Looking Back in the Weeks Before 8th Grade Graduation

I volunteered to interview our school’s 8th graders for a Middle School Graduation video, and jotted down some of the things they shared. I asked a lot of different questions, but what I expected them to remember and talk about wasn’t always important to them. Only a few could come up with a story from Lower School, while I can tell you numerous memories from my own early years. First grade. Third grade, certainly. And Fourth.

Only a handful could remember anything that happened in the news, yet here too, I could talk for hours about how I perceived or even participated in historic events of the 1970s and 80s. And oddly to me, quite a number of “best field trip” moments took place on the bus rides there. The only bus ride memory I have took place in fifth grade, when one of the boys told me I was “gullible,” which I was, but I thought it meant “huggable”, and it made my day.

Funny story:

“We were seeing how many of those little orange slices you can stuff in your mouth. We were backstage, and I was on the floor laughing so hard that I started to spit them out just when an admission tour group came through. I’m guessing none of thosekids are coming here.”

Wisdom you might share with your second grade buddy:

“Don’t stress out. It gets harder every year, but when it does, you’re ready for it. And it’s not that hard, because the teachers help you.”

“Spend as much time with your friends as you can.”

“Be yourself. Don’t worry about what other people are going to say, because most of them are nice.”

Best part of the Washington DC trip:

“It was on the bus ride, and he was sleeping, and his brother and I were throwing cashews at him. And then he woke up, and yawned, and I threw one perfectly into his mouth. He was soooo surprised.”

“Well, one story, I can’t tell you.”

Best day at school:

“My very first day here in sixth grade. I came here and I realized I could be myself. I didn’t have to be crazy or anything for people to like me.”

“They were going to tear the old Lower School building down, and so on the last day of first grade, they let us write on the walls. I remember we were drawing on the bathroom walls. Everywhere. But then we started drawing on the carpets, and apparently, they were planning to re-use the carpeting. So, our teacher got really mad. That was the best day.”

Middle School Dances:

“The dances are pretty ‘cringy’, because there are like two slow dances, and there’s like three couples who dance together, and everybody starts freaking out because they’re dancing.”

“Everybody only has six dance moves, and they just do them over and over.”

“Most importantly, you get candy.”

Something that happened in the world during your time at the school:

“The Broncos winning the Super Bowl.” “The Patriots winning the Super Bowl.” “The Broncos winning the Super Bowl.” “The Patriots…”

“I will always remember the day in December 2012, when the world was supposed to end, and we were all standing out on the field looking up at the sky waiting. And then it didn’t.”

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Sports Memories

My Packers fan asked me the other day what football games I remember besides last year’s Bronco Super Bowl win. That doesn’t count, he said, because you were there. I realized that very few of my sports memories are actual plays, and I do not have a single stat in my brain.

But I remember…

…the first time my parents let me stay up late to watch a big game. The Bullets won the Championships. And as they celebrated, Queen’s “We are the Champions” played, and I was so happy and moved by the emotion of the win and the song that I cried.

…making a touchdown on the 7th grade camping trip.

…screaming until my voice gave out every time my sister swam in a race.

…feeling my heart break for Georgetown’s Fred Brown when he passed the ball to UNC’s James Worthy in a mistake that allowed Carolina to win the 1982 championship game.

…accidently smacking an opponent in the face with my lacrosse stick as I turned around to say something to our goalie when the ball was at the other end of the field.

…decorating the inside of my locker with newspaper clippings of John Riggins, Dexter Manley, Art Monk, and Darrell Green, and getting to miss school to go to the Super Bowl parade when the Redskins won.

…watching as one of the New York guys in my sophomore dorm ran through the halls banging on doors to celebrate the Mets’ World Series win in 1986.

…my husband doing the most funny Village People YMCA you’ve ever seen at a baseball game, so funny I do not even remember what game or which team. But I can still see his grin.

…being at the 2007 World Series cheering for the Rockies with my two week old son.

Since that day, my sports memories mostly come from watching my kids watch games. So I will remember my passionate Packers fan donning one of his brother’s many Falcons jerseys for the Super Bowl game last night, but showing me his Packers jersey and his loyalty underneath.

I have already forgotten the plays in the playoff game two weeks ago when the Falcons beat the Packers, but I will remember the boys’ “truce” for the game and their surprising sportsmanship throughout.

And now, the only thing I will remember about Super Bowl 51 is my Falcons fan lying on his bedroom floor crying, “Why? Why? Why?”

How History Enters the Mind of a 13 Year Old Boy

This morning’s news celebrated the release of ten U.S. sailors held captive by Iran. So when my seventh grade son asked me if I remembered the Iran Hostage Crisis of 1979, when approximately 60 US citizens were held captive for 444 days, I was impressed.

He seems to teach himself things in a stream of consciousness approach to learning, his path twisting and turning randomly as bits of information catch his fancy. It’s a cool way to learn, even if it distracts from his homework.

“I do remember.”

“Well, do you remember that they broadcast the Super Bowl so the hostages got to watch it? I wonder how they did that.”

Of course! Football!

He actually had not yet read the news about the U.S. sailors. The question on this day was completely coincidental. As a football trivia junkie, his reading about the NFL connects him to a broader history. A few days ago, he wanted to know if Richard Nixon was a good President. I talked through his foreign policy skills, China and Watergate. The important fact, it turns out, was that he “was not a good play caller.”

