Worth Revisit: Personal Best

Looking back at May 2008 for this one, “Winning Isn’t Everything.”

“I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give to me on that day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved his appearing” (2 Tim. 4:7-8).

Yesterday Big Brother’s track team had a meet against a local rival. Big Brother told me last week, “To the captain of the team, this meet is the Super Bowl.” Both teams were undefeated in the local matches, going into this meet.

But Big Brother’s team was handicapped: one of the runners, the captain of the team who competes in at least 3 events per meet, was injured and would not be running. Everyone was sad for him, that he wouldn’t get that last chance to prove his strength against this other team, and for the whole team.

Big Brother was asked to run the 400m hurdles (1/4 mile) even though he has never done this in practice. (He ran the hurdles during one meet earlier this season). He doesn’t feel very confident about this event, since he has never had the chance to practice, but he agreed to do what was asked of him and he did the best he could.

Copyright 2008, All rights reserved.
Copyright 2008, All rights reserved.

Track & field is interesting in that it is uniquely an individual AND team sport. Each individual competes not only to defeat an opponent, but also to achieve a new “personal best.” In addition, points are awarded to the whole team for first-, second- and third-place finishes.

I was really impressed with the spirit and heart the team showed. They knew they were missing one of their key runners, but the whole team was in the stands, making noise, encouraging each other, and when they competed, they all tried their hardest. They didn’t win the meet but they have cause to be proud.

Can we say the same? Do we “fight the good fight” in everything that we do? Do we run our races with all our heart, all our energy, all our strength, with our eyes on the ultimate goal? And if we lost our race, can we do so with dignity, and with renewed resolve that next time we’ll do just a little better than our “personal best?”

worth revisit

I’m linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology is a Verb for #WorthRevisit Wednesday, a place where you can come and bring a past & treasured post to share, and link up with fellow bloggers!

First and Twenty

Little Brother is downstairs watching a football game that’s nothing but background noise to me. Turns out it’s Giants v. Cowboys.

New-York-Giants-vs-Dallas-CowboysMy mom is a Giants fan; my brother is a Dallas fan.

“I bet Nannie’s having nightmares right now,” Little Brother observed.  “The Giants have 3 turnovers already! (Insert painfully-detailed play-by-play of all 3 Giants turnovers here. The kid is going to grow up to be football’s answer to Dick Vitale.)

“Do you want to call her?” She loves to talk sports with him.

“No way! She’s probably really mad right now. I don’t want to take any chances….Plus, she might not even answer the phone.”


This morning, while waiting for Little Brother’s basketball game to start, I was talking with his Cub Scout den leader (whose son was on the opposing team). He mentioned that after next weekend’s Blue and Gold Dinner, which will feature the boys’ crossover into Boy Scouting, his son probably will not continue in Scouting.

That’s a shame.

At first I thought that the boy just didn’t feel like Scouting was for him. I told the den leader that my older son had felt that way for a while, and we asked him to just give it a certain amount of time. If he still didn’t like it after that time, he could walk away.

Apparently, though, that wasn’t the case. This young man is having academic difficulties in school. His parents are considering after-school tutoring to help him improve his reading skills. That’s a good course of action to take, and I hope that it helps. But then, the den leader went on, they had decided that if he does go to a tutoring center, he won’t be allowed to go to Scouts until his grades improve.

That’s an even bigger shame. Before the opening buzzer to the game sounded, I tried to convince this dad that Scouting was definitely worth the investment of time, and that his son would learn about managing his time as part of his Scout training.

I probably failed, unfortunately.

In this town (and many towns surrounding mine) the emphasis is ALL on sports. Little Brother is one of the few boys his age who is held to a strict “one sport per season” limit. I’ve known several kids who play on two or more teams for the same sport during the same season, and always wondered what happens when the inevitable schedule conflict comes up. The boy in question here plays multiple sports in a season, sometimes on travel teams whose games are an hour or more away. I’m not against sports–my kids are athletes too–but a steady diet of nothing but sports is awfully limiting for an eleven-year-old.

