Tuesday, February 1, 2011

O-Mom Angers Soccer Community, "Give Sleep A Chance!"

Perhaps I'm just being bitchy... I'm open to that. Seriously, I am. But, I don't think it's me (this time). 

My daughter wants to play soccer this season and I'm holding out. I won't commit until they can tell me when the damn practices are going to be. This isn't about finding ways to balance her sports with my coaching business, conflict with other sports, or even going to church. 

This is about sleep. 

Frankly, I don't trust that these people have my child's best interest at heart... at least regarding sleep. Many of the girls who will be in this team are just wrapping up a season of indoor soccer, which means that it's the same parents, leadership, etc., and I have a major problem with their game schedule. For example, I understand that tonight there are games at 7:30 and 8:30 pm. Thirty minute games at a venue that is thirty-minutes from home... at BEST, we are looking at 6th and 7th grade kids getting in bed at 10:00 pm. By at best, mean that they walk out the door immediately following the game, drive directly home, brush teeth, climb in bed and go directly to sleep. 

I don't know about you but there's almost always some kind of wrench waiting to be thrown into a plan like that at my place - like a need for food after playing two soccer games. Or how about a shower? Also, how easy is it to fall asleep within an hour of having a crazy good time, running your ass off with all of your friends. Those things are only part of the problem. These children have to be in their desks, alert, and ready to learn at 7:25 am. Mine get up at 6:00 am, before the sun even comes up, and I know many others who wake even earlier because of long bus rides. 

Are you following me? I'm grown and because I get up at 6:00 am, I strive to go to sleep at 10:00 pm. If I'm asleep by 11:00, I'm pretty solid for the next day. I don't always get it, but that's what I strive for and more than any other time in my life... I feel good. I have enough energy to function well, without caffeine or nicotine or loads of sugar to keep my energy up, for the entire day. Again... I am grown. I have these big girl pants that help me remember what's on the line when I want to stay up and play. And when I choose to do that, these same big girl pants remind me that I still have to be functional. Because I'm grown, I have the tools to do that.

My daughter is ELEVEN years old and sleep experts says she should still be getting ten to eleven hours of sleep each night. At THIRTEEN, my son still needs nine to ten hours a night. Do the math people, it isn't enough! My kids go upstairs at 8:00 pm to get ready for sleep and read. Lights are out at 9:00 pm. Even my kids, with my seemingly crazy obsession with sleep, are only getting nine. 

I can see it in them, especially when soccer season starts up. They are dragging ass in the morning. My son occasionally tells me about falling asleep in class. Sleep is a truly critical part of our body's cycle and many, many people (young and old) in this country are SUFFERING because of the effects of sleep deprivation. I am a Life Coach and I can tell you that sleep deprivation is a huge problem for 90% of clients when when we first start working together. Don't you watch the news, we are an obese, sleep-deprived nation. This is part of our national crisis. And NO, I'm not being dramatic. This is real.

I found this fabulous article about adolescents and sleep deprivation, and have summarized some of the findings here. It is my intention to shock you into some sort of concerned state.

Sleepy people screw stuff up - Traffic accident research has shown over and over again that sleepy people are more prone to accidents. They wreck cars, which my kids don't drive yet, but they do drive bikes, skateboards, and FEET and they need to be functioning at the top of their game to keep from darting out in front of a car to get their soccer ball. They are mature enough to operate equipment in my house, like the stove and oven... do I want them doing that while stoned from their soccer exhaustion? It makes since that sleepy kids would be more likely to be injured around the house - bumping their heads or loosing their footing on the stairs - and when playing sports because that's the meaning of more accident prone. Their bodies are not equipped to react well to what's going on. 

Sleepy people look stupid - Sleep deprivation affects their performance in school. I'm not going to water this down for you. THINK about the impact of this. Your kid is sleepy, so her grades slip. She tries harder, and gets more sleepy, so the grades slip more. The implications on her self-esteem alone are TOXIC and the impact will be life-long. She will never be able to make sense of the fact that she was too sleepy to perform well in school... she's simply going to assume she's stupid. This is huge, people. Wake up.

Sleepy people are more moody - Let me just review the ways that less sleep affects one's mood: More of the "negative" emotions (anger, sadness, and fear), more depression, more difficulty controlling emotional or behavioral problems, inability to focus, increased impulsivity, and problems staying still or completing tasks, (resembling the symptoms associated with ADHD... and dramatically increasing the symptoms in those who actually have ADHD, by the way), more misbehavior and aggressiveness. Are these things you want amplified at your house? No thanks, we're good here!

