUT on their equipment. For some teams, it is no big deal for each kid to have his OWN batting helmet. WARNING: often these helmets are airbrushed with lightning bolts or balls of fire and other macho symbols.
If this is going to psych out your player, you have three days to get your own airbrushed helmet. Don’t ask me where; check the yellow pages.
I do have a couple of design ideas: “TCB” with green lightning bolt (make sure you match the green in our uniforms!), nuclear bomb blast with “ANNIHILATION” in Gothic letters, American flag with”America’s Best,” big red heart with “I Luv My Momma” on a banner held up by angels underneath the heart.
4. Anger Management
While the kids have behaved beautifully thus far, I cannot say the same for all the parents. Things are likely to get even more tense under tournament conditions.
You may think we take this game way too seriously given our players’ relative youth. Let me assure you that our team is quite laid back compared to some of the coaches and parents you will see over the next few days. Please realize that each team is different and do not be judgmental.
Thus, if we are able to get an opposing player out, do not flinch if his coach storms onto the field and drags him off by the collar, muttering obscenities under his breath. Similarly, if we happen to beat another team and you are the unfortunate witness of a mother berating her athlete for playing like a girl and then denying him money to go to the concession stand, do not interfere. This is how other people “play baseball.” They keep coming back every year, so they must enjoy it.
Being team mom has evolved into much more than I had originally anticipated. It seems that in order to perform the job correctly, you need a background in counseling. I am also considering setting up office hours in which to take all the phone calls I have been getting.
I can claim victory in one area: no one has even blinked at having the players bring their own snacks and drinks to practices. On the other hand, the season has barely started, I have put a lot of work into the team, and it is not running like the well-oiled machine I envisioned. I blame this mainly on God and Coach Rob.
The weather has been disastrous, so many practices have been cancelled at the last minute on account of weather. The most frustrating aspect of the year so far, however, is Coach Rob’s inability to stick to the schedule.
Coach Rob originally gave us a printed schedule with all the practices and practice locations listed on it, but it turns out that the sheet was a hoax. Some of our practices were to take place at the elementary school field, and I soon discovered that Coach Rob has a deep hatred for that particular field. He believes that it is fine for school kids to play kickball or run on, but it is not conducive to holding the best possible third grade baseball practice.
Therefore, on the days that we are scheduled to practice at the elementary school, Coach Rob apparently spends most of the day calling all the other coaches in town, trying to locate 70 free minutes of field time at the high school field. Coach Rob is remarkably persistent, so he almost always succeeds.
The first time this happened, I had Finn dressed and everyone in the van, ready to pick up two other players and head to the elementary school when the phone rang. I picked it up.
“Anne, it’s Coach Rob,” he said, breathing heavily. “This is great! I got us a practice time at the high school in thirty minutes, so we won’t have to waste our time on that dumpy little field at the elementary school. Can you let the moms know?”
I was stunned into silence.
“Anne?” Rob asked. “Are you there?”
“Yes, I am here,” I said, “but barely. All over town, women are loading their players into their cars and heading for the elementary school field, like the schedule says. The high school is on the other side of town, and frankly, I do not think we’re going to be able to get in touch with anyone this close to practice.”
Coach Rob was undaunted. “Well, I guess you’re right. Why don’t we go to the elementary school and meet everyone and have them take their kids to the high school?”
“I think you’re going to piss off a lot of moms if you suggest that,” I answered honestly. “Most of those mothers have other children they are taking other places after they drop off at the elementary school, and a quick dash across town to the high school is not in their plans.”
“But practicing at the elementary school is like not practicing at all,” Coach Rob whined. “I have big plans for these kids. We’ve got to get them off to a strong start.”
“Coach Rob,” I said firmly, “you have two choices. You can hold practice at the elementary school as planned, which I highly recommend. Or you can meet the players at the elementary school and see if you and the other coaches have enough room to drive everyone to the high school, have your practice, and get them back to the elementary school at the time the original practice was supposed to end.”
