Together or Separate?

That is one of the biggest questions Twin Moms ask in any twin-mom group, whether at a meeting or in an online discussion. Usually it revolves around school placement.  In my case, since my twins have been happily separated in school for 4 years, I am constantly asking whether to keep them together or separate with sports and after school activities.

So far, the boys choose to be together.  Their interests and abilities are surprisingly similar for fraternal twins.

However, that being said, each child does have his own streghths. M-man is surprisingly better at “individual” sports/activities. He is a fantastic swimmer (our family fish), he has great balance and speed on a bike. Same with roller-blading. Out of my 3 sons, he likes to play tennis.

I try to encourage these “individual” activities with M-man, because when he is playing a team sport, and the team loses (even if scores are not being kept, KIDS JUST KNOW WHO WON), M-man gets *very angry* at his team and himself for not playing at a level, or as a team, where there would be another notch in the W-column. He becomes one big pouty bugger. (he gets that from his dad)  And it is near impossible to rationalize with him and use positive ecouragment that he played really well and put in his best effort, or that the other team was better, or that he should practice and get better for the next game. Sometimes I feel like I have never met anyone more stubborn and pig-headed as M-man when he gets into these moods.

T-man, on the other hand, is very mellow and happy-go-lucky when it comes to sports and activities.  For the most part, Hubby and I strongly believe that he plays sports simply for the social aspect, and that is why team-sports suit him better.  T-man has always been a social creature.  He loves to be around people, goof off, and tell story after story after story. When he’s “out on the field,” the effort he puts in depends on what type of mood he’s in.  Sometimes, his effort is m-i-n-i-m-a-l, and it is painful and frustrating to watch.  When he’s in the mood and he has his groove on, he looks like he has the potential to be a very good athlete.  But we never know which T we will see.

What is dissappointing (from a parent/sports-fan perspective) is that neither of my twin sons feel the need to practice any sport.  They don’t need to choose a favorite, but to hear them talk, each sounds like he is destined for the Pro’s–whether it’s NBA, NFL, MLB, or MLS.  (sorry folks, we are NOT a hockey family) They will both play the occassional pick-up game of hoops or touch-football in our yard when the neighborhood kids come over, and they both play hard at game time when they are signed up on rec department teams. But just the other day, during his annual pedi check-up, T-man told Dr. Pedi, “I’m going to grow up to play in the NBA and be as good as Kobe Bryant.”  HELLLLOOOO?  Really. When you only pick up a basketball once a week?  And when M-man gets into one of his (above-referenced) moods, again, I want to say “Well, if you practiced more often….then maybe…..”

But, when asked “Hey guys, what sport or activity do you want to do this upcoming season?…..M, how about swim team?  T, how about basketball clinic?”   The answer is always “I want to do what HE is doing.”  Sigh. A large part of me feels that it’s time for each of them to improve their own personal skills and abilities doing activities that each excels in.

People think I’m *crazy* for even suggesting the boys participate in separate activities—I would be creating a logistical nightmare for myself.  Don’t get me wrong—having both boys play the same sport (and hence on the same team) is not only easier, but very enjoyable!  So, I guess as long as they insist on doing things together….who am I to say no?

A Day with the Kids

Since I woke up this morning, I have been surrounded by kids.  Ok, you’re wondering “isn’t this normal for you?”.  Well, yes, as a matter of fact it is. However, today I was surrounded by more than just my own 3 kids.  And up until the last 5 minutes, it’s been a pretty fun day.

I was parent-helper in Little Guy’s Kindergarten class today.  It was the last time for the year.  Normally, K-teacher doesn’t have volunteers on Monday, but she forgot to X-out today on the volunteer calendar, and I filled in the spot, so there I was.  It was really fun because I got a chance to talk to the teachers a bit more than usual, as on Mondays the kids go to art and gym in the morning. I got to listen on K-teachers explanation of sea animals–the fish, the whales, sharks, rays, etc.  And I got to help 2 kids finish last week’s and today’s paperwork.

Straight from Kindergarten, I drove over to T&M’s school because I had volunteered to help out on Field Day.  I got there just as they were finishing up the morning portion, so I got to have “lunch” with T’s class and M’s class.  Fourth grade lunch is definitely an experience. One that, perhaps, I wouldn’t want to experience again.

After lunch, T’s class was scheduled to play Kickball. I was very excited when the class decided to play boys vs. girls. As the class was mostly boys, Miss L and I got to play on the girls’ team.  Miss L kicked first, and then the other girls took their turn, and I was the last one.  As I was waiting, I told Miss L how I hadn’t played kickball since 7th grade, and that I was always last one picked for team’s because I was a liability since my parents frowned upon girl’s athleticism.  I was SO excited when it was my turn.  I pictured myself bombing one into right field, having that feeling of vindication from being picked last all those years ago. 

