Volleyball Day

Yep. It’s that time of year. Kacey is playing volleyball again. Technically, she never really stopped. The school season ended and the winter team started practicing. They’ve practiced for the last couple of months, and today they had their first tournament of the season.

Kace and I were up before the crack of dawn and heading off to a local college where the tournament was being held. These games start early! The team didn’t look so good today though. They came close a couple of times but just couldn’t put it together. They lost every single game. I thought Kacey looked pretty good though. She loves volleyball and takes it very seriously. She gets frustrated when other players make careless mistakes or miss a play because they’re goofing off. At the level she’s playing, they’re supposed to take it seriously. It is about winning. She knows what she’s supposed to do, and sometimes she has to help others remember what they are supposed to do. It’s the reason she sees so much playing time. And she’s not perfect either and can handle losing now and then. But losing every game? That’s a little hard for her to take. She had some serious pouting going on when it was all said and done. Can’t say as I blame her.

During the games, I sat in the front row of the bleachers and I kept the defensive stats for the coach. Between games, while our girls were sitting or refereeing other teams’ games, I read a book. And I learned something while I read…

You should never sit in the front row of bleachers during a volleyball game, with your head down, and allow yourself to become completely immersed in a book. Why? I’ll tell you why. Sometimes those volleyballs don’t get hit back over to the other side of the net. Sometimes they get hit. Really hard. And the players in the back row – the ones whom you are sitting behind – miss the ball. And sometimes while you’re reading your book, with your head down, completely absorbed, you might faintly hear someone say, “Heads up! Heads up!” But it doesn’t register because you are so lost in the book you are reading. And then you’ll get hit in the head with a volleyball. And OUCH!

And also, after a long day of sitting on metal bleachers. Your butt will hurt. Bring a cushion.

On a more serious note, I found time to talk with some of the other moms. Quite by accident, we started talking about kids. Oldest kids and middle kids and youngest kids. And the topic of college came up. And it just so happens that these two moms I was talking with each have middle children who are very much like Jake. We talked about the struggles with school, the years of battling and pushing, pleading and helping, praying and hoping it will all be okay. They talked about how each of their kids had taken a little break after high school too, like Jake, instead of just jumping right into higher education. One of them has a daughter who graduated with Jake and is just starting school this month, like he is. The other one has a daughter a couple years older. She described her daughter’s struggles throughout her younger years. It was comforting to feel that bond. To know that other parents struggle with a child who struggles. There are other people who have kids who succeed easily and also have kids who have to work so much harder at all those things most take for granted. And the best part was hearing this mom talk about her daughter, the one who sounds so much like Jake, and the way she is making it. She’s going to school and she’s passing and she’s going to make it.

Jake starts community college tomorrow and I’d be lying if I didn’t admit to being worried about him. Brad accused me yesterday of holding Jake’s hand too much. The comment made me angry and all I could do was walk away from him. How do you explain to one kid, to whom everything comes pretty easily, who thinks you just favor and coddle and baby another kid? How do you make him understand how much it hurts to see your child struggle and fail? How do you make him comprehend how many failures, how many looks and words of disappointment it takes to make a kid stop believing in his own ability? He’ll never understand that what looks like babying and hand-holding to him is a form of support I need to give. He doesn’t know what it’s like to not believe in yourself. He doesn’t know how it feels to be so afraid of failing again that you hesitate to even try. It doesn’t occur to him that Jake’s sometimes arrogant attitude is only a way of masking insecurities. It hurts to see Brad holding this against Jake. I just hope some day he will get it, maybe just a little bit. Maybe someday these two boys can actually be friends with one another.

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27 thoughts on “Volleyball Day

  1. My daughter also thought we ‘babied’ her little brother. Being away from home these last couple of years, she missed how difficult his struggles had become. When I went into the hospital recently and she stayed home with him, I think she got a better feeling for what his life has been like. She had an easy time in school too, never any real hardships. She’s coming around and the mutual resentment is easing. I hope your sons can work out their feelings too.

  2. I found from my coaching that as kids get into the high school years they really start showing the burnout factor from years and years of intense club ball. They become more and more aware of what else is available in life and find that they just aren’t interested in just focusing on athletics.

    As far as Brad and Jake, I never thought my kids would ever have any relationship their conflicts were so significant when they were in high school. But to my shock and joy they have become unbelievably close as adults. Take heart.