In school, we often use the art or literature of an era as a way to help us understand the past. He uses sports. Reading about past Super Bowls, looking at old photos of athletes and teams and stadiums, and a close following of the NFL timeline all lead to non-football discoveries. He digs into what that event was, or if people liked that President, or why there were hostages, how long they were there, and what people like me remember.

And the next time the Super Bowl comes up with an unsuspecting friend, he will ask, “Did you know that during the Iran Hostage Crisis, they broadcast the Super Bowl so the hostages could watch? How cool is that?!”

 

The Flawed Timing of Fantasy Football

“Can Matt Ryan take a team to the Super Bowl?”

“How could you lose against the dog last week?”

“Why do I keep losing with that many points from Peyton? Is anyone else playing out there?!”

Distracted boys.

Globs of oatmeal on the kitchen table, spoons frozen mid-journey to debate rankings, Super Bowl chances, quarterback records, and fantasy teams.

Lots of 6 a.m. chatter.

“You lost to the dog again!”

“The Buccaneers are going down!”

Missing sports pages.

Thousands of “I just need to check my fantasy team” when they should be…
tying shoes
eating breakfast
memorizing vocabulary words
studying metamorphosis, maps, math and Mesopotamia
brushing teeth
practicing guitar
eating, playing, bathing, sleeping
listening to their mother…

…who wishes that football season and the start of school did not collide like this.

Thanks to the Victor

Last weekend, our Family Fantasy Football League had its Super Bowl – its much-discussed trophy, the ability to choose a special dinner.  Had the dog won, we all vowed to eat bacon for a day. I was gunning for a nice restaurant, anything I did not have to plan or cook.

In the end, however, our 2013 Family Fantasy Super Bowl pitted Dad’s Rockin’ Red Peppers against our fifth grader’s Team Orion. A poor showing this season by the Atlanta Falcons meant the preseason favorite (Fire Spirits managed by our fourth grader and fountain of football knowledge) did not make the playoffs.

Rockin’ Red Peppers had chosen peanut butter eggs for his prize, so of course, he had the family cheering madly for Orion, who promised dinner at the Olive Garden, where the bread apparently “rocks” and Mom would not have to cook.

Peanut butter eggs were concocted by my husband when he gave up carbs. His theory was that if he liked scrambled eggs and a piece of toast with peanut butter, there was no reason not to nix the toast and melt the peanut butter into a warm plate of pale yellow protein. I have since given up scrambled eggs altogether.

So his victory by more than 30 points meant disaster for Mom and three boys who hate eggs.

The morning of his celebratory feast, our fifth grader walked through the house moping that “today is going to be terrible.”

At lunchtime, we loaded everyone in the car on our way to a restaurant Dad discovered that “actually has peanut butter eggs on the menu! Can you believe it?!” Our fourth grader Googled it, but only found an Easter recipe for chocolate-covered peanut butter eggs.

When we pulled into the parking lot of Dave & Busters, the fifth grader asked, “There are two restaurants here?”

When we sat down in the booth at Dave & Busters, they rapidly scanned the menus, “Can we get something else if we eat the peanut butter eggs too?”

Then they fell silent. The fourth grader smiled first.

The fifth grader looked at Dad confused. “They don’t have peanut butter eggs!” Then he smiled too. “And we get to play games?!”

The kindergartener jumped up and down in the booth.

Dad’s victory celebration – a feast of nachos, wings, macaroni and cheese and an hour of video games. No peanut butter eggs to be found.

 

Best Sports Moment in History

Today, in their last game, my son’s soccer team finished the season undefeated.

It was his 6th birthday.

And when he scored his goal, he sprinted straight off the field, shouting joy, and tackled me in front of his team, his coach, his opponents, the entire kindergarten-YMCA-soccer-world.

They say winning the Super Bowl is great. I cry when my basketball favorites win the NCAA tournament. A World Series win for the home team is amazing, especially when you are in the ballpark. A victory at the Kentucky Derby, a gold medal at the Olympics… until today, they were the best moments in sports.

But nothing in all of sports will ever again beat my son tackling me after his goal the day he turned six.

Family Fantasy Football: A Night to Celebrate

Our 2013 Family Fantasy Football competition is at an end. Those of you who followed it know that The Best and Luke Skywalker found themselves in the Super Bowl with dinner and their pride at stake.

Tonight, we ate Froot Loops.

Yes, our five year old was victorious. We each held a Froot Loop in the air and said cheers to the winner before eating it alongside Christmas dinner leftovers.

And the strutting and bragging about 2014 has already begun.

The Best says he will be Better. The fourth place (out of six) winner, who we were trying to teach the art of smack-talking, is already trying to join someone else’s team. The Froot Loop lover and 2013 champion claims he will take the prize again with the exact same players. The dog enjoys the scene, waiting eagerly for a Froot Loop to fall amid the celebration.

The poor third place holder glares across the table plotting his revenge. “You’re going down next year,” our shocked expert says to the rosy-cheeked, know-nothing five year old taking a victory lap around the dining room table.

And me? In last place? Eating Froot Loops for dinner? I am thinking football is not my sport.

Just wait, kids, for March Madness to see what your Mama can do!