The pitcher rolled the ball. It slowly approached home base. My adrenalin started pumping.  Here it comes, foot ready……kicked foul.  Well, OK.  First kickball kick in 25 years.  It’s ok if it went foul.  Here comes the 2nd ball.  Ready….ready…..kick….foul.

And I’m out.

What?!!

Clearly, I missed the parent-volunteer’s rules that 2 fouls constituted an out.  Shit.  There goes my glorious moment.

I stayed at field day for 2 more activities , “Cars” which was nothing more than a game of tag, and “Boulder Dam” where the “it” person has to avoid being hit by a giant boulder (bouncy ball) being pushed by all the other players in the direction of the “it” person.

I came home……exhausted.  Wiped out.  I wonder if I’ll be this tired when/if I get a “real” job?

And what has become the norm around here, all the neighborhood boys have convened at our house for after-school basketball, trampolining, rugby, soccer….whatever.  I’ve actually been enjoying the camaraderie that has developed amongst the kids. For the most part, there has been little or no trouble (pretty amazing, considering there are usually 6 boys here). Until today, when I heard my 6 year old shouting very improper language at one of the kids.  Because Little Guy didn’t know I was on the deck. I’m not a happy momma at the moment.  He knew they were bad words. He knew that when he said them. He just thought he could get away with it. And I knew this would be a problem with him hanging out (every day) with 10 and 11 year olds.  I just thought he knew better.

A New Chapter……Bouncing and Balls

This past weekend held a range of emotions–from super-excited to nostalgic and sad.  We’re entering a new chapter in our lives.

With the twins turning 10, and with the help of an overly generous grandmother, we purchased a trampoline for the boys.  To make room for it, we had to take down the swing set that we bought for their 2nd Birthday.  I remember how adorable the boys were when they played “Super Baby” swinging on the swing while on their stomach(you have to wait until I master photo-scanning to insert this pix!). The numerous picnics they had in the “tower.” Or using the tower as a battle station. Or the first time they were strong enough to attempt the monkey bars.  Or sliding down a snowy slide.

The swing-set was very well used over the last 8 years!

TIMBER!

But then, the trampoline was up. And the neighborhood kids started pouring in.  The mom’s said “Wow, I’ve always thought trampoline was a good idea, but we had no room (or whatever their excuse).”

Bounce, Bounce, Bounce, Bounce.

We couldn’t get the kids off of it!!!

Even the Big Guy had a go. He was pretty good. But then again, he’s good at just about everything. 

Then it was my turn.  Hmmm….I don’t think I have ever been on a trampoline before.  Definitely a new sensation. Sadly, it makes me feel somewhat light-headed. Maybe it’s my brain slamming into my skull. I definitely can’t do it for very long.  However, there was some soreness in the abs and butt this morning….perhaps this might be a good exercise tool for when the kiddies are at school?!?

The other task for the weekend was to clean out the garage. While Hubby swept and tidied up, I focused my energy on cleaning out the “Ball Bin.” Several years ago, we purchased a sports equipment organizer.

It has come in very handy in keeping all the boys’ STUFF in one corner of our garage. However, it was over-floweth.

I filled 2 trash bags full of “toddler items”–such as the plastic driveway bowling set, 3 sets of plastic “junior” golf sets, plastic wiffle ball and giant oversized baseball bats,  toddler size footballs and soccer balls (some chewed by the dog), some misc. Home Depot kiddie tools, broken frisbees, a pair of toddler roller blades. 

Once I was done, the bin was still full…but now it held only “real size” footballs, basketballs, and soccer balls.

My little boys are growing up. Time for the next chapter.

Happy Campers

It’s that time of year again, folks.  Finding camps and activities for the young ‘uns during the summer months.

It’s CRAZY, man!

I remember when we lived in England, this very well-trained American starting researching summer options in APRIL. I came up with nothing, nada, zilch.  Why? you ask.  School doesn’t get out until mid-July, so the summer camp/activity people in the UK don’t start printing and sending out material until the end of June. That means you only have 4 weeks or less to get a spot for your child in the activity you/he/she wishes to participate in.

BUT NOT HERE!!!  It’s May 9th, and I feel like I’m behind. Do we go with the very low priced Recreation Department programs (the ones that my kids have done year after year…..), the High School sponsored sports camps, or the “semi-professional” sports camps? Should they go all day or half-day? Do any of them conflict with our trips or other summer plans? Am I going to be dropping one kid on this side of town, and the other on the opposite side of town? What will I do with Little Guy while the twins are at Basketball camp? Oh no, I forgot about tennis lessons. T-Man wants to do Football camp, but M-Man doesn’t, and Little Guy is too young.