Coach Rob was silent a moment. “That means we’d only get to practice about thirty minutes, once you subtract all the driving time,” he said glumly.
“That’s right,” I answered.
“You really think the moms would get mad if I told them to drive their kids to the high school?” he asked.
“I don’t think so, I know so,” I said.
That day, Coach Rob ended up holding practice at the elementary school, but he wasn’t happy about it.
A couple of days later, he tried the same switcheroo again, this time two hours before practice. He called at 3 pm and asked me to send out an email announcing that the practice would take place at the same time, but at the high school, rather than the elementary school. I kept my mouth shut and did as he asked, using the same principle I use with my children: it is better to learn from experience than to have someone tell you something will not work.
My email was brief and absolved me of any responsibility for such a wacky last minute change:
To: Allstar Team
Re: Practice Today is Changed
Coach Rob has asked me to inform you that today’s practice will take place today at 5 pm at the high school instead of the elementary school.
Coach Rob was shocked when only six players showed up at the high school. The remainder had followed the schedule and were at the elementary school. (Of the six players who went to the high school, I drove three and Coach Rob drove two, which meant that only one other mother had independently received the email).
Several mothers called me that night to complain about the deviation from the schedule and to emphasize the fact that they did not have computers in their SUVs, where they lived, and thus were unable to get late messages changing practice times. I gave them a sympathetic ear.
Coach Rob also called me that night to grumble about the fact that he had given what he considered adequate notice yet only half the team had made it to practice.
The “Let’s Get Acquainted” team party is coming up, and I did not want angry moms to bully Coach Rob instead of having fun eating hamburgers and drinking beer.
I decided it was time for an intervention. I told Coach Rob what was on my mind, and the next day I emailed the team.
To: Allstar Team
From : Anne
Re: Practice, Phone Tree, Remarks on male/female differences
1. Practice has been cancelled for today because of rain.
2. Attached please find a phone tree. As you may have noticed, Coach Rob really loves the high school field and hates the elementary school field and feels that our boys practice better at the former.
His decisions on practices are often made without much notice and therefore I am instituting a phone tree to be used if he makes changes to our printed schedule that take place so quickly that notice must be given by phone rather than email. Coach Rob is in charge of starting the phone tree.
3. WHEN is the phone tree most likely to be used?
WHENEVER we have a practice scheduled for the elementary school.
4. Male/female differences and how they apply to us
This is a good time to point out that besides obvious physical differences between males and females, there are differences in the ways men and women think about a lot of things. For example, a long time ago, my wonderful husband Bill failed to mark our 5th wedding anniversary in an appropriate way (fine jewelry).
His thinking, which I am sure the men reading this will appreciate, was that the anniversary was somewhat overshadowed by the fact that we had unexpectedly given birth to premature twins who were in the NICU, and I had been readmitted to the hospital for a postop infection. He may also have been distracted by Clinton’s bombing of an al-Quaeda cell in Africa at the same time.
In contrast, I realized that the anniversary was a special one, (as are all ending in 0 or 5) and I spent a lot of time on the phone arranging for a spectacular present for him, even though the IV in my arm somewhat hampered my dialing.
Bill and I have worked through this issue, and I raise it not to rag on him (for he is perfect in many ways), but only to illustrate how radically different those with testosterone and those with estrogen can view the same circumstances.
How does this apply to the baseball team? Listen closely.
Some mothers have been undone by the frequent changes in the baseball schedule recently. You men should know that women view a schedule as a paper that sets forth the exact time and location an event will take place, and deviations occur only in drastic circumstances. This is because the women have children OTHER THAN THOSE PLAYING BASEBALL and often plan their afternoons in the SUV down to the nanosecond in order to have all ballet dancers, musical instrument players, campers, babysitters, etc in the right PLACE at the right TIME. Even a small change in the schedule can cause the entire carefully calibrated system to disintegrate into a mass of crying children and screaming mothers.