  3. I knew exactly what was going to happen to the reader in the front row of the volleyball tournament! I kept hoping it was just going to be a near miss though. Ugh. Lesson learned.

    As for Brad, he seems like a bright kid and I bet he would “get it” if you simply told him what you wrote here….heck, you could just send him what you wrote or tell him to read your blog. Support Jake, but don’t underestimate Brad.

  4. Heads up! I hope it didn’t cause any permanent damage (aside of embarassment). Hard not to loos yourself in a good book, but that’s a tough lesson to learn.

    I commend Jake for striking out on this path. Not everyone is cut out for the college life and they have to find their own way. Brad may be impatient and feel you are coddling him, but each child responds to encouragement differently. Some just require gentle support and nurturing, others require something a bit more solid (like a 2 x 4). We are lucky our son has done well in school and is reaching for higher rungs on the ladder. Mommay worries about him every day, but I feel confident he will be a success (but underneath it all, I still worry for him). It is in our genes as parents – we always want the best for our children. Good luck to Jake and I hope that he does well.

  5. Terri, when Joe, my oldest was here, he complained the whole time (half in jest) to his sisters that they are spoiled like crazy and didn’t they know how lucky they were to have this life they have. He told them his upbringing was very different from theirs and they should be glad that they get what they get and go where they go right now. I think even though he was saying this to me and to them, I tried to take in what he was saying. A man, even a young man, even a brother or sibling, always has a different take on things, just a different point of view from us moms. Continue being the compassionate mom you are to your younger son… just realize your older son’s take on it, isn’t an absence of love for his brother but only a concern. You’re an awesome mom!

  6. Hmmm. I’m wondering -after reading your post -if there maybe was something in the air recently that somehow landed on our kids and caused some issues for them? Last night, I got a call from my son, asking me to come pick him up. Yeah, the 36-year-old who isn’t supposed to be around bars, needed a ride home even though his girlfriend was there too but they were having a little “dust-up.” I went and got him, ended up at their place till around 4 a.m. trying to talk some sense into him. He needs to stay clear of alcohol. Period! It’s a depressant and the last thing he needs is some more “depressant” stuff, ya know. He just moved in with the girlfriend about a month ago and trying to adjust to living with her, plus her 8-year-old daughter, creates a few problems and a lot of questions on his part about child-rearing! LOL on the latter part of that sentence! He has his issues with these things and a few others too and because of some of his issues, now and in the past, there were many times when his older sister said I babied him, and such, too. And yes, at times I suppose I did. It’s taken a lot of years but these days she is much more in tune to some of his problems and now, probably because she is a parent too now, she does understand there is a fine line we parents have to walk to try to help as much as is feasible and to know too when maybe we are trying to help too much and thus actually hindering growth as well. No, I don’t think you are overstepping those bounds with respect to your concerns with Jake, but I do think because of the differences between your sons in ability and temperment it may take Brad a little while to grasp what you’re trying to do and why it’s necessary for Jake to have this support. But I do think that somewhere along the way, the light bulb will come on for him and he’ll comprehend your logic. Sometimes, no matter how well-balanced kids may seem to be, with respect to other siblings, they may still also harbor just a teensy twinge of jealousy that the other sibling is getting a tiny bit more attention too. (Crapola like that, when it rears its head into the mix, makes parenting all that much more difficult too, ya know. Always something, huh?)
    Last night, one of my son’s below the surface issues was his relationship with his Dad and the sadness he has because it isn’t what he thinks it should be -can’t talk to his Dad with the ease he thinks his sisters can about just about anything and everything. Tonight, older daughter called and said she’d talked to their Dad today and he told her that son had phoned him twice today and his timing was impeccable as Dad and wife #5 were fighting! Who knows but maybe hearing that alone might have provided an answer or maybe two, to my son about relationships and such. Brad will eventually see that he and Jake have different ways of learning, just as they have other differences within themselves, but the bottom line will eventually be that they are brothers and acceptance will be there somewhere down the line, complete and unequivocal for both of them. What’s funny to me at times is watching and listening to my kids and knowing that each of them -regardless of the situation one of the others may be facing -will bring out the protective side they each have for the other and they will spring into action like the proverbial “Mama bear” to come to aid and defend the sibling they feel is in need! (There have often been times over the years I wondered if they would ever get along!) Peace.