A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent.–the Boy Scout Law

Yes, you’ll get some of that in sports. Ultimately, though, the goal in sports is to win. The goal in Scouting is to fulfill that Law. By doing so, it’s not only the Scout who wins.

And when a child’s punishment for poor grades (or poor conduct) is removal from his Scout troop, he definitely loses.

No Killer Instinct Here

In which I reveal myself as a less-than-committed sports parent.

For the past three weeks, Middle Sister has been attending twice-weekly summer soccer “camp,” which runs from 6 to 8 PM, or right during the time in which I’m cooking and serving dinner.  It’s also right during prime thunderstorm hours, especially in the heat of July.

Last week, on that very hot day, the team parents got an email:

Coach [name withheld to protect the guilty] is going to try to still have training tonight from 6-8 PM. Hopefully the storms will pass through either before or after the session.

It is suggested that parents stick around or arrange for another parent (or an upperclassman with a car) to account for your daughter in case the storms roll in while we are on the field and we would need to get all of the girls into cars in a hurry.

So we parents are supposed to stick around in our cars in an open parking lot when it’s 100 degrees outside during a longer-than-two-hour practice just in case it rains?  That’s your genius plan for keeping my kid safe from a possibly dangerous weather situation?

Five minutes later we got another email:  “On second thought, practice is cancelled.”


But tonight, while it’s 10 degrees cooler, we’ve got thunderstorms threatening.  I’m consoling myself with the fact that we live so close to the school that I could probably drive to the parking lot faster than the soccer kids could get there from the field.  And I’m going to keep the phone handy during dinner, because if it gets any darker out there, I want to be ready to zip right over there.

Really, coach, when there’s any yellow and red in the radar, it’s time to call it a day.

And the thunder rumbles…


It’s time to get ready for the first track meet of the 2012 season. I’m the recorder, or Scribe as I like to call it. I write down every runner’s time in every race. It gets hectic but I enjoy it.

This is my third season, so I’m pretty good at knowing what to bring along. I just packed my tote bag with:

collapsible camp stool
8 pencils
2 pens
binder clips
directions to the meet
cell phone
granola bar
small “essentials” bag from my purse, containing Advil, inhaler, lip balm, Swiss Army knife and band-aids. Covers just about every emergency.

It’s going to be cold this evening, so it’s time to eat up, layer up and get out of here!

Productivity On the Go

…because when you’re a Soccer Mom and a Stage Mom, sometimes you just have no choice.

After-dinner hours around here used to include washing dishes, hanging around, reading a book and having ice cream before presiding over showers, tooth-brushing and other going-to-sleep rituals. Now the kids are older and busier. And while Middle Sister, as a high-school sophomore, can be dropped off at sports practices and play rehearsals, the same is not true for nine-year-old Little Brother. Someone’s got to stay with him. More often than not, that someone is Mom.

7 PM is my slow time of day, when I’m just concentrating on staying awake long enough to make sure that Little Brother brushes ALL his teeth. Not anymore. Now I’m headed for rehearsals that last until 10 or later! The director had dangled the carrot of “sensitivity to his bedtime when school starts” but what neither she (nor I) realized when she asked him to audition was that this was affecting my bedtime too.

I’m trying to get some stuff done when I’m sitting in a straight chair in a small rehearsal space for 3 hours on end. The other day I had a stack of the “Personal Journal” sections from The Wall Street Journal. I love to read those but don’t always get the chance, and they pile up in a corner. It’s not like most of them have time-sensitive articles. I got through a whole month’s worth on Tuesday night.

Tonight I’m bringing my copy of Apocalypse Chow and my shopping list; a hurricane is on the way here and I want to have some ideas of how to cook and otherwise prepare in case we lose power. If I finish that, I’ve got Michele Buckman’s Death Panels with me too–although that book is downright terrifying.

It’s pretty impressive what I can get done, even without Wi-Fi.

But no matter how productive I manage to be at rehearsal, I’m still going to walk out of there with “Mame” stuck in my head.