SIGH.

It’s enough to pull my hair out. I printed out blank calendars for June, July and August. I used colored pencils to come up with different scenarios.   I spent the afternoon filling out registration forms and photocopying immunization and physical records.

I just want everyone to have fun.  I’ll let you know when I get there!

The Kid has IT

Warning: This is a Mommy-Bragging Blog today.

I’m not even sure how to define “IT.” But we’re pretty sure Little Guy has IT.  He’s always been a pretty smart fellow, picking things up, the “how to’s” fairly quickly and easily. A lot of people attribute that to the fact that he has 2 older brothers. Yeeeesssss, I’ll agree, but only to a certain point. 

And although he is brain smart (I loved it when he was 2, 3, and 4 yrs old, and he’d say something amazing and I would ask “How did you know that?” and his response was “My big brain told me.” ), I’m writing today about his athletic IT.

Over the last few years, I have observed Little Guy play sports–usually on the sidelines– while his brothers were practicing/playing with their teams.  And he would do amazing things.  At age 6, he can throw a baseball farther than his bros (or other 9/10 year olds).  He can throw a perfect football spiral. He can hit a golf ball farther and straighter than me (Ok, that’s not saying a lot).  And then there’s soccer….

While we were in England, and T&M were in school, Little Guy and I would kick a soccer ball around the driveway. We did it just about every day (when it wasn’t too soggy in Jolly Ol’ England) from age 18 mths to 3 years of age. His kicks back then were powerful and precise. He just *knew* how to kick the ball around me to score a goal.

Last year, we were fortunate to enroll Little Guy in a soccer league in a neighboring town, because in our town a kid can’t play until spring of Kindergarten year.  The teams were 5-on-5 (or 4-on-4, depending on number of kids who showed up).  There wasn’t a goalie position–all the kids were “on the field.”  My Little Guy would kick the ball, pass the ball, sometimes kick so hard to “pass to himself” and score. And when he was on defense, he would run towards the goal to play goalie and stop the other team from scoring.  He just KNEW. He wasn’t told or taught to do any of it. (and he surely didn’t get this from watching his non-soccer playing brothers)

Last spring, just after he turned 5 yrs old, we were at the driving range while T&M participated in School Vacation Week golf lessons.  At this particular school, you have to be 7 yrs old to participate in the kids’ group lessons.  I had brought Hubby’s clubs with me, and we went to the storage shed to “borrow” a small driver for Little Guy.  Mind you, I’m pretty sure that Little Guy hadn’t golfed any before this day.  We shared a bucket of balls.  Thwack. Thwack, Thwack went his driver against the ball.  Each ball was hit on the first time….and flew…about 25-50 yards.  The Golf School Manager, Mr. B,  happened to be walking by, stopped, and watched.  He was clearly amazed at Little Guy’s consistency.  He came over to me, and asked how old Little Guy was.  I told him 5 yrs old.  Mr. B. told me that if I wanted to sign him up for summer golf lessons, it would be no problem.  (Yes, he was signed up the next day….didn’t want Mr. B to forget his kind offer).

T&M have played Little League baseball for 3 years now.  Last year’s coach had a 5 yr old son as well.  Little Guy and Coach’s son would play catch and hit the ball on the sidelines (Hubby played with them).  There was one practice where only half the team showed up, so Coach allowed his son and Little Guy to participate in practice. They got to play outfield and take batting practice.  When it was Little Guy’s turn to bat, he hit 7 out of 10 balls. And I can say, most of the kids on the team didn’t do as well. 

At yesterday’s baseball practice, Little Guy was full of energy, and he wanted to play too.  Hubby played some catch with him, but it clearly wasn’t enough (I wasn’t feeling too well, otherwise I would have played with him).  He wanted to go out on the field. I wasn’t sure it would be OK, since this was only the 2nd practice of this season, and we didn’t know the coaches.  Well, the team only had enough kids to play the infield. One asst. coach was in the outfield, behind 2nd base.  Little Guy grabbed his glove and stood in the right outfield.  Yes, he fielded some balls and threw them straight-as-an-arrow to the first baseman (twice) and once to the asst coach (Little Guy had to run further into the outfield to chase one particular ball).  Asst coach was amazed at his throwing ability.  Then…batting…..Yup, he was allowed to bat, and both times at bat, he hit a ball towards 3rd base, and he ran to 1st base safely. Each subsequent hitter also made base-hits. When Little Guy ran from 3rd to Home Plate—everyone cheered.

One more trip to the outfield…..this time, he wanted to play 3rd base. Hubby didn’t think this was a good idea, so Hubby grabbed his glove and went to stand behind Little Guy “Just in Case.”  Hubby told me later that Little Guy sensed when/where the ball was going to go before he did and moved in the right direction to catch the ball.

