Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fall Soccer, 2012

This should really be titled, "High Highs and Low LOWS".

This season for Thomas was especially challenging in many ways.  He lost one teammate that we relied on and gained 4 teammates from the other Lakeside team.  To say it was a challenging transition was an understatement.
The first practice started badly.  Kids mouthing off to each other, disorganization, rough housing and behavioral issues.  Forget being able to "coach".  Our coach was too busy running herd on the new kids that were goofing off and causing breakdown with the group.  If that wasn't bad enough, finding a new mom standing over my son berating him nearly sent me in to a rage.  I turned my head for one minute to help the coaches pick up cones and I see that she has my son cornered, standing over him.  She apparently felt it her right to go after him for something that was said on the field, something that one of the coaches had heard and didn't think a thing about.  When you're about to take a shot to the face as goalie, a little banter is allowed.  She didn't get that memo, and when Thomas said something to the effect of "you're gonna miss" as he got prepared to drill it at Thomas, she took offense to this.  She ended the little tirade with, "You know you're better than him, Tommy.  You don't need to be snarky, too."
Say what?  Really?  In front of your son?  And my son?  You have the nerve to say this?  No need to point out Thomas doesn't even know what "snarky" means, nor could he pull this off.  It's not his character....yet.  Now his mom?  Quite possible he will inherit it down the line.  He just hasn't figured it out yet.

He was in tears.  In tears down to the house.  In tears in the house, and when he woke up in the morning.  I followed it up by several near-rant texts and emails with the coach.  I pointed out in multiple ways how inappropriate this whole thing was, and how devastated Thomas was over it.  He didn't even want to go to practice again.  For his part, Coach sent out a detailed email, and made a big point that this was not going to happen again and that if anyone had anything to say about anything, it would go through him.

AND...I didn't talk or acknowledge this person again until forced to at the end of the season.  Childish? Possibly.  I don't care.  Challenge me on it.  See how I respond.  You have my respect until you do something stupid. Then it is gone.  You WILL NOT MESS WITH MY SON.

Oh, and did I mention one of the other new kids punched Thomas at the end of the spring season?  Oh, yeah, that made first practice even better.  Did it get dealt with?  Not so much.  The kid is a twin, and neither twin would fess up to it, or so the story goes.  Did this child's mother care to bother with finding the child and parent and talking about it?  Apologizing for her son's pathetic behavior?  Nope.  And so the story goes.  You have my respect...until you do something stupid.  This would be in the stupid category.  No apology for pathetic behavior- no respect for you.

The true story of this season was continued training with Joel Grossman.  Joel is our lifeline for Thomas  continuing to improve his soccer game.  Thomas LOVEs training with Joel, made even better that he can do it with his buddies, Yale, Connor, Isaac and Alex.  It's not cheap, but it is working, and I am thankful that despite the troubles on his Lakeside team, Joel remains our reinforcement.  What should have been incredibly frustrating and disappointing big losses for Thomas, he found happiness in his individual play.  He had big saves as goalie and goals that kept him smiling. He showed moments where my heart couldn't swell bigger, and it made a hard season bearable.

I put pictures of Tommy's last soccer matches up here.  To me, they show a little boy with a warrior's heart. In the pouring rain, swampy field and inches of standing water around him, Thomas played his heart out.  Already wet, he dove for the ball, laying his body out to keep shots from scoring.  He had to wring his goalie gloves out between plays.  He had water dripping off him, down his legs and arms, muddy water filling his shoes.  He played on.  At the end of the game, he came off defense and came to me crying.  The reason for the tears?  The cold, the wind, the soaking clothes?
No.  He wanted one more chance to go in.  He wanted another goal.  Winning was not enough.  He NEEDED another goal.
"Coach, please can you put me in again?  Please?"  Still wiping tears away from his muddy face.

I couldn't have been prouder.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Disney 2012- The Planning and the Surprise

Our last visit to Disneyland was 3 years ago, in 2009.  Cooper was a wee little boy of 2, still in diapers, still nursing a bottle, still sucking on a pacifier.  Thomas, a big 5 year old blondie, was big enough for Indiana Jones, but still couldn't figure out how to poop on the pottie.  We schelpted a lot of diapers, formula and pacifiers on this little jaunt down the coast.
Following that visit, John and I agreed we would go again in three years.  We didn't want to lose the "magic" of Disney in waiting too long, but because Disney will nearly suck the life out of you while there, as well as drain your bank account, we needed 3 years to build up stamina to slug it out again.

This year we planned to take one Large suitcase.  Everything had to fit in that one large suitcase to avoid the huge fees the airlines are charging.  That meant no diapers, no bottles, no formula, no dubbies, no stroller.  That was a HUGE win for us this time around, and we were able to pack all 4 of us in to one suitcase.  It was amazing.  It was momentous.  It was relief and a big step as parents not to be lugging all that extra gear around.

