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Playing Catch

So you’d think I would have learned my lesson about trying to coerce Asa into doing things he is ultra resistant to doing. (See last blog entry, Mom Twists Ankle in Attempt to Change Son’s Life for the Better, where I twisted my ankle really badly trying to get Asa to jump over a mound of dirt with a bunch of boys he didn’t know!) Now it’s been a few weeks and the ankle seems to be healed — knock on wood. And I am already, embarrassingly, up to my shenanigans again

Ani’s softball practice was today. I brought my mitt, Asa’s mitt, and a softball. I, again, was having repeat visions of playing catch with Asa while we waited around. As it turned out, the softball diamond was a muddy mess with a pond between 1st and 2nd base– so the girls just practiced in a corner of the big grassy field.


I led Asa to another corner of the field for our (er.. my) fantasy game of catch. To my chagrin, he immediately stated he didn’t want to play. I said, “C’mon. It’s SO fun!” I truly believe this. I’ve been playing catch with Ani in our backyard this past week of spring break — it is great!


Asa sighed, shrugged, and started tentatively putting his fingers into the mitt. “Ace! It goes on your left hand, not your right. You throw with your right.” Another sigh. He puts it on the correct hand. “Let’s just stay real close” he says. So we do. I’m hoping it will go like an egg toss game and we can keep taking steps back until we are far enough away that Asa will get to finally experience the rewarding sound and feel of the smack of the ball in his glove. But I’m off fantasizing again and Asa is already sitting on his knees on the ground. “Hey! I have an idea, want to practice grounders?” “Okay”, he agrees. I roll him some grounders. No problem! Grounders are fun too! But no, he is quickly getting frustrated with my aim. I tell him he needs to take grounders by staying low on his feet, not on his knees! He refuses to get off his knees. My plan is unraveling quickly.


I head back over to him to see if I can woo him back to the original game of catch. But he has something crawling up the back of his jacket. What is that?!?  “Asa, you have a ladybug on your back.” Asa’s eyes immediately light up. He wants to hold the ladybug. I watch as Asa’s entire face and body relaxes up. He is delighted by his little friend! It’s crawling up his shirt! It’s been named “Buddy.”


The joy of a ladybug


Buddy Is Just Like Spidey!

"Buddy is just like Spidey!"


I sit down in the grass and realize there are ladybugs everywhere! Asa doesn’t seem to see them and needs my help in catching them. We have a new game of catch underway. I pick the ladybugs up off the grass, give them to Asa, and then he lets them crawl up his arm to his hand and then watches them until they fly away off the tip of his finger. It’s very exciting when they spread their wings and fly off. Some of them fly far. Others nearby.


We realize Asa has a hard time finding the ladybugs because he’s colorblind — especially with his reds and greens — so ladybugs in the grass do not show up well. We both ponder that and then giggle about what a losing setup that is for him. Next we start looking closely at the ladybugs and realize they are all 6 dotted ladybugs with a 7th dot in the middle. We thought ladybugs had varying numbers of dots. These ladybugs must all be from one family!

Ladybug launch

Ladybug launch


Now we are into experiments with the ladybugs. We learn they really seem to enjoy the warmth of my iPhone. Their favorite game tunes to crawl around to are Cut the Rope and Bridge Constructor. We worry they might get radiated by the cell phone and burn right there before our eyes. We are relieved that doesn’t happen.


“Asa,” I ask, pulling him onto my lap, “what do you choose, ladybugs or baseball?” “Duh, mom.” “Okay, how about ants or basketball?” “Basketball, but I don’t like ants!” “Um, pill bugs or sitting in mama’s lap at Ani’s softball practice catching ladybugs?” Asa doesn’t say anything, he just leans back into me.


It turned out to be a game of catch even better than my fantasy.


Just Us 3

Just us 3







Mom Twists Ankle (in attempt to change son’s life for the better)

It’s Saturday night and I am icing my swollen ankle. I sprained it earlier today at Ani’s softball game, of all silly places.