It is so much FUN to watch this kid play ANYTHING.  He’s just a natural. He has great instinct. Great body control. Great hand-eye coordination.  He’s short/small for his age, but clearly it doesn’t seem to matter.  Hubby is trying go make me stop gushing over him–so he doesn’t get a big head and so his brother’s don’t feel bad. I get his point, but it is so hard not too, because I am so excited and proud of Little Guy (and YES, I do praise T&M very much when they play sports).  As long as he keeps his grades up, I will let him play 2 sports/season if he wants to.  Can’t let IT slip away.

Boys in the Hood

T&M signed up for a 3-on-3 Basketball tournament in our town, with Hubby coaching. Each team has to have 4 players, and T&M invited 2 strong athletes/good basketball players (K & D) to be on their team. Actually, K asked to be on the team, because last year he was on the team Hubby coached and really likes/respects Hubby’s coaching ability.  Hubby is extremely honored/humbled by this, because K is one of those kids that are just gifted and talented when it comes to sports.  I’m sure he’s one of the best athletes in town.

We invited K&D over Friday after school to get some practice in for the tournament.  While Coach Hubby was showing the kids how to play on a 3-on-3 match-up, neighborhood kids just started rolling in.  Soon, it was an all-out basketball clinic. We had enough kids to actually play 3-on-3, with 2 subs. 

They happily played hoops for about an hour or so, and then they started acting like boys…..the skateboards came out, exploring the woods, a football came out. Lily even joined in on the fun. It was awesome.  And with the nicer weather upon us (notice the lack of snow!), almost daily, the neighborhood kids come down to hang out with my boys. And I’m totally fine by that–in fact, I prefer it. I know where my kids are (and this is a concern with Little Guy being the youngest/smallest in the ‘hood), who they are with, and what they are doing. We have a large yard for soccer or basketball, a long driveway for skateboarding/bikeriding/scootering, a basketball hoop, the darn woods, and of course, the man-cave. 

I just have to keep the fridge and snack cabinet stocked!

Team Effort

As a mom of 3 boys it’s pretty much a “no-brainer” that we are involved in sports. Over the past couple of years, Hubby has coached T&M’s basketball, and this year, soccer.  Little Guy just completed his 2nd season of soccer.

As much as I love seeing kids (all kids, not just mine specifically) play together in a “team effort” it, really bothers me when kids don’t show up for the games. Especially without calling or emailing the coach.  It is so unfair to the other players!! I know that sometimes there are excrutiating circumstances, but considering the coach is volunteering his/her time and the other players make an effort to show up, it would be nice and consdierate to CALL if your kid isn’t coming. As coach (or coach’s secretary in my case), we send out an email every Thursday reminding of practices and games. During a recent cancellation due to inclemenent weather, we emailed and called each and every player/parent (rather than having the parent “remembering” to check the website).

Throughout the soccer season, we’ve had kids come for practice on Friday night, but then be a no-show for the Saturday game. WTH?  This past week, our team was 3 players short (one had a broken arm, and the mom sent an email. The other 2 were no-shows). For those players that did come, they had to play extra hard and didn’t have substitutes like the other team.

Little Guy had 3 games scheduled at 8am this season.  For one game, Little Guy was the ONLY CHILD ON THE TEAM that showed up. Not even the coach’s son came. Luckily (or sadly), the other team only had 3 kids show up, and the kids played 2 on 2. The following week only 3 players (one being Little Guy) came to play–only the boys.  To be honest, I don’t even know how many kids were supposed to be on the team, because I don’t think a “full” team every showed up!!

And I can just hear some out there–“Well, they are only 5 years old……” Yes, I do get that argument….to a point.  Some kids aren’t ready to commit to weekly games or early starts. But come on, Parents! You know your kids. If they are not ready, don’t sign them up until they are. Don’t sign them up because YOU want them to do something. And if your kid WANTS to play soccer, baseball, basketball, WHATEVER…..explain to them it is a TEAM sport and the TEAM relies on every player to show up and play their best. Don’t assume that “oh, if my kid doesn’t show the team will still be ok.” NOT!  This is a teaching moment for responsibility. If not, stick to more “individual” activities like swimming, karate, gymnastics, etc….until they (or you) are ready.

A few years ago, while T&M were playing their first year of Pop Warner Football (at age 7), T wanted to quit half-way through the season. We wouldn’t let him. We wanted to teach him the prinicipals of Team Sports, responsibility, and keeping your committments. We told him he had to finish the season, but if he didn’t want to play the following year, he wouldn’t have to. But he had to finish the season. Period. And he did.

Sorry this has really bothered me the last 4 weeks……had to vent.