  7. Every child is different. Each one thinks acts and works in a different way. But, I also think that raising the bar is a good way to build confidence. Maybe Brad has a bit of truth in his statement. A lot of kids have their hands held too much. I generally follow the rule that if they are capable of doing it themselves, then they should be doing it. If they struggle with something, I’m there to help, but not do it for them. I can’t follow them around all their life and do it for them nor is that helping them.

    I think it helps to ask, “What part of this can you do, and what do you need help with?”

    Believe it or not, there are lots of kids in college that still have their moms call and wake them up in the morning. Sad … but true.

  8. Oh I think your lads will be just fine. It’s amazing what a few more years under their belts will do for their perspectives on life and therefore their relationship. I’m pretty sure that if pushed, Brad would admit that he knows that things haven’t come so easily to his brother and therefore why you worry about Jake so much.

    I’m glad you connected with some other Mums in a similar situation. All we ever hear about are the high (academic and athletic) achievers in life and it’s sometimes hard to think where the rest of us fit in. Good luck to Jake in his college courses. I’m sure he’ll very quickly find his feet.

  9. Poor Kacey – losing every match must have really upset her. Hope they pull together better next time.

    Not a good place to sit and read – thanks for the “heads up” ;-)

    I suspect that the boys will work things out at some point, although I know from experience that this can be difficult. My brother and I have certainly settled our differences over the years.

  10. Ok…I just left a huge honkin comment but b/c I forgot to put my e-mail address it erased…argh!! But in a nutshell I was trying to say I think you are doing the right thing…you are a fabulous Mom and Brad might just not understand this until he has children of his own. Keep doing the right thing. And…I’ve missed you!! :)

  11. Isn’t it a great thing to dish with other moms about kid troubles? Of course, you are not alone.

    Jake actually sounds a lot like my oldest in many ways. And sibling rivalry certainly plays into some obnoxious behaviors.

    It still surprises me how different our kids can be from one another.

  12. Each child is different, and needs more or less hand-holding.

    I can relate to the reader warning at a sporting event. When my son was taking baseball lessons (inside), I would use the laptop and read during fielding practice, but put the stuff away when the kids started swinging. Even though they used plastic balls to hit, it was dangerous for the parent spectators.

  13. Hit with a volleyball? OUCH! That sounds mighty painfull Terri. Maybe read a book a little higher up in the stands next time? LOL I feel your pain in the ass as far as the bleachers go. My son plays basketball, football, soccer and baseball and I swear my ass and back hurt worse every year. LOL

    I wish your son the best in college. I took a year off between high school and college and I’m REALLY glad I did. I don’t think I would have done as well as I did had I not took that time off. Everyone is of course different but it helped me.

  14. Well its the start of the season so some wins. Should come, no? As long as she tries her best.

    Jake will be fine. And you’re not alone.

    Its ok to hand hold a bit. Brad probably doesn’t remember when you held his.

    Oh..and yes! First rows can be dangerous!

  15. Okay, I’m sorry. I really did lol. As to kids, I agree with Abby, it’s amazing how they are all so different from each other. I’m sure Brad will grow up and after being in the real world and real life for a while will have a different appreciation for the circumstances than now.

  16. My son Glenn is dyslexic and has had the cards stacked against him as a result since he was a pre-schooler. But he will find his niche and it will work out. I’m sure your son will be ok too. Life has a way of adjusting. If it makes it hard on someone in one respect, it usually compensates in another.

  17. I think maybe, if you weren’t paying attention to the game, it’s a good thing you had your head down. If I gotta choose, I’d rather be hit in the top of the head with a volley ball, than in the front of the head! Ya know?

    Sounds like you were none the worse for the wear. That’s good!

  18. Hi Terri,
    I am with angelcell, I am sure all your kids are going to turn out fine. Some kids need more support than others, but you already know that.
    Why do you think Brad and Jake would not be friends? Brothers just compete and need their own space that’s all.

  19. I’m sure my mom could relate to you. School stuff came easily to me. My younger brothers… not so much. She even got to the point of pulling them out of public school and homeschooling them. How’s that for “extra attention”? :)

    I’m sure they’ll get closer as they get older. That was the case for me and my siblings. And I’m sure Jake will do fine in college; especially since he’s going to be studying something he’s interested in. My dad did HVAC stuff until he retired… and did quite well financially. Jake sounds a lot like my dad. Zero interest in school, but hard-headed and willing to work at something he actually enjoys.

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