I’m Giving Up Basketball for Lent

Much as I love basketball, I am relieved that, except for the upcoming (but as yet unscheduled) playoffs, Middle Sister’s season is over for the year.

Watching her basketball game was a near occasion of sin for me today. We’re supposed to avoid those things, right?

No, I wasn’t swearing. I was tempted, but I didn’t. I signed that CYO basketball agreement that said I would keep my language clean and encourage my child to do the same. Swearing wasn’t the problem.

However, the problem was holding my tongue. I did it, but it wasn’t pretty, and I wasn’t proud of the struggle I had to go through to do it. Jesus spoke about the intent being as bad as the sin itself (Matthew 5:28) and if it weren’t for the fact that my daughter was out there on that court playing her heart out, I could have easily gotten up and walked out.

No, I wasn’t yelling at the refs. Plenty of parents were–and most of those were from the other team. At one point I thought that the refs were going to kick out one kid’s dad, who wasn’t satisfied that an intentional foul was called against one of our players who had mugged his daughter, and that she had 2 shots on that technical foul. (What did he want? Should our player have been arrested for assault and battery? The kid is a 7th-grader!)

I spent an awful lot of time during that game trying to keep my mouth shut. OK, I did yell stuff like “Good defense” and “Great job” because that’s what I do when I watch basketball. I am not the coach. I am not the ref. It is not my job to tell the girls what to do, or to call the walks and fouls and back-court passes. But there were a lot of parents sitting on the bleachers today (close enough so I could hear them) who were trying to do the refs’ job.

Let me tell you, those refs don’t get paid enough for what they put up with from the sports parents.

Anyway, I was trying very hard to keep my mouth shut during that game. Because I wanted to shoot back at those parents who were yelling about my daughter who was working hard on defense, covering the player she was assigned to cover. Yeah, sometimes she covered a little too, well, physically. But there was plenty of ugly to go around on both sides. Middle Sister didn’t foul out (she had four, before the 4th quarter) and, like the rest of her team, she never gave up. Those kids fought hard right to the bitter end of this game. They lost by 15 points and the other team’s parents were still busy going on about how our team “needs to learn to play basketball” and was “too physical.” But the Mama Bear in me was struggling with whether to open my mouth and tell those other parents to stop dissing my child and her teammates, or whether to keep it charitable since I had just been to church.

I was outwardly charitable, anyway. But that was a really hollow victory. And I’m still really upset about this whole thing.

CYO basketball this week has been fairly ugly. After Thursday night’s game, as Middle Sister and I walked through the parking lot to our car, a girl from the other team mouthed “You suck” at her through her car window. Nice. Did I mention that this is a CYO league? And then today.

Middle Sister has a bad taste in her mouth after all this; she claims that this is her last season of basketball. And while I think that she’ll do well in track next year, it’s a shame that she’s leaving the sport on bad terms.

It’s only a game. Why do people have to make so much of it? Why can’t they just let the kids play, and learn, and listen to the coaches and refs? These are 7th- and 8th-graders–this is not March Madness. Get a grip, basketball parents!

We Love the Olympics

The TV is on nonstop around here for the past couple of days–and I’m not minding a bit. In fact, I might make tonight’s dinner a “TV picnic” (we’re having taquitos, and those are pretty family-room friendly).

That’s because the Olympics are on.

The other night, Big Brother had a couple of friends over to watch the opening ceremonies. Little Brother bounded up to his room and got his globe so he could figure out where the different countries were.  As each country marched into the arena, he was busy spinning the globe to look for it.

Last night we got to watch luge (fortunately, without any more graphic coverage of that unfortunate athlete’s death on the luge track.  Come on, NBC, did you really have to show that–over and over–to my 7-year-old, not to mention the rest of us?  Show a little compassion for the athlete, his family and teammates, and your viewers!)

I’m waiting for more luge, as well as bobsled and skeleton.  My boys are watching the biathlon just now.

It’s just so cool to see the best of the best from all over the world come together and compete.