Archive for the ‘sons’ category

“It Doesn’t Matter”

April 17, 2011

When you are a freshman on a high school soccer team, you have a tendency to become the butt of some random good natured teasing and pranks from the upperclassmen players. My son came home from his first soccer camp with his very first ever buzz cut….courtesy of a random senior student who took his razor to the heads of a number of willing participants. He told us about someone – a freshman – being duct taped to a chair and then given rides up and down a dormitory elevator. (Several students were sent home early for that one.) He also came home with the nick name ‘Inspector Lee’ – a moniker that he decided to wear on the back of his team hoodie that year. There were a couple of other choices. I think they called him ‘Jackie Chan’ for a while and ‘Ramen’ a couple of times. But ‘Inspector Lee’ stuck and he liked it. It was a character name from one of his favorite movies – ‘Rush Hour’ – with Chris Rock and Jackie Chan – after all. And the name was affectionately given by people that he had respect for. The name was received in the manner it was bestowed.

He has been playing soccer since he was four. Thirteen years now. Next year he will be the senior goal tender for his varsity team. It has taken me a while to get used to such name calling. All of the things kids say to each other and call each other in sports. Trash talking between friends. You would think that I would have developed an iron hide by now. I mean, I grew up a ‘stocky’, over weight, hearing impaired, head rocking, bookish ‘nerd’. I was always out of sync with the people in my little world. However, I remember seventh grade as being the worst year of my entire life.

Still.

Not only had I been catapulted from the warm cocoon of elementary school – where I’d been nutured with the same small group of kids since Kindergarten – into junior high but I committed the horrendous fashion faux pas of wearing bright green tights and a dress with a huge daisy pin on the first day of school.

‘Flower Power’

The teasing began from the very start…..and never seemed to stop. I wasn’t into the social scene of rec nights and over nights. I did not make friends easily and most of my elementary buddies had been scattered into different, alphabetically organized, home rooms. There was a small group in my classes who took particular pleasure in rolling my round packets of hearing aid batteries across the classroom floor. How they managed to get them out of my purse hanging on the back of my chair I will never know.

But the very worst of the worst that happened that year was the name I was stuck with.

‘Tank’

‘Tank of the Jungle’

“Tank…Tank…Tank of the Jungle….please don’t sit on MeeEEee…..”

Princess is involved in a research project about bullying for school. It seems to be the subject of the moment everywhere right now. I dredged up all those memories of 7th grade the other day trying to explain to her why it was important to get a handle on bullying and why it should be stopped. I told her how my skin crawls every time I hear the ‘George of the Jungle’ theme song…..even now. I told her how I just can not bring myself to ‘friend’ some of those junior high people who have found me on Face Book because I can still hear them. I reminded her of her own experience with being teased about her ‘Chinese Eyes.’

To be honest, my extended family has never been one to shirk away from ethnic nick names and affectionate slams. Jokes. We have heard and said them all at one time or another. Sarcasm runs rampant in my neck of the woods.

Affectionately.

And maybe this is why it surprised me that it bothered me SO. VERY. MUCH. last night to hear high schoolers heckling my son – my Asian son – during a particulary violatile soccer match. They stood behind the net goal he guarded as the goalie for his team and told him to ‘go back to North Korea or where ever he was from.’

Someone complained and the high schoolers were asked to leave…..and they did. The venue manager stood guard for the rest of the match – watching and listening.

High schoolers.

And when I asked him today if he could hear them last night, he just shrugged and said that it doesn’t matter.

But maybe….in the very grand scheme of things….it does.

Quadruple Whammy

February 22, 2008


Oh, I am SO not ready for this. He turned fourteen today and I was gently reminded that it’s only eight more months until he is eligible to take driver’s education. I was making chocolate chip pancakes at the time and trying to decide which plastic plate should be his – the Ronald McDonald soccer player or the Cat in the Hat mini-plate? Swallowed a huge lump in my throat and chose the Cat in the Hat. After breakfast and before the mad dash to the car for a ride to school, I proof read the rough draft of an English paper that was due today. He’d chosen the common theme of kids growing up too fast from the books ‘Across Five Aprils’ and ‘Soldier’s Heart.’ He wrote, “Kids want to be adults because they get to do more things and then they forget about following their own dreams.” Aww.

Baked a cake today. Chocolate with chocolate frosting and color flaming candles – per his request. Met them at my school and worked on homework in the library before a meeting I needed to attend. I was going over Science vocabulary with his sister when he nonchalantly handed me a large yellow envelope. High School registration forms. HIGH SCHOOL! It’s looming just slightly over the horizon. I swallowed the lump in my throat and looked through the catalog as he went on excitedly about which electives he was thinking about taking….and watched him fill out the sports interest form with round, still childish script. Sigh.

We went out to dinner at a restaurant he’d chosen. His sister had an announcement and there was a scuffle of feet under the table. She glanced at him in consternation and then silently sat back in her seat. It took a few wiggles and jabs but we were finally told that he’d asked a girl to dance at the school Valentine celebration last week. The girl had told his sister about it yesterday. A very proud and giggly girl told her about in the hall between classes. She even knows her name…..which I told her to keep a secret. She is a sister after all and I know he’ll tell me some day soon. Instant flashback. Black slacks, slate gray shirt AND….behold all wonders….a silver TIE! I would have been giggling too. He was one handsome dude that night.

Then it hit me. Fourteen? Driver’s Ed? High School? Girls?

Quadruple whammy.

I am SO not ready for this. Sigh.