On the other hand, the males, (and Coach Rob in particular) are focused on baseball and baseball only, and are doing their best to ensure that our players have a fabulous experience with stellar coaching and the best facilities possible. On behalf of the moms, let me say that OF COURSE we want that for our players as well and we are THRILLED with the commitment our coaches have shown thus far.
Coach Rob and I have had a little Mars/Venus conversation, and he fully understands the unforgivable schedules under which the moms operate. He has agreed to give reasonable notice (which I have defined as 24 hours) of future changes in the schedule to me, and I will get them out in an email. If his changes are last minute, he will start the phone tree and hope for the best in terns of players showing up on time at the correct field.
If he arranges a game with another team at their field, we’ll do our best to ease the carpooling by having coaches drive the kids to the field so you do not have a surprise trip to Springville sandwiched between ballet drop off and gymnastics pickup.
I think this is a fair compromise and should alleviate further problems.
If anyone thinks the team needs further counseling, please let me know and I will give a lecture on boundaries.
Things are dire in the Tiny Kingdom. Allstar baseball season has barely begun, and already I have had to intervene. Coach Rob is coaching Finn’s team. He is a tall, skinny and hyper coach who wants the best for the kids, but he also wants to win. Very badly.
At the first team meeting Coach Rob’s speech sounded something like this:
Fun blah blah blah work hard blah blah water balloons at practice blah blah practice as often as we can blah blah blah want to be competitive blah blah listen to coaches blah blah maybe a day off every now and then blah blah win win win practice practice…
After he started talking, Tall Blonde Mom and I realized that his thoughts were enthusiastic but scattered, that he envisioned a practice schedule worthy of a team training for the Olympics, and that he would benefit from a person who could calm him, stand up to him if needed, and act as a communicator between coach and parents.
That’s how I became Anne Glamore, Allstar Team Mom, responsible for translating Coach Rob’s thoughts into coherent English and sending them out via email. (Plus, I must admit, I knew I could fend off the idea of after-game snacks if I took charge at an early date).
Dear Allstar Parents:
A. Preliminary Remarks
The regular season is over, so things are really getting cranked up. I take the job of team mom very seriously, so when you see an email from me come across the lines, you better drop everything and run to see what’s up.
B. Practices and Games
1. If you do not have the practice/game schedule, email me and I’ll forward you a copy.
This is EXTREMELY important. Please email me and let me know any conflicts your player has with practices or games from now until the end of June. If only 5 people can come to a practice it is not worth Coach Rob’s time to show up.
** Please do this even if you have already let Coach Rob know your conflicts; he has lost all that information. Let that be a lesson unto you: all information should be given to me.
Here is an example of a conflict letter:
Dear Team Mom: I will not be at practice on Saturday because my Aunt LuLu is finally getting married. My grandmother was about to give up on her. I asked Aunt LuLu to move the wedding until later in the afternoon so I could go to practice AND hand out programs at the wedding but she just laughed. This stinks. Plus I have to wear goofy white pants with a seersucker shirt. And she is making me give out the programs for free, but I am going to set out a tip jar when she is not looking.
Also, my brothers and I sure would like to go to the lake for Memorial Day weekend. I know that the weekend doesn’t really start til Saturday, but my mom likes to leave on Friday afternoon before 3 pm so she doesn’t spend four hours sitting in traffic. When that happens she starts yelling and tells us to look for a store that says “L-I-Q-U-O-R.” I told her that she should just take a gin and tonic in the car, but she said that could get her arrested and then who would fix us EZ Mac and chicken fingers and be team mom?
We leave for the beach June 26 and my mom says she is going whether we have baseball or not. My dad told her to calm down and when she wasn’t around he told me that he and I could stay in town an extra couple of days if our team is winning big. Just so you know.
3. We have an awful lot of practices scheduled. This is because most of the teams we will be playing have played together as a team all year. We will have to work hard to catch up. If it gets to be too much and your player starts to show signs of physical deterioration, let me know and I will pass this on to Coach Rob.