Sleepy people get stoned - Now, I simplified the points above but this one you're going to get word for word from the researchers... "Teens who get less sleep than they need also have a higher likelihood of drug use (Carskadon, 1990). This is not limited to stimulants, alcohol use is also more prevalent among teens who report getting less sleep than their peers. Alcohol can facilitate "unrestful" sleep; sleep which has an inhibited REM phase and therefore leaves users exceptionally tired even after a night of sleeping. Stimulants such as caffeine or nicotine over long periods of time not only create a dependency on the substance in order to but can also significantly affect the quality of sleep. Caffeine is in fact a psychoactive drug, though we rarely realize it, and the rate at which teens are becoming dependent on caffeine during their days is an alarming indication of underlying sleep problems." This is HUGE. The reason that we are all doing all of this stuff for and with our children is so they will not turn to this crap... sleep HAS to be a priority.

I want my kids to be safe and make good choices. I want them be smart and perform well in school. I want them to feel happy and peaceful, to behave, and focus on the things that matter in life. I don't want them to get drink, smoke, do drugs, or become dependent on caffeine. I think it's safe to assume we all want the same thing... so let them freaking sleep. 

If we care about these kids, which we all claim to do when we organize extracurricular activities, then we MUST stop setting them up to fail. This isn't a one time thing, this is their soccer schedule for three months! Yes, my daughter is going to be pissed off if I don't let her play, if the practices end at 8:00 pm or later. What I want to know is... why aren't everyone else's parents pissed off? Wake up! 

The article I referenced is, "Sleep Deprivation and Adolescents: What Are the Long-Term Effects of Sleep Deprivation and What Are the Repercussions of Sleep-Deprivation in Adolescents?" by Damon Stea. I found it here: http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/444311/sleep_deprivation_and_adolescents.html?cat=5

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It Might Start with the Violence of Thanksgiving Day

Sometimes the wife and I team up to help with the children's homework. Last night it got hilariously out of hand…

I posted on Facebook:
Damn. I suffer with the 6th grade poetry homework. Anyone want to come help her? I can't take it. 
We need poem about Thanksgiving with a title, 2 stanzas with 4 lines each, 1 metaphor, 2 similes, 1 personification, and imagery. This is torture. Why can't they ask her to write a self-help book?
She is writing it and we seem to differ on our respective understandings of the basic concepts of metaphor and simile and personification. It can be non-rhyming, but she isn't really handling it very well. She is writing these rhythmic lines and plugging in whatever last word she wants because it doesn't have to rhyme. I'm dying here.
I'm such an O-Mom.
The love of my life replies, from her office upstairs where she is supposed to be studying, with the following series:  

A day for turkey, as tradition demands
Not tofu or soy, only birds in the plans
Poor turkeys in corners shivering with fear
As the feast, like a racecar, rolls ever more near

Tradition, tradition, the American machine
Its gears chewing up the humane and the "green"
We fight here like mad dogs, all caught in the fray
It might start with the violence of Thanksgiving Day
Or were you looking for something a little, um, "warmer?"
I title it "The Annual Bloodletting."
Subtitled "Happy Holidays."
I got your Norman Rockwell right here...

I howled and wept and eventually gathered myself enough to reply: 
You are the best wife... ever. Period. The rest of you divas just lost your status. Sorry.

The best part? Tonight, it's haiku homework. My wife thinks in haiku… that's owesome.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Warning: Don't Eat Real Sauge!

Is there anything more pleasurable than a lazy phonetic speller? I think not.

The 11 y.o. girl child spells it like it is... well, almost like it is. She once wrote me a note and called me Cwen Christy. I enjoy this vision of me, the queen of my world, with the crown on my head sitting just a little crooked. It's certainly true... only it's off a bit. I think it's not such a stretch.

So, the phonetic speller thing makes for big fun here at the house. I've saved homework assignments, love notes, and grocery lists that look as cryptic as FBI's secret code: 

toylt papr

Of course, when I'm at the store (wondering what in the hell I'm supposed to buy) I must remember to sound out the words. Naturally, her intention is perfectly clear. 

The problem is the lazy streak that occasionally rears its ugly head. Perhaps it's an impatient streak... she spares no time for double checking! Other times, I suspect straight up arrogance, she simply couldn't be wrong. Why bother with all this second guessing. 

I submit to you Exhibit A: 

My son is the lone meat eater in a house full of vegetarians and recently, I found this note on a container of leftovers in the fridge. He cooked "real" meat and my daughter was, it appears, concerned that my wife or I would mistake the leftovers as our ready to eat faux meat products. 

