Too bad you can’t do that for a living.

I ran into someone I used to coach in soccer today.  It brought back good memories of that time in my life.  I was sixteen when I coached boys aged 8-9.  I did it because my Mom said she didn’t think it was something I could do.  I remember how offended I was at the time, but it’s since occurred to me she did it on purpose.  (She used the Jedi Mom Trick on me more times than I’d like to admit.)  Soccer and Cross Country are the sports I don’t suck at.  I was assigned the position of the goalie when I was six and played it ever after.  The most challenging part at first was paying attention.

The first time someone scored on me, it was because I was chasing a butterfly behind the goal.  I wasn’t even in bounds.  My coach was great because I only remember him laughing at my mistake.  His daughter was my age, so I had him for several years.  He taught me how to play and how to practice.  He told me sports are all about math and the key to doing well is practicing.  (He totally got me.)  I went from team entertainment to a team member, and it did good things for my confidence.  When I first met my team of 8 and 9-year-old boys, I asked them which ones played the year before.  Everyone did.  I remember smiling, half because they were so adorable, and the rest because I realized it was going to be a cinch coaching them.

I coached the same boys for two seasons, then went into the Army.  We won first place both seasons.  They choose the teams by neighborhoods, so I held all our practices at a local park a block from home.  I always started out with stretching, then we’d run laps.  I got cones and balls from the city park system, and we’d practice dribbling and passing.  They were all different sizes, some far taller than others.  But they all had the same sense of humor, which used to crack me up.  Anything gross was golden.  My interactions with my older brothers were different.  It was my first time experiencing the incredible sweetness of little boys.

It surprised and delighted me to discover it.  Children are highly conscious of fairness at that age, as well.  I would ask them who should start?  They would select the boys who did well in practice and neglect those who skipped because it was only fair.  Everyone got to play in every game because that too was only fair.  They all got along so well and were bursting with energy.  I had no idea I would adore them so much when I agreed to coach them.  I’m so glad I did.  I don’t think I ever would have found out this beautiful secret about ages 8 and 9, otherwise.

What happens to them after that age, I don’t know.  I think a lot of damage is being done by telling children how to feel, act, play, etc.  It seems to me a lot of men on this planet had something beautiful beaten out of them when they were still forming.  Not all, thank goodness.  But it makes me sad.  I was happy to see one of my boys all grown up with children of his own.  He gave me a hug, which I’m thinking means he made it through childhood intact.  Whew!

His name is Costanza, and he killed my mother.

I’m so scattered today I’m annoying myself.  I think it’s time to accept I’m living life on a 30-second-delay.  I’m always going to feel like I’m running behind, and there’s not enough time in a day.  While I struggle to keep up, I’ll stop berating myself for existing at my own pace.  I don’t need the added pressure.  Done.  I’m having a lazy day, but accomplishing lots at the same time.  I do lazy wrong.  I’m multitasking, kind of.  I have South Park on in the background, laundry is going, and I’m ready to run the dishwasher.  I’ve cleaned everything in my bathroom but the tub/shower.  I clean the tub naked.  It’s super efficient.  First, I wet everything down, including myself, then I use two Mr. Clean sponges to scrub every inch of the tub and enclosure, followed by soaping up and washing my body, then rinsing everything off.

This is a slight twist on living in old barracks with community latrines.  I used to do this in my PT uniform after the morning run.  Cleaning as you go is brilliant for people who don’t like cleaning.  My cleaning playlist makes it fun.  Others have assumed I became a clean freak while serving in the military, but it’s due to my Mom making cleaning a privilege when I was little.  I got to hang out with my Mom and help her clean.  Being helpful was a huge source of my self-esteem as a kid.  My Mom knew what she was about.

I feel like witnessing my parents’ exceptional parenting skills was wasted on me since I don’t have children, sometimes.  I absolutely feel guilty about not having them, even though it’s for multiple valid reasons:  I’m physically incapable of carrying a child, and the only reason I don’t have a dog or five is they would likely die in my care.  I hate that this is the case, but I won’t risk a dog’s life over it.  Instead, I got a cat.  She has no problem getting my attention for her slightest need.  She won’t starve when I hyperfocus on my work, she’ll interrupt by smacking me with her cute little paw until I snap out of it.  When people tell me I should adopt, I remind them why I don’t have a dog.

I’m good with kids and infants.  I know how to care for their needs and protect them from harm.  When I babysit, I spend the entire time engaged with the kid(s).  I can’t focus on anything else while they’re under my protection.  I just play with them and laugh really hard inside at their antics.  Kids are honest by default, so spending time with them thickens your skin in a sustainable way.  If you find your feelings are constantly being hurt by your peers, you’re not spending enough time with young kids.  Five-year-olds fascinate me.  Something about humans who have lived for five years makes them precociously wise for a year.  The next time you need advice on a relationship, ask a five-year-old what they think you should do.  You’re welcome.

My arms hurt today.  It feels like the pain is in my bones.  I probably slept funny.  I have a new mattress arriving next week.  It’s a hybrid with coils and memory foam.  I’m confident it’ll be comfortable.  Naming a mattress Breeze does not make it cooler.  I’m fed up with waking up drenched in sweat each night.  My doctor laughed at me when I asked if the sweats might mean I’m about done with periods.  No would have sufficed.  I read somewhere if you start late you end early.  Apparently, early isn’t yet.  Dammit.

