Thursday, February 26, 2009

Better Than You

Today's flavor: sumatra - strong, complex, layered

Secretly, we all like to feel a bit superior - don't we? Admit it. You've been known to enjoy the occasional ego-boost at someone else's expense.

Of course, there are different degrees of this.

Some people criticize everyone they see...
  • "Holy crap, look at that hair."
  • "She should not be wearing those pants."
  • "The 80's called, they want their furniture back."
  • "Look at how this idiot is driving."
  • "Their kids are so spoiled."
Others reserve their condemnations for those who have actually done them wrong...
  • "That cow stole my parking spot!"
  • "If she thinks her flirting is working on my man, she's just as stupid as she is trashy."
  • "Well, of course, she doesn't like me - her face looks like a saddle - I'm practically Angelina next to her. "
  • "I'm thrilled not to be invited - spare me a night of discussing American Idol while being treated to a bowl of chex party mix."

Then there are those who see the best in everyone, are generous as elastic-waist pants, and possessed of unflinching empathy. You'll never catch these highly evolved models of integrity engaging in petty gossip, throwing around insults, or casting stones. As much as I enjoy my own snarky disposition, witty observations and long-cultivated point of view, I am in awe of these people. They really are just so, well, superior. They are better than me. They are better than you. Do you think they know? Uh, yeah, they know...and secretly, they are enjoying a little ego-boost at your expense.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Attack of the Game Moms

Today's flavor -
Cayenne: heated; only bearable in small doses; many redeeming qualities, including passion.

[Here in my very first post, I am confirming publicly that I am, in fact, a crappy mom. Following is my account of an ugly incident at a 3rd & 4th Grade Girls Basketball Game.]

During the third quarter of our game this past Saturday, Veronica was hurt by an opposing player. She got up from a fall - unbelievably no one seemed to notice that she was hurt and crying, and the game just went on. I reflexively ran to see about my daughter and get her off the court. There was no whistle until I had removed her. She was crying so hard, I could barely understand her, when she said, "She kicked me. She kicked me on purpose!" Veronica has taken some hits on the court and even if she was physically hurt, it was the "on purpose" part that was making her cry. There was no call, there was no acknowledgement, and I admit, I was seeing red. My child was attacked and it seemed that no one cared. I signaled to the ref and said "She got kicked! Deliberately!" He sincerely and diplomatically said, "I'm sorry, I can't say, I didn't see it." Immediately the mothers from the other team were yelling "No she didn't! Nobody saw anything, she didn't get kicked!" Of course I was upset and and yelled, "She is not lying! She got kicked!" And when I saw the girl who was on the other end of the situation, I did say (yelled? most likely, considering all the yelling going on all around me) "Did you kick her?! Did you kick her on purpose?!" The other little girl started to cry and her father told me there was nothing deliberate and took her back to their bench. Veronica went back to her bench and both girls sat out briefly.

As soon as the game resumed, several mothers from the opposing side came at me telling me what a monster I was for yelling at an 8 year old when "nothing actually happened," they came en mass to say that Veronica was "the most aggressive one out there," (so she deserved a good kick?) and at least one of them said, "and your daughter isn't even hurt!" I actually wanted to try to talk to the girl's mother, who was the only one actually acting reasonably, but the other women just swarmed. So many of them were talking, my 6 year old said, "Mommy that lady said Veronica's lying!"

How wrong was I for yelling at the child? Inexcusably, painfully, regretfully, unequivocally, completely wrong. I was immediately sorry about my reaction. I do understand that the other moms decided I needed a good telling off. Absolutely, I get that. Calling Veronica a liar - and yes, she heard them say that there was no kick - was not exactly a decent response either. A couple of these women walked all the way from the other end of the spectator's seats to berate me and add fuel to the fire, yet somehow, I'm the only one who did anything wrong. After the game, I went to my daughter's side and the first thing she said was "I wasn't lying!" I told her, "I know. I believe you. But I want to apologize to that girl for yelling at her and maybe you can believe her too if she says it wasn't on purpose. Do you want to come with me?" She said Ok. We approached the girl (I thought her name was Tracy, but now I'm not sure) and I said "Tracy, I want to apologize for yelling at you," she started crying again and she said "It's OK." I said, "No, it wasn't ok. I shouldn't have done that, but I couldn't call my daughter a liar" Then the other girls' father who is also the coach, interrupted, "That's not an apology!" I was shocked. Ridiculously, I kept trying to explain. I said, "Look, I had to believe her - we do teach our kids not to hit -" But I couldn't finish. The other dad said, "That's your apology? Fine. It's not a real apology, but you think it is, so we're done." He ushered his family away. And the other mothers were on me again. "That wasn't an apology! You're still saying your daughter was kicked and she wasn't."
I know what I did was wrong. I recognize it. I tried and would have taken an opportunity to apologize properly and soothe the girl's feelings. I do want to apologize to everyone who felt offended by my fierce and inappropriate defensive reaction. That said, I can't ever imagine a situation where I wouldn't step in like a tigress to protect my child if I thought she was being attacked. As other parents sit in the comfortable shadows of their unbruised children, it's very easy for them to judge me and feel completely righteous in the certainty of how well they would have handled being in my situation. If everyone is in agreement that I'm so awful that I shouldn't be allowed to attend the next game(s), I accept that. I hope they also understand that they are also punishing Veronica - who did not a single thing wrong, and has a pretty nasty bruise from the kick that supposedly never happened - and confirming what she still fears: that she was not believed.

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