We also decided to surprise the kids.  It was hard not to mention it, not to talk about it and plan it out in front of them.  Of course, John was also training for the Bellingham Marathon, hoping to make a qualifying time for the Boston Marathon in the spring of 2013.  It was not to be this time around, but the weeks leading up to the big trip found us very busy with training, family in town, 3 kids parties, my shared birthday with Isaac and soccer.  There were times I didn't think we would pull it off, didn't think we could wait it out.  I wanted to share with them our excitement, especially on the days where it was a struggle to get the kids out of the house and on to school.  I so wanted to use it as a major reward, an incentive for good behavior, something fun to look forward to.

We pulled it off, though.  We saved the surprise.  On Monday we took the kids to school as planned, then went home to finalize our packing.  We had Bruce ready to take us to the airport and most of our stuff ready to go when we walked back up to school to get the boys around lunchtime.  We had the office staff pull the boys out, and it was so fun to see little Cooper walk down with his backpack all ready to go, but not sure why.  He eagerly waited for Thomas to show up in the office.  When Thomas arrived, straight off the playground, he stopped dead in his tracks, a stunned look on his face.  "What?!" he cried.  "I am NOT getting a shot!  NO.  I am not going!"   He looked about ready to bolt...and cry...or both.  John and I both burst out laughing,  a little bit lost as to what to say.  We quickly shooed them out the door and down to the house.  We drug the surprise out a bit to allow Grandma time to see their reaction down at the house.  We told them that we should probably take advantage of the sunshine and go out on the boat instead of school.  The boys agreed with this, although not very excited.  When down at the house, John continued with the little charade of Grandpa taking us out on the boat.  I then piped up with, "I think we can do better than that, can't we?"  "What if we said we were going to Disneyland?"
Of course you can imagine the whooping and hollering that followed.  "When are we going?" they yelled.  They still hadn't figured it out as we walked out the door to the packed car, ready and waiting for us to drive off.  Thomas had a bit of anxiety, taking off quickly to find his Bounce.  He didn't want to leave his little bunny.  They each made a production of making sure I had packed Jace and Baby Bounce A Lot, their miniature stuffed animals they sleep and play with.  Once they were assured of this, we took off for the airport.
Although the Bellingham Airport piece of the trip was very hassle free, our delayed arrival in Seattle and wrong Gate Number led us to be "that" family running down the concourse to find our correct gate.  John literally ran ahead, with Thomas giving chase.  I hustled down not quite at a sprint, 3 bags of "stuff" flopping along my body and little Cooper huffing beside me as we tried to keep up.  I couldn't help but laugh as I imagined we were quite the show running down the hallway.  We made it just in time, though.  Just in time.  And too close for any comfort.

Suspected-Point Shaving at Northwest Soccer Field

Unconfirmed reports by credible sources indicate potential point shaving at Northwest Soccer Complex in Whatcom County on Saturday. A U6 soccer team (which means 5 year olds), coached by Jim Zurcher, continue to dominate their opponents, with Cooper Whipple leading all scoring and assists  this season.  However, on this day, after scoring 5 rapid goals, Cooper Whipple appeared to be charging down the field for his 6th goal of the match.  There was no defender to block him, nor any other obstacle.  With only inches left for the ball to travel in to the net, Cooper appeared to stop, looked behind him, then kicked the ball.....BACKWARDS.  Coach Jim Zurcher turned towards Whipple's parents, a look of confusion on his face.  Meanwhile, the rest of the team players were just then getting down to the field of play, having been caught up playing ring-around-the-rosie in the grass downfield.  On the next play, Whipple again stole the ball and charged down the field.  With no defender around him, he raced towards the goal.  Again, with only inches left, he stopped, then kicked the ball off to the side of the field, effectively stopping the game and giving the other team the ball.  Coach Zurcher, standing midfield, threw up his hands and looked towards Whipple's parents.
When later questioned, Thomas Whipple admitted that earlier in the day, when his mother (Mrs. Whipple) mentioned a challenge involving a candy bar, he'd chosen the number 5 for the amount of goals he thought Whipple would score today.  With 5 goals scored already, Whipple and his brother, Thomas, agreed the younger Whipple would not score again, which would account for the almost unheard of backward and lateral passes inches from the net.  Cooper Whipple would not comment for this report, saying only, "Tommy lied to me," in a whining voice.  Thomas Whipple did not comment, though a sneaky grin from the sidelines told the true tale.  Mrs. Whipple ate the offending chocolate bar, vowing to never play with her sons again.