Where else in the world can a woman discover (in her own kitchen) a container of leftover pork sausage links with a sticky note warning that reads, "Don't eat real sauge"? 

That's so freaking owesome!

Friday, October 8, 2010

O-Mom Confession: I Play with Their Minds.

Every now and then I have an idea that is just twisted.

I'm not sure where these things even come from and the worst part is that I crack myself up. Last night, I saw this commercial for Disney Vacations.

The boy-child said, "Dude... that's awesome."

I'm a little ashamed to admit that my first impulse was to torture the children. My mental movie played in fast forward:

Scene 1: The children, the wife, and I are watching the commercial. For a couple of weeks, the children go on and on about the idea of us surprising them with a trip to Disney.

Scene 2: Nine months later, we wake them up before the crack of dawn, put them in the car, and drive for hours, refusing to answer questions about our destination. Finally, I make them put on blindfolds, arrive at the secret destination, get them out of the car, and just when they are certain it's going to reveal we've arrived for our super-secret Disney vacation, I announce that we're doing a 5 day spiritual retreat - lots of yoga and meditation, reading and writing. Oh, and it's a silent retreat. Their faces distort in just such a way, as to earn them new pet names... Shock and Awe.

Scene 3: Next, the movies flashes through a dozen or so scenarios where we employ the message-inside-a-pizza-box technique to announce exciting family news - "Haircuts for Everyone!" and "Laundry Day!" and "Sugar-Free September!" With each experience they grow more and more annoyed... eventually, it's so ridiculous that they start to have fun with the pizza box, too - "Soccer games all weekend!" and "Back to school shopping!"

Scene 4: We pack everyone up again, but this time only drive across town. It's a good couple of years into my twisted game, it's early in the morning, and they are not amused. Mom, this isn't funny anymore. You said it's not nice to tease.... Seriously Mom, I've got stuff to do. Can we just go home?

Standing in airport lobby, we invite them to remove the blindfolds and hand them a perfectly wrapped gift box.

Girl-child: Great, what's this? No, let me guess... an invitation to my graduation?

Boy-child: Tickets to a chess match?

Me: Go ahead, open it.

Boy-child: No wait... (to his sister) I bet it says we're going to Disney World.

They roll the eyes and laugh a little. Reluctantly, they unwrap into the box, open it up, and look inside

Of course, there are airline tickets for the four of us and a picture of Mickey Mouse.

Speechless. Frozen. Eyes darting from me to my wife and then each other.

Finally, we confirm.

They freak out.

Movie closes with this image:

Sick. Twisted. I know about it.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Middle School Rules

This afternoon I got a facebook message from a friend who lives in my community:
"Hey Christy - Now I'm coming to you for input.......(my oldest), like Kira, is starting FMS this year.......he's excited.....I'm very nervous and unsure.......any tips or advice I need before letting him go off in to the big world of middle school."
I replied: 

Off the top of my head...
1. Make sure he goes to the pool party Friday night for the 6th graders from all three feeder schools. You won't be staying.
2. Drop him off at the curb on the first day. You won't be staying.
3. Ask lots of open ended questions once he starts going school to get info out of him, as it will be harder and harder to get info out of him.
4. Be involved, even if he doesn't seem to like it.
5. Activities - sports, academic clubs, arts - if he isn't already involved or planning to be involved, encourage him to do it. It seemed to really help Seth a great deal to have a group of kids that he got extra close to. He's going to get an identity for something, it might as well be a sport or as an artist or something good, right?
6. You are not going in. Really.
7. Tell him it feels odd to you, you're not really sure how to act. He is getting older. He needs you a little less. This is new for both of you. It will help him recognize that those things all apply to him also. He will like the idea that he's got something to offer you... how to be a cool middle school mom.
8. Once he's involved with something, find out how you can help with that thing. For Seth that was soccer, and I volunteered to be the team coordinator and photographer. This allowed me to connect really well with the coach and ALL of the other kids in his little micro world (who were all completely digging me because I was taking bad ass pictures of them) and their parents, without it feeling like I was tagging along with him.
9. Tell him how awesome you are. He will forget to notice. So, tell him, "It would be socially appropriate for you to tell me I'm awesome right now." I use this every once and a while when I drive him to school without complaining that he missed the bus or even without him asking (like when it was sub-zero or he had a ton to carry.) I smile that knowing mother smile. He sheepishly says, "Thank you." We get on with our day.
10. You're not going in... just stay in the car and let him slam the door and trot off into that big ol' foreign building without you. He probably won't even look back... it's okay. He's already fine and you will be, in about fifteen years.