The early morning Under 10 division game was pretty slow moving, as to be expected. I had advised Asa to bring his homework, or a book. But did he listen to me? He did not. He brought his binoculars instead. Thus far, at the bottom of the first inning, the only thing he deemed worthy of pulling them out for was to see Ani’s facial expression close up when she didn’t catch the pop fly. “She looks very disappointed” he observed. “Now she is really frowning.”


After Ani’s expression evened out, Asa put the binoculars away and got very bored. “Can I play ‘Cut the Rope’ on your I-phone, Mom?” he asked. “Definitely not” I replied. I did not want Asa playing on my phone during the game; there were too many better options for him, like just watching the game and being bored. After all, he could have been doing his homework or reading a book if he had followed my recommendation.


On second thought, maybe I could persuade him to play catch with me. I had brought his barely used (once to be exact) mitt and an adult mitt to the game. “Let’s play catch, Ace”. “Nah.” “C’mon, it’ll be fun!” “No.” “Why not?” “I don’t want to.” I had hoped both of my kids would enjoy playing catch by now, enjoy the smack of the ball into the leather glove and the meditation of the back and forth.


I noticed a Dad and a little boy Asa’s age playing catch at the far end of the field. They were smooth and in the flow of the back and forth ball throwing. It took all of my verbal restraint not to bring Asa’s attention to that boy. “You could do that too if we practiced a little bit sometimes” I said in my head.


Asa has recently begun identifying as a kid who doesn’t play sports. When his best buddies at school go off at recess to play soccer or baseball or football, he just goes over to the bars and swings alone. Now mind you, he loves a good game of tag. He also really enjoys wrestling, archery, bike riding, pogo stick hopping, and Tae Kwan Do— just not team sports. It’s frustrating sometimes for me… but I’ve stopped pressing it— most of the time anyways. Today was a day to press it a little bit. I just feel concerned that 2nd grade is young to be taking on such a “non-sport playing” label, especially for a coordinated kid. What if his friendship options will be limited to kids who don’t play sports? I’m already starting to see that happen for him more and more at school.


For the moment, I let the game of catch go. Right in front of us were four boys (whose sisters were all in the softball game). They were taking running starts down the grassy hill and leaping as far as they could over a big mound of sand and dirt. The boys were getting dirty and having fun. Oh good, more boys Asa’s age, I thought to myself. And they aren’t playing sports; they are just doing what Asa likes to do. “Asa, why don’t you play with those boys? That looks like so much fun. They look like friendly guys just about your age.” Asa did watch them (through his binoculars) and agreed it looked like fun but he didn’t want to join them.


While Asa looked on with his binoculars, Doug took a closer look at the jump, but wants it on the record that not for a second did he even consider risking his limbs for the cause.


I should have left it at that, but there was a part of me that thought I could convince him to join in, and once he did, he’d have such a great time that he’d overcome his shyness or fear of rejection, or whatever it is that stops him from joining in the fun. So I said, “I dare you to go join them.” “Nope.” At this point, Asa’s dad, Doug, who knew exactly what was happening, chimed in with an offer to replace Asa’s broken archery arrow if he gave the jump a try. Still no budging. “Well then, do you dare me, Ace?” “Yeah, Mom… actually, no Mom. Actually, I don’t care, Mom.” “Ok, I’m going.” I got up and casually walked over to the boys to ask if I could join in their game. Talk about the least intimidating, most friendly kids ever, they immediately gave me a tour of the whole territory: the “diving board” drawn onto the top of the mound and the area to clear when you jump. What the heck, I took a running leap and jumped! I landed right in the middle of the sand. Very unimpressive jump. I’d have to try again. I motioned to Asa to come join me. He shook his head. Round 2 I went further, more self assured this time. But this was to be my last jump, I landed awkwardly and felt a pull in my ankle. Wah Wah Wah Waaaaaaah. I slinked (or rather limped) back to my seat on the grass, as subtly as I could pull off — but not before I made one last ditch effort and quietly asked the sweetest boy in the pack if he would invite Asa to play with them. He did, and right away! I heard Asa mutter, “No, thanks” as I came back to my spot, and we were back where we started– except for the swollen ankle. I think my face must have looked like Ani’s when she dropped the fly ball. As I sat back down to catch the end of the softball game, Doug whispered in my ear, “Stop trying so hard.” Of course he’s right. When Asa was 2, I was so supportive of who he was that I created the Handsome in Pink line of t-shirts just for him. Now, admittedly, I was trying hard then too, but perhaps was more supportive of Asa’s interests. Now our pink boy is 8 and I need to accept that he is the kind of kid who more often than not says no to playing ball, and feels shy about jumping over mounds of dirt with kids he doesn’t know.  I know I should just let him be. He’s a boy who likes to watch the action from afar with binoculars, who feels safest playing games in the comfort of a cell phone. It’s hard because I have these ideas of what a child should be doing, and it doesn’t always align with what hewants to be doing. I always want to be helping him fly a little bit higher. Well, the ankle ought to keep us on the ground, at least for another week or two.