I’m dissatisfied with a few things that go with being a woman.  Menstruation is certainly one of them.  The perpetual physical vulnerability is another.  They equally suck in my opinion.  I feel whiny about this because I know it’s likely temporary.  Soon, humans will alter their bodies to represent how they see themselves.  We do this now, but I mean in new and exciting ways.  I want my Eyes 2.0 with EPIC-HD and a powerful gaming computer embedded, please.  I’ve never felt like other than female, but I also don’t do anything traditional to highlight the fact.  I insist others accept me as definitively pistillate because of logic.  I have no problem with using the pronouns others prefer.  I don’t know what it feels like to live in a body that doesn’t match my natural gender.  I imagine it would feel awful.  The least I can do is be respectful of those who endure terrible circumstances.  Meet the Parents is on.  I first saw this movie in the theater with my Mom, and I still have strong memories of her laughing hard throughout the film.  Now watching it is like getting a hug from my Mom.  I’m off to watch.

I know a secret

I got a little sleep.  Probably about 4 hours.  Good enough.  Two of the women I follow on twitter lost a parent yesterday.  I know how horrific that can be, and both are completely leveled by it.  I think one of the worst parts is the disbelief that you can survive without them.  It’s really hard to have the rug you’ve been standing on your entire life yanked out from under you.  It can make an adult feel like a helpless child instantly.  Intellectually, you berate yourself for feelings that don’t feel age appropriate.  But emotionally, it’s exactly how it feels.  It takes a while to make that final step forward, and recognize the fact that you will be able to go on living, even after your parent has died.  By a while, I mean a long time that can’t be measured in clock time.  The healing is internal.  The process of becoming your own parent is scary, painful, and hard to wrap your mind around.

But it can be done.  I know this because I did it.  Eventually.  And with much reluctance.  Because it’s not fair for parents to die.  They should live as long as their offspring.  With some exceptions, parents are a necessary support system for feeling okay about living on this world full of hatred, ugliness, beauty, and delight.  Life is hard.  Life without a parent is harder.  Being your own parent and continuing to go on sucks.  It’s a victory, but it still sucks.  Because you’ll always have that painful scar from the loss.  We all live with pain.  But that doesn’t make it suck any less.  I feel strong empathy for my friends who are suffering so much right now.  I can’t do or say anything to help them feel better, no matter how much I wish I could.  All I can do is acknowledge the ache in my own heart, and remember how vulnerable, and leveled they are now, and will be for a long time.

I think we are all connected on an invisible level.  I believe this, because I want to believe it.  I’m not religious by any stretch, but I do feel a connection to all that is alive.  I know that any love and good thoughts I aim in the direction of another will be accepted on some level.  I’m glad of this.  It allows me to share the love in my heart without the physical connection that causes me so much anxiety.  I always picture people in my minds eye as children.  I think we’re all children internally.  I think adulthood is masks and responsibilities.  Shhhh.

Violence Overload

Another school shooting.  This time in Oregon and last I checked, 14 dead and 20 or so wounded. Yesterday we had one locally, but fortunately, only the school principal was shot, and he was back at school today.  The kid who shot him was only 16, and is going to be tried as an adult on attempted murder.  His father said he’d been withdrawn and angry at the world of late.

I hate that they are going to try him as an adult.  Kids have no skills when it comes to coping with stress, rejection, bullying, etc.  They can have a loving family, friends, and a decent support system, and still do something this stupid on a whim.  Children don’t understand long term consequences.  It’s physiological. Their brains aren’t done developing.  They shouldn’t be held to the same standards as a 30-year-old, in my opinion.  They are going to send him to prison for decades most likely, and that experience will ensure he never gets better.  It’s a fucking trap.

I think we as adults can do better.  I know we can.  We should be teaching boys and girls coping skills while they are children.  We should start doing this at age 5.  By not doing this, we are failing our children. They aren’t born knowing how to do anything.  They learn what they observe, and what they are taught as well.  They are like sponges.  We need to teach our kids about reality.  Teach them how to grieve.  Teach them how to survive being bullied.  How to stand up for themselves.  How to cope with intense emotions.  We need to show them how we as adults do this, and let them see our example.

This means we need to collectively get our shit together.  Kids today admit they don’t feel like an adult until they’re in their late 20’s at the earliest.  There’s a reason for this.  We haven’t prepared them for the world they are inheriting.  We’re quick to label the new generation, but refuse to see that our label is more of a reflection of the parent generation than the one we try to sum up with a clever few words. Humans are too complex to throw them into groups based solely on when they were born.  Ridiculous.

Bullies have always existed, but they are not to blame.  If a child knows how to cope with being bullied, that child will be fine.  Adult intervention will result if necessary.  But that child who was taught how to cope with bullying will know that it’s something they can handle.  It’s something they have control over.  They aren’t blindsided with no clue how to react, feel, or respond.  This is a scary world.  It doesn’t start getting scary the day we turn 18.  It’s scary from birth onward.  Our kids need to be trained to survive in this world.

I was extremely sheltered as a child.  On top of that, I had a child level mindset well into my 20’s.  The Army almost sent me home for being dangerously naive.  In my case, it was more a case of my being disconnected and in my own world than parental neglect.  When the child is autistic, the training is different.  My mom recognized that sex ed at age 14 would have been disastrous for me, and pulled me out.  I didn’t have the fear of strangers necessary to ensure my survival.  I was too trusting, and I was a wanderer.  When I look back at my childhood, I’m amazed I’m still around to speak of it.  The times were different, and I grew up in a small city.  But I was also fortunate.

Today, the whole world is disconnected to a degree.  The small town feel of a small city no longer exists. Neighbors are often strangers.  Children don’t play outside in yards as much, and are usually glued to a screen.  It’s different.  It’s colder.  Our kids need more training.  I trust in my heart that if the 16-year-old boy who is facing adult charges was taught how to cope with his adolescent surge of testosterone, how to cope with the rage of feeling victimized, and knew his parents were aware of such things, he would be going to school tomorrow.  Train your children for our current world.  Please.