C. Finances and Legalities
The season has already started and we are already hitting you up for money. Here is what you need to get to Coach Rob ASAP:
a) registration check
b) copy of player’s birth certificate
Here is what you can expect to pay soon:
a) about $110 for the parts of the uniform that have already been ordered
b) check to Anne Glamore for $50 for team kitty
We will use team kitty for expenses for whole group – mailbox decorations, team food during doubleheaders, etc. I will keep a list of everything that is spent, and if you spend money for the team (because we asked you to; not because you thought you ought to have a lobster dinner to celebrate the start of the season), let me know the amount and I will make sure you get reimbursed. I will keep track and let everyone know where the money has gone – no Enron shenanigans here.
Coach Rob has done us all a favor by measuring the boys for most of their uniforms and placing those orders. Here is what is left for you to purchase:
b) green baseball socks
c) green belt
Please do this ASAP
* The green is a kelly green – don’t purchase the spring green and show up looking like a flower!
1. Please send your child to practice with plenty of something to drink.
2. In my opinion, each child can bring his own food/drink to games. If someone else feels like team snacks are an integral part of the allstar experience, go ahead and make up a snack schedule, but do not put me on it. I have enough to do.
I propose that we use this year, when our boys are making the transition into men, to wean them off the expectation that they will have snacks and drinks after every game. Derek Jeter does not expect Oreos and a Sprite even after a doubleheader, and I think it’s time we treat our players like the men they are about to be.
More importantly, this will liberate the moms from having to keep up with which game you are responsible for, and how a rainout and subsequent rescheduling affects Chex Mix duty.
F. Great Expectations vs. Fun
Let’s all remember that the season is about learning the game, respecting your teammates and your coach, and having fun. There is no need to yell at umps, scorekeepers, innocent bystanders or Coach Rob if your player does not perform according to your expectations. You better not yell at Coach Glamore either or you will have a Matron of Honor/Team Mom mad at you.
We will be hosting the tournament this year and need to be gracious.
On a related note, please do not stick your nose through the fence during games and tell your player what to do. He cannot hear Coach Rob if you are yelling, “Son! Choke up!! Bat back!”
G. Cooperation and Delegation
I have already gotten the names of some people who are willing to help out. I will be asking for volunteers from time to time. Volunteers do not have to have breasts; penises are permissible but should remain covered. I am an equal opportunity delegator. Thank you in advance for your assistance.
I’ll let you know how the season progresses.
Setting: Master Bedroom, 8:14 pm
Players: Drew and Porter, freshly bathed and clad in underwear and T-shirts, sprawl on bed with Daddy, clad in pj’s. Mom has just washed her face and brushed her teeth and put on her winter pajamas, due to the excessively frigid temperature required by the males in the house. With difficulty, Mom wedges her way onto a tiny corner of the bed between Drew and Porter.
Finn enters, showered, wearing only boxer briefs.
Dad: Finn, have you done your homework?
Finn: (nonchalantly) Not yet.
Dad: Go do it.
Finn: (dawdling) Okay.
Mom: (snuggling with Drew and Porter) You mean “Yes sir.”
Finn: Yes, sir.
Dad: Go on.
Porter: I’ve done my homework. I read “Henny Penny.”
Drew: I didn’t have homework.
Porter: No fair.
Finn: Dad, couldn’t you write an excuse?
Dad: For what?
Finn: For me not doing my homework.
Dad: And say what? That you had to play baseball and ride your bike and didn’t get to it?
Finn: Well, yeah.
Finn: You could tell her I’ve had a lot of baseball practices lately, and games, and that’s made me be really busy.
Dad: Too busy to do your homework?
Finn: (nodding) Exactly!
Dad: No way.
Finn: Why not?
Dad: Do you think Mrs. Zither thinks baseball games are more important than homework?
Mom: Do you think we think baseball games are more important than homework?
Finn: Daddy does.
Dad: (reddening) I do not!
Finn: You’re just saying that because you want to stay married to Mom.
Dad: (very sternly) Son, go do your homework this minute.
(Mom buries her head in the twins’ hair and shakes with laughter.)