Archive for May, 2010

Graduation Inflation

May 19, 2010

I remember when my offspring went to preschool and the spring before her cohort was to depart for kindergarten, like kids do and are legally obliged to do, they held a graduation ceremony.  I remember thinking, how stupid is this?  But I let it slide as cute and stuff, or something.  Moms were crying and dads were taking photos and videos and whatnot.

I knew nothing, don.  Now that my kid’s in second grade, I’m noting that the fifth graders at her school are preparing for graduation.  A full-blown ceremony.  For going to middle school; sixth grade.  And the middle schoolers up the street–eighth graders going to high school–are also preparing for a graduation ceremony.  What the fuck, people?  Why not celebrate breathing?

Our culture has really diluted accomplishment when we hold preschool, elementary, and middle school graduation.  Really?  Shouldn’t we, as a baseline measure, EXPECT students in a modern leadership society to, at least, graduate from high school.  At the very least.  And even then, why celebrate high school graduation like a Sarah Palin nipple slip?  It’s just not that big of a deal.  Let’s not stop the presses for such low-bar accomplishment.  No wonder we have fallen so far behind in western world achievement…we’ve simply given up.  Except for playing video games and eating Doritos®.

Sure a pat on the shoulder is in order for the modest milestones of leaving elementary and middle school as you’re promoted to the next grades.  But a graduation ceremony? For fifth graders.  Drives me nuts.  Let’s celebrate important and meaningful things and by “important things” I don’t mean Glee or American Idol.  See?  We’ve become total mopes.  Wanna know why all the kids act like little entitled crybabies nowadays?  We made them into little entitled crybabies.  You betcha!

Yet another indictment on the American everyone’s-a-winner participant ribbon culture.  No wonder we’re a tea bag socialist Muslim society now.  Oy gevalt, homies!

Maybe I’ll cry when she graduates from Harvard like my boy Adam Wheeler.  Maybe, we’ll see.  Maybe I’ll just give her a pat on the shoulder as I wash trays at the food court at Montgomery mall to pay for it.

The Sports Parent

May 10, 2010

So my kid is playing soccer now.  Oh boy (wasn’t my idea but I play along).  She’s played before in preschool, at camp, and in an after school class, but this is the first time on a team.  In a league.  It’s a different animal with coaches and refs and stuff.  And there are parents.  Sports parents.

One of the top-five types of parents I absolutely detest are sports parents.  They are loud, controlling, and living weirdly vicariously through very young children.  If you don’t think it is really pathetic for someone to bask in the reflected glory of eight-year-old children, you should go observe one of these spectacles.  Do it.  Go to any park on a Saturday this spring and check out the parents.  You would think these mopes lives are dependent on the outcomes of kids kicking balls around a field.

What’s interesting for me was cluelessly slipping through some portal where everything went from the annoying “everybody’s a winner” mentality to “your scholarship is dependent on your conditioning, Jenny!” ethos.  WTF?  I’m sure everyone will still get a participant ribbon or some lame shit like that though,  I’m bewildered and torn to a degree.

Anyway, I had hoped and vowed to be as enigmatic a parent as I am at other parent-child events.  I do a bunch of school and parent-kid things but I kind of keep to myself and let the freaks find me for snark, yucks, and superiority-based hipster criticism.  With sports I figured I could just let the kids have some fun while my mind drifted to other more pressing issues like what some kid’s mother looks like naked.  I wouldn’t want to be one of those mopes roving the sidelines, barking orders, and usurping the coaching staff.  I refuse to say a syllable to any ref or official.  And I certainly wouldn’t want to absolutely live or die with each kick, throw-in, or own-goal.  That’s just fucking retarded.  My plan from the beginning was to just sit in my beach chair and chill out in my pork pie.  I’m the guy clapping for both teams like a smelly hippie.

Did I mention that my kid’s team hadn’t won a game yet?  Until this past Saturday.  And we they fucking crushed did very well!  Here’s a thumbnail of the season to date:

Coyotes – Opponent*

  • Week 1: 0-0
  • Week 2: 1-1
  • Week 3: 0-1 (on a very late goal)
  • Week 4: 4-0 (yeah, baby)

*Officially, scores, standings and statistics are not kept in this league but the Coyotes are 1-1-2 with three games to play.  C’mon?!  Everybody knows the elephant on the field.  They teach statistics in second grade math.  Shut up!

