This past Saturday, in the late afternoon, Timmy with cell phone in hand, asked if he could go to the movies. Three girls were going and they had asked him to go with them. A completely innocent situation, they were going to see Nemo in 3-D. But the movie was at night and there weren't any parents that were staying. They were all dropping off.
When it comes to this whole parenting journey, I have found that the biggest transition so far has been moving up from elementary school to middle school. Up until now, my kids moving from one stage to the next has been more subtle. A baby doll whose arms and legs were duct taped on because it was loved so much and was slept with every night was one day on the shelf and not on the bed. Beloved stuffed duckies that went everywhere with another child, were one day found in a bin. One day you clean out the kitchen cabinet and you realize you don't need the bottles any more and so you throw them away without any thought and then a few years later you do the same with the sippy cups. The family has movie night, and when the movie is over and you have sleeping kids, you realize that you no longer can carry them to bed but have to wake them up so that they can walk themselves to bed. These are very subtle signs that they are growing up.
But then middle school hits you and it's not so subtle. My two oldest got their cell phones when they went to middle school and it just changes how they communicate with their friends. My kids can sit in our house, on our couch, watch a game on TV, and they will have phone in hand texting a friend who is sitting in his house watching the same game. They text each other to make "plans" and then will let me know what the plans are. Gone are the days of, "Mom, can you call so-and-so's mom so we can have a play date?" At least that's true for my two oldest. Their circle of friends has also gotten bigger. It is no longer our little neighborhood around the elementary school. You find yourself driving to other neighborhoods to drop your kid off so that he or she can "hang-out" with their friends and you stand at the door with them so you can meet the mom or dad, or make sure that mom and dad are even home.
So on Saturday when Timmy asked if he could go to the movies, I wasn't sure what to do. I have dropped him off at movies before but there was always at least one parent there and the movies were always during the day. This one was at night. I could be the mom in the back in the movie theater watching Nemo in 3-D far away from Timmy and his friends. Option number two could be to see another movie playing at the same time. Then Chris suggested that we could go out to dinner at one of the restaurants right near the movie theater. I liked that option. Timmy gets a little bit of freedom and I had the comfort of knowing we were close by. So that is what we did.
After we dropped Timmy at the movie theater, Chris and I walked to the restaurant. We went to Firebirds which, by the way, really has great food. Chris and I started to talk about our day because like many Saturdays, we go in two different directions with our kids activities. On this day, I had Ryan and Chris had Timmy. Timmy had a travel basketball game in Maryland and then a flag football game. It was the first basketball game for this fall season. Timmy has been playing travel basketball since last summer. Each season they will have try-outs and some boys will get bumped up to the next team and some times boys get bumped down. This time, they didn't have try-outs. They knew it was football season and a lot of boys wouldn't be able to make the commitment to basketball. I think they picked a handful of boys and invited them to play, and Timmy was one of them.
So as Chris and I enjoyed our drinks, Chris told me about basketball. The boys played hard but they lost by a few points. Timmy got a good amount of playing time but when they got in the car to drive to his flag football game, Timmy told Chris about words that were exchanged between him and one of his teammates. Timmy knows this boy from basketball. He has been a teammate in the past. Timmy calls him a "showboat" because whenever he gets a breakaway, instead of getting the easy lay-up and getting the two points, he always tries to do some fancy move and then, a lot of times, will then miss the basket. He also will try to get the three pointer, instead of passing the ball to a teammate that might have a closer shot.
So as Timmy walks on to the court, this boy looks Timmy up and down and says, "What are you doing here?!?!"
Timmy replied, "I'm here to play basketball."
"On what team? This team?"
"Yes, this team."
"So YOU, made THIS team?!?!"
"Well, just know that you're not going to get a whole lot of playing time on THIS team."
Chris then asked Timmy what he said next. Timmy said that he walked away and just started shooting hoops. He told Chris that there was a whole lot he could have said to this boy and really wanted to, but that they were teammates and they were about to play a game together and it didn't make sense to get into anything with him right before the game.
The Mama Bear in me was so angry at this kid. I know this kid from Timmy's last basketball team. He had an attitude then and it certainly hadn't changed over the summer. He puts down his own teammates and if the team loses, he is quick to point out everyone else's flaws but not his own. But he never was so rude and bully like to Timmy before and I was angry. But then, it started to sink in how unbelievably proud I was of Timmy. He walked away from him, not because he didn't want to stick up for himself, oh, he did, but because he knew it was better for the team if he didn't get into it with him right before the game.
So as I sat there in the restaurant eating dinner because I wanted to be close to the movie theater that Timmy was in, I realized that he was oh so very grown up in how he handled a bad situation that day. Chris had told Timmy how proud he was of him and if that had been him, he didn't know if he would have had enough self control to walk away and keep his mouth shut.
There should be a GPS for moms. There should be something to help us navigate this journey of motherhood. Instead of punching in the state, you punch in your kid's name, then the problem, and then it gives you step by step directions on what to say and how to handle a situation. And then when you follow all the steps, Betty (that's what we named our GPS) tells you that you are "arriving at destination."
But reality is there is no destination when raising kids. There is no finish line. And so today, I will go through our daily routine. I will kiss them good-bye as they leave for school, tell them to have a good day and to do their very best. When they return, they will do their to-do list, read and do homework, and then do any activities they might have in the afternoon. We will have our family dinner, tell the best part and worst part of our day and then when it's time to say good night I tell them to think about what they did better today than what they did yesterday. This is an ordinary day for us. But as a mom, we do these things over and over and over again and then one day, you have a day like Saturday when you are so proud of the choices one of your kids made and you think, "Things are starting to sink in and they are listening." I was a Proud Mama.
The next day, I was on the computer and I came across this clip from a year ago. I remember seeing this on the news when it happened. This is how teammates should be!