Sisters and Brothers…Brothers and Sisters

Sometimes when it’s late at night, and all the house is sleeping, I like to sit at the computer in my office and get lost for a while in the photos of my kids. Old photos and recent photos;  I love to remember the ride. How is it even possible that it’s been less than a decade?


Ani is the 9½-year-old sister. She is strong and very competitive. She loves the limelight. She does not take no for an answer, and she wants everyone (particularly her brother) to know that she is THE BEST! She often has to be reminded to be a gentle leader. Asa is the 8-year-old brother. He is wise, funny, and sensitive. He is extremely self-conscious and avoids the limelight at all costs; he can feel overwhelmed pretty easily. He is cautious and often has to be reminded to assert himself.


You might be picking up on the fact that the kids’ personalities are like night and day. And you might be guessing that the energy between them can be incompatible and downright messy. Absolutely! Sometimes they become wild cats roaring, clawing, and attacking each other until blood is drawn. It can be ugly. And then it can move quickly from spiteful and aggressive, to intimate and protective of each other. Sometimes I wonder if my kids even realize yet that they are separate beings, and not just extensions of each other.


Raising this brother/sister duo has certainly had it’s share of moments where my husband, Doug, and I feel helplessly frustrated. But funny, for as different as they are, and for how much conflict they have between them, my kids seem to have had similiar interests over the years. They have really influenced each other and have gone through the phases together from princesses and dolls to Ivy & Bean, Harry Potter, and Jack Sparrow and everything in between. This has made the times they do get along very, very sweet.


I feel appreciative of having a daughter and a son very close in age. They have had a unique opportunity to have exposure from a wee age, to all things “girlish” and “boyish.” They have closely observed their sibling with the opposite gendered toys, games, clothes, and treatment out in public. And I think in the case of my kids, they both liked what the other one had and didn’t feel that it was off limits.


Admittedly, in our family, my husband and I made an attempt from the beginning to avoid the obvious gender stereotypes in raising our kids… but some of that is unavoidable. Our son was known to toddle around in a hand me down truck onesie (and mind you, Handsome in Pink didn’t exist yet so this was not a pink firetruck onesie!) And it wasn’t a onesie handed down from his sister either! Our daughter had several pink onesies, as well as some skirts and dresses. And we certainly did not start our son off in dresses. He came to them on his own!


Please enjoy these photos of my kids together over the past 8 years. The pictures, although out of order, tell the whole story.


Bottles and diapers at the same time.


Ms. Kissy and Mr. Sensitive


The superheroes!


"Hey, we look just alike!"

Dinosaur costume competition

"I want to wear that dinosaur costume!" "No, it's mine!"


Out to fight crime

Orphan Annie and Luke Skywalker hangin’ out

A visit from the royalty


A good moment together


Harry Potter & The Statue of Liberty are good friends, didn't you know?


 We love our baby dolls!

A recent duel


Way fun to cuddle up with a thousand blankets and towels




Earlier posts:   2012    2011    2010



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