Well…guess who were the loudest, most obnoxious, most barking-est soccer parents this past week?  Uh, well the Coyote parents, that’s who.  That would be “us” for the record.  The way some parents explained it, our kids had not “drank from victor’s cup” yet, so why not party like an asteroid is hurtling toward earth?  We were kicking major ass!  And roving the sidelines…and making calls…and “coaching.”

Well “we” weren’t doing a damn thing, except being the parents I love to hate.  Our team’s parents (“we”) celebrated well out of proportion to the action on the field.  It got a little embarrassing, actually.  The Coyote parents (“we”) would have uncorked champagne and torched police cars had the opportunity presented. Co-yote-es!  Co-yote-es!Co-yote-es!  You’d a thought it was the Yale-Harvard Super Bowl® World Cup featuring the Yankees versus the Red Sox.

Don’t get me wrong, the girls played with a new intensity and a terrific team energy against what must be the one of the weakest teams in the five team division, the Hawks.  There is a lot of variation in skill at that age.  And there is a lot of variation in the skills of the volunteer coaches.

Incidentally, the best division team, the appropriately named Eagles, have dumped major points on their opposition but only eked one measly late goal against the mighty Coyotes (“us”).  Of course when the Coyotes (“we”) played the Eagles, the Eagles were playing the second half of a rare double-header (for them not us)…on a 90º day…after a 4-0 crushing of the Ponies.  Their parents are the worst.  We got lucky.

So, what the hell, right?  Even though I was trying hard to not be a sports-douche-parent, it is really satisfying to see your kid’s team (“us”) play so well, make plays, and score goals, baby.  Goals raining down like diamonds on the shoulders of heroes!  I was slapping high-fives and pumping fists.  I got totally carried away with the thing.  I mean, the overarching purpose of the 1st-2nd grade city league is to have fun.  And winning is fun.  And Saturday was fun parent winning day!

Hell yeah!  And shut up, I’m new at this.

Who Am I To Judge?

May 5, 2010

So apparently this prep school kid from a wealthy DC suburb at an elite old-moneyed Virginia university with a history of alcohol-fueled, racist, and violent behaviors broke into his ex-girlfriend’s apartment, kicked-in her bedroom door then beat her dead and stole her computer then disposed of her computer then went home to sleep it off as she died in a pool of her own blood and cerebral fluid.

These are facts.  The kid waved his right to remain quiet and told the police as much.

But who am I to judge?

You know you’re in a heck of a pickle when your own big money lawyer doesn’t spin the story as he-wasn’t-involved-at-all but can only say, “he didn’t intend to kill anyone.”

I’m a dad (as has been previously established, doy) and for this reason I believe the story has had a profound impact on me.  I don’t know these kids, but I am deeply saddened inside my soft heart.  I have a child, a daughter.  Kids get into and out of relationships.  College is away from our control and view.  I know how some dudes behave.  I know how alcohol impairs.  I know how the entitled steamroll.  And I fear for what asshole, jock, entitled boys do to everyone in their paths.  Especially women.

But who am I to judge?

At some point all kids leave their parental sphere of influence in favor of the sphere occupied by friends and contemporaries.  Parents are kept at varying degrees of arm’s length.  Some keep a pinkie toe in the parental pool throughout adolescence, others run far afoul of rules and laws.  Some leave the nest and never return, where others eventually find their way back.  Some are gang raped outside of their Richmond, California homecoming dances.  And some get murdered three weeks from graduation from elite old-moneyed Virginia universities by raging, drunk, entitled jock ex-boyfriends.

As my wife said, if this had happened to her child, the defendant would have to be in protective custody for his safety…from her.  Eye for a motherfucking eye, preppy boy.  I agreed.

Anyway, the defendant has a family full of money and will most likely get off far lighter than the poor, the black, or the unconnected.  Loopholes and technicalities will be found.  Innocent until proven guilty.  I know!  Still, I don’t see him escaping real, hard, general population time in a Virginia prison where he will no longer be the free-floating BMOC star on the rise.  In all it’s a lose-lose tragic fucked-up situation for everyone involved to many degrees of separation.

But who am I to Judge?