I wanted to post this little exchange for anyone else who wants to know how we (what that really means is 'I') survived the first year of middle school. If you haven't been paying attention, it was a doozie of a year and my kid rocked it.

I rocked it, too, thanks to the kind women running the above referenced pool party last year when Seth was a rising sixth grader. Their PTO table, covered with Fairview Middle School paraphernalia, was planted firmly across the sidewalk leading into the pool. They took my kid's cash and told him to go on in and have a good time.

I just stood there, while he bolted off into the festivities, wondering when he'd acquired that middle school swagger... finally I said to one of them, "I'm not going in, am I?" She smiled that knowing smile and said, "No, you're not going in. He'll be fine." I said, "Obviously, he's fine. What about me?"

We chatted for a while and then I said, "Okay, so what about the first day of school?" She said, "You're not going in." I said, "Really?" She said, "Really." I said, "He's got all of those school supplies... they won't even fit in his backpack?" She said, "You are not going in."


Friday, May 21, 2010


Watch and listen.

These boys want to remember their friend and teammate, Jake Gibbs.

They want to build two concrete memorial benches on the soccer field shared by Fairview’s Middle and High School teams. The project is pending school system approval, and a budget from the supervising contractor.

They will need money for materials.

Please help.

To learn more about the Jake Gibbs Memorial project, visit www.FairviewSoccer.com

Thank you.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

O-Mom Parenting Solution Number One: Don't Be That Girl (or Guy)

These women took the Easter sacrifice thing to a whole new level. They gave their freedom... for Easter candy.

Straight from The Salisbury Post...

Brawl erupts over Easter candy
Tuesday,  April 06, 2010 12:00 AM
Staff Report

Police aren't sure whether Walmart's prices were so good or if there was a shortage of chocolate rabbits. Whatever the reason, seven women ended up in a brawl in the Easter basket aisle Saturday evening. Candy eggs, rabbits and Peeps flew through the air in an unlikely Easter exchange.

Property damage, primarily to candy and Easter decorations, totaled nearly $800. Salisbury Police responded to the Walmart at 323 Arlington St. around 7 p.m. Saturday. The five officers separated the women into two groups — with each claiming the other group started the fight.

Unable to figure out who initiated the brawl, officers decided to charge all of those involved in the incident with public affray. Those charged, whose ages range from 17 to 24...

I removed the names of the women involved because... well, even when it seems reasonable, I am not all that into shaming people. I do, sometimes, find sharing - for the good of the masses - simply irresistible.

Introducing O-Mom Parenting Solution Number One:

Don't Be That Girl (or Guy)

Don't Be That Girl (or Guy) Parenting Solutions began one hot summer afternoon a couple of years ago in a local ice cream shop, as my impressionable young children and I enjoyed our delicious frozen treats. People were coming and going while we chatted and shared the flavors we'd chosen, and I was a happy woman. Then, she walked in... smiling, full of life, and seemed very pleased with her tasty ice cream selection. I'm unclear about when we go from calling females "girls" to calling them "young women," but she seemed to be a perfectly friendly one of those. It is likely that the line gets drawn somewhere around the moment she got knocked up, but perhaps it wasn't until a few weeks after our encounter when the baby in her gigantic belly took it's first breath.

Normally a big ol' pregnant belly like that would leave me feeling warm and fuzzy, reminiscent of the treasured time, many years ago, when I created and incubated my charming, brown-chinned table-mates. My oh-how-I-love-pregnancy-and-natural-childbirth moment was profoundly distorted by the "Class of '06 Rules" t-shirt literally fighting its way across this girl/young woman's baby's residence. The signatures of her classmates, equally profoundly distorted, looked more like a human graffiti art project.

While I completely appreciate the with-child-and-needing-ice-cream thing, I didn't enjoy the reality check. It hit me that my son and daughter were still not old enough to keep from being blue-faced and brown-chinned at the ice cream shop, but they were no longer without the cognitive ability to assess that this girl/young woman was still in school... just like them. They could see that her little friends had signed her t-shirt. They could recall how, just a month before, their elementary school "peeps" left barely-legible streaks of Sharpie on the t-shirts all had been awarded for their reading prowess.

In truly O-Mom form, I said to the children, "If you are young enough to have your friends sign your t-shirt, then you're too young to get pregnant and have a belly like that. Kira, don't be that girl. Seth, don't date that girl... and make her that way."

In hindsight, I might have added a little something about the importance of preserving their high school memorabilia (a.k.a. the peer-autographed t-shirt) with the procurement of some high-quality maternity clothing, should this tragedy ever befall either of them.