Sunday, July 4, 2010

I Spent Some Time in The Mudville Nine

The baseball game was a win with caveats.  The team won after being down three runs until the sixth inning.  Their rally was stunning.  Thankfully, Sophia even got to see it.  She emerged from the bathroom at the bottom of the fifth inning.  Up until that point, she'd been hiding out in various stalls having some sort of episode.

We'd forgotten once again that this kid is a total headcase when we go anywhere.  That's how rarely we actually go out for fun as a family.  We forget from one year to the next.

Before the game even began, our darling had diagnosed herself with heatstroke and excused herself, grabbing her water bottle, Nintendo DS and cell phone.  The phone is critical to driving her father and me insane.

For those of you horrified that two parents with legs in perfectly good working order would allow an eleven year old to go alone to a public restroom on the concourse of a small, minor league baseball field?  Stop stroking out.  She knows what to do in the case of an emergency.  I am the founder of the School of Benign Neglect, don't forget.  And besides, with the sour face she was pulling, no one would have approached her anyway.

The text assault began approximately fifteen minutes into her restroom retreat.  She began with laying out of the case for why she needed to go home.  "I'm overheated, I think.  I don't feel well.  Can you drive me home?"  She texts both MathMan and me to increase her chances of getting an answer.  She eventually ratcheted up the requests.  "I barfed a li'l.  Can I go home now?"  Next she attempted logic.  "Chloe is coming to the game after work.  She can drive daddy and Nathan home."  She even worked on what she wrongly assumed was my achilles heel.  "Besides, u don't even like baseball, Mom."

Finally, she resorted to tearful pleas employing text-short hand and a sad face emoticon, no less.  "Plz, Plz, Plz......! :-<"

It seems cruel to mock her in her hour of need, but we know this kid.  We may forget from year to year that she pulls this stunt, but we recognize this anxiety and even if we don't know its cause, we know its cure.  Ignore it.

The best text came about halfway through her crisis.  "I am so hot there's sweat in my underpants."

Oh how we laughed.

About an hour into the drama, I put down my beer, shoved my peanuts at MathMan and stomped to the restroom.  It was time to end this nonsense.  At least my precious girl made it easy for me to spot her feet under the stall door by wearing tie-dyed flip flops.  I knocked with purpose.  "Let's go."

The woman who opened the door with wide-eyed astonishment had a sense of humor, thank goodness. 

"Mom?"  Sophia stepped out of another stall a couple of doors away when she heard my voice. So those flip flops weren't so unique after all.

I led her out into the fresh air and we sat in the shade.  I started to berate her for turning yet another family outing into a pain in the ass.  I watched her eyes tear up a little as I hissed between clinched teeth.  And then I stopped.  I let the flashback of myself throwing up behind a bush at a McDonalds somewhere outside Birmingham, Alabama pass.  I could still hear the angry voices of my siblings complaining that I'd ruined the trip to Cape Canaveral.

"Phia, are you okay?  Can you pull it together?"

She tried to smile.  "Can I have a dollar?"  She pointed at the booth where if you got one of three balls into the hole in the tarp background, the prize was a cowbell with which to drive your fellow fans batty.

I handed her a dollar.  She came close with balls two and three. 

"Listen, it's cooling off.  It's quite nice and the fireworks will start right after the game.  Why don't you come watch with us now?  I'll get you one of those frozen drinks."  I just wanted to get back to my seat and relax and watch the men young enough to be my sons strut around in their form-fitting white pants.

"Not yet.  Can I go back to the bathroom just in case?  I might get sick again."

"Okay."  I watched her gather up her things.  "Hey, don't hog the stall for too long.  Move around.  And, for cliff's sake, stay out of the handicapped stall.  No need to be rude, right?"


"Hey, Soph.  I remember what it was like to feel sick and for everyone else to be angry at me about it.  Just try to relax, okay?  We're not mad, but we're not going to stop having fun because you don't want to be here."

"I know.  I'll come out in a while.  I'm feeling a little better already."

Photo courtesy of Doug Golden


  1. Sweaty underpants, they've stopped many a historical figure at one time or another.

  2. Another fabulous post. You're a fine story teller, Lisa. You amuse me so! Thank you. xo

  3. I need to go home when I get sweat in my undies....
    and good grief, woman, you have more patience than st. Theresa...

    I could tell by her face in that pic on FB, she was miserable...

  4. Sweet story. I struggle with the parenting-a-girl-who-is-sometimes-too-much-like-me-and-goddamnit-that-must-mean-I-am-also-annoying thing. Not that that is your situation, but you know what I mean. Your tales resonate.

  5. As usual, yours slices of life have more flavor than the slice of lime I'm going to put in my Corona in about five minutes (time to go join the block party outside).

    What I wonder is... how do parents who adopt a kid know how to cope??? When the weirdest things emerge in our kids one or the other of us generally recognizes it as ours. And then we have some clue what to do. I can only imagine encountering some tough issue in an adopted son or daughter and trying to figure out what it REALLY is or what it REALLY takes to resolve it, or at least make it as bearable as possible for all concerned.

  6. Funny we know our kids so well.
    I feel like I have "Mom radar"- I can tell a mile away when my kids are bullshitting.
    But that does not stop them from trying.

    We will go watch from a high vantage point the ariel fireworks tonight. Still, I feel quite unpatriotic.... perhaps news of the media ban by the Coast Guard has me questioning the whole land of the free/free press thing?

  7. Great story telling, and I can just picture all this going down. Tell me, was this because it wasn't what she wanted to do?
    Sweaty underpants.........oh the poor thing, puberty is going to be rough on this one.
    Glad you enjoyed part of the night anyway!

  8. First let me warn you that I am putting my amateur shrink hat on:

    Does she have a fear of large crowds? Does she have some sort of social phobia? I do myself and it's taken me YEARS to overcome it. I still get freaked out at times.

  9. Come on! It's time go when someone pulls the sweaty underpants card. That's pretty funny!

  10. My experience with one like sophia is not so much that we forget as that we hope that they might mature and change as the years go by...sigh.

  11. Hmm, this reminds me of a book I read about (I haven't yet read the book) called "How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk."

    Supposedly one of the biggest pieces of advice in the book is that you should reflect back to your kids what you think they are saying/feeling. Sometimes that in itself can calm down a situation. I think you did a good job here of just that. :) And you showed that you understood how she felt--bravo! :)


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