Middle school sports – a tough road

“Oh, put me in, Coach – I’m ready to play today;
Put me in, Coach – I’m ready to play today …”

Today’s youth take it all in. Wherever they go, whatever they do, they understand what is happening in the world around them. Don’t think for a second they are oblivious.

And, for those of us who are parents to middle school-aged children, we have our work cut out for us.

We tell our children to be patient, kind and understanding. We tell them to do their best, never give up and shake off the negativity that comes over them like a dark cloud on a sunny day.

But what happens when what we tell them as parents isn’t what is presented to them in school or in extra-curricular activities?

Do we intervene and pull teachers/coaches aside, expressing our concerns in private? Do we demand that our children be “put on a team” because it’s “unfair” that he/she tried their best for two years in a row, but in the end, didn’t make the cut? Do we tell our children to speak up for themselves knowing they may not want to hear the truth?

Being a parent of a student athlete is tough.

We encourage our children to “go out for the team” and cringe if they are cut, knowing we will have to put a band-aid on their emotions. But, what if they aren’t cut, but instead make the team to only “suit up” and never play?

Which is worse?

At the middle school level, it’s the experience of being on a team that is the life lesson. No one cares how many wins or loses a team had – because no one is being scouted or recruited by colleges or pro-sports teams.

My dad coached basketball for 25 years. He allowed every player “play time.” And, when his team was ahead, instead of running up the score, he allowed for his “second string” to hit the court. It was his way of allowing them to show him what they had learned at practice.

It isn’t like that anymore.

Middle school students are still trying to figure out where they belong, but when coaches, who should otherwise be role models, cater to only a select few, what is that accomplishing?

Nothing. It accomplishes nothing except creating a mindset that that player is unworthy.

And those select few players will never forget that feeling. And parents are left picking up the pieces.





Life lessons learned while gardening

As I grew up, I often helped my dad plant and harvest the small vegetable garden he had in our backyard. It was amazing to see tiny plants produce something edible and delicious.
One year, when I was about 4 years old, my dad allowed me to “help” him plant tomatoes.
This is how it went down:
Dad – “Melis, after I dig a hole, hand me a tomato plant from over there …” he said as he pointed to the package of plants.
Me – “OK.”
So, that repetitive process continued till he finished the line.
He stood up, and looked down the line. And saw one tomato plant.
Rather than give him a new plant each time, I kept uprooting the same one over and over again!
So, we started over and this time, I knew my job and it was a success.
The more often you plant, the better you get.
It took me nearly five years to “get it right” out here in BFE.
It wasn’t that the plants didn’t thrive. It was that the weeds thrived at a faster pace than the plants. And since the twins were still in the “I put everything in my mouth” phase, it was difficult for me to weed the garden because I was too busy telling them not to eat the dirt.
But this year … this year … the GREEN THUMB has come out in full bloom!
My (awesome) husband laid down the black weed preventer and all I had to do was cut a hole into the tarp; dig a hole in the dirt; and toss in my plants.
The weeds are not welcomed in my garden. And, word must have gotten around the “Weed Neighborhood” because it seems they all have learned that if they appear, I pull ‘em out and toss em over the fence in the “Round Up Will Kill You” pile.
Since the unusually-warm spring sprang upon us quickly, the veggies have been producing at a high rate. Between the constant watering and weeding, I have “bumper crops” of nearly every veggie.
Since I don’t like canning, I decided to set up a vegetable stand by the road and enlisted all the kids to help “harvest.”
One little “Harvestetta” decided to sample the produce beforehand.
Of all the veggies in the garden, Harvestetta broke apart and licked the Hungarian Hot Banana Pepper.
Then Harvestetta touched her eyes with her hands.
Harvestetta screamed and cried.
I gave her milk for her “spicy” lips, but wasn’t sure what to do about her eyes.
Could milk give her eyes relief too?
So, I called my trusty BFF … POISON CONTROL! I call them at least twice a year and amazingly, I never feel like an idiot calling them because I figure with all the millions of kids living in the US, some of them MUST have eaten a raw Hungarian Hot Banana Pepper before Harvestetta.
To my surprise, I was advised to put milk drops in her eyes!
And, even more surprising, IT WORKED!
By the end of the experience, Harvestetta vowed to NEVER touch a pepper again … we shall see.
So now, I have even more of a reason to store four gallons of milk in our house.
I knew we should have bought a cow when we moved out to BFE.
“Betsy” could have saved us a lot of money by now!