November 26, 2013
When my friend asked me to go to the Bryan Adams concert with her, I was beside myself with excitement. I spent many summers of the 80′s, sitting in the shade of our birch tree, blasting my Bryan Adams cassettes as loud as they would go. I may not be able to remember much I learned in school during those early years, but I recall every word of his songs. It’s funny how you don’t even know those lyrics are there, sitting dormant in your brain, until the song comes on and you’re right there, back in your childhood. It’s amazing, music’s ability to take you back to a much simpler time. The feeling that washes over your body and soul when you hear certain songs is like no other.
The concert on Sunday night was like that. My friends and I met for dinner, and we realized that our dessert conversation had lasted a bit long. After reading reviews of his “Bare Bones” concert online, I knew he was going to start with “Run to You,” so that’s pretty much what we did, from the parking lot to the theater. We ran to him. I wasn’t going to miss it.
Our local paper reviewed the concert and started off with the line, “Bryan Adams’ show Sunday night in Reading reminded him of cat pee.” Really? That’s the best opening you could come up with for the concert review?? Because the show reminded me of a simpler time, when singer/songwriters wrote songs about love that people could relate to and fall in love with. It struck me, while listening to his songs, that people don’t really write like that anymore. Love songs have really changed, and not for the better. Bryan Adams would never write a song about “twerking.” He seemed personable, humorous and completely down-to-Earth; he’s someone you’d like to sit down with and share a cup of coffee. Our local paper also said he imitated Bruce Springsteen. I’m thinking the reporter may have been a bit off his game, because he made it pretty clear he was impersonating Blake Shelton, not Bruce. Can I be the new concert reviewer, please?
Dressed simply and with a “no frills” black curtain backdrop with a projected skeleton in the background, Bryan Adams got the spirited crowd going from the start, his voice flawless in delivery. The man hasn’t missed a beat in all these years. With only a piano backing him up at times, the sound was still full and vibrant. The songs were delivered the way they were originally written. There were even a couple crazy 80′s girls there, screaming out to Bryan, “Can I get your number?” and making strange and inappropriate innuendo statements about “Summer of ’69.” My friends and I were busy rolling our eyes about those girls when Adams asked for a female volunteer, “a wild woman” who could dance.
It was an out-of-body experience as my comments about others suddenly turned into me standing straight up, waving wildly. I’m nothing if not a wild woman, and this girl can dance. And in fact, from previous posts, you all know my dream is to be a back-up dancer. So I stood there in the balcony, waving my arms and yelling out, “Bryan-UP HERE!” I had on what my sister refers to as my “Aerosmith pants.” I mean, how could I not be chosen? In the end, he chose a girl on the floor in the first couple of rows. I’m going with the fact that it was super dark in the balcony. I mean he probably couldn’t see me right?
If you are a fan of Bryan Adams and he’s coming to a city near you, you absolutely MUST go. He played so many of the classics that probably made you fall in love with him. It is a night out you won’t soon forget!
November 14, 2013
When Mr. BBM suggested we go to the JT concert for our anniversary, I was kind of surprised. I had imagined a weekend away, somewhere quiet, where we could catch up on sleep. Exciting, I know. But with a 12, 8 and 2-year old in the house, quiet and sleep are two things that are in short supply.
I spent weeks planning my outfit for the occasion. I haven’t had a night out in a big city in a long time. Clearly all the other chicks there thought high black boots were the way to go too. At least I knew I was still somewhat “with it.”
So we went to the concert and had an amazing time. There’s something about being a woman and knowing you’re breathing the same air as JT. It is instantly exhilarating. I couldn’t help thinking as I screamed, “Oh My GOD, he’s coming right here!” that perhaps this is not what Mr. BBM had in mind for our anniversary. Me, him and JT. . . and me screaming with utter joy when the stage began to move and he got closer to us by the minute. I left that concert completely “love-stoned.” No joke. Minus the beer-soaked jacket thanks to some klutzy girl sitting behind me, it was a night I won’t soon forget.
But instead of just enjoying the concert, there was this nagging feeling deep inside. I should have pursued a career in the music industry. I should have been a performer’s manager. I should have been a back-up dancer. Heck, I’ll be the girl that stands on the side of the stage and hands the man water when he needs it.
We spent the night in Philly and came home to our three awesome kids. Little Man followed me around 24/7 and kept hugging me and kissing me. Parting so I could go to the bathroom was almost too much for him. The girls picked up right where they left off with the sibling rivalry and non-stop arguments. Mr. BBM and I couldn’t help but look at each other occasionally and mouth, “let’s go back.” We rarely get a minute, let alone a night, to ourselves. It truly was amazing.
Days later though, as I drop off the dry-cleaning and pick up ingredients needed for dinner, organize Little Man’s toys and go about the business of laundry, the feeling lingers. It’s clearly a JT hangover. The concert was incredible and I can only imagine how cool it would be to be a part of it, day after day, night after night. Can you imagine what it would feel like to be a part of putting on that production? To be a dancer within feet of such an incredible celebrity? To be one of the behind the scenes people who makes it all happen?
Swim Girl and I were having a conversation in the car the other night about it. “Do you wish you were doing something different?” she asked me. It’s a tough question to answer. I think every stay-at-home mom who made the choice to put career aside for her kids would jump at the opportunity to do something extravagant, to go on a worldwide tour. I’ve been thinking about my choice a lot lately. There are things we’d like to do with our house, places we’d like to travel, but we can’t right now. I would never want anyone else raising my kids. We’ve certainly made the sacrifices so that I can be home when they get home from school, so that none of them ever had to go to a daycare setting. But it also meant putting aside the dream of being a big-time magazine editor or writer, navigating the streets of NYC with ease. Also, that whole dream of being the next Madonna, but better and without the gladiator boob contraptions.
So I have it all figured out. JT needs to hire and train me as a back-up dancer (social media genius or even as security!). I’ll need a bus all my own, equipped with enough beds for my family, and internet access so Mr. BBM can work from the road. I also need a nanny. I’ll home school the kids during the day; we’ll travel the world and consider that a year-long field trip. At night, I’ll pop my strawberry bubblegum on stage while my kids chill in the trailer watching Disney movies or finish up their homework. Yep, I’ll be “That Girl,” the one who has it all. Who says I can’t?
September 24, 2013
The other night, we took my Mom out for dinner for her birthday. My sister, Mom and I went for manicures and then waited at the bar of the restaurant for the rest of our crew to show up. We got in a conversation and somehow, my volunteer position as the President of my daughters’ swim club came up.
“Yeah, you should quit that,” my sister said. ”Little Man is little and he needs you.”
“He gets me,” I protested. “It’s a lot of work, but I do it at home and it’s not like Little Man is being neglected.”
It wasn’t the comment that bothered me, as much as the fact that my Mom and sister had clearly had discussions about how my volunteer position should be eliminated. This is my third year as Co-President along with Mr. BBM of a thriving USA swimming club. In one year, we moved up almost 400 spots nationally. We added 15 more kids to our roster this year and had to turn many away because we simply don’t have the lane space. This past summer, we had enough swimmers in attendance at Junior Olympics to have relays in three age groups. And the relays did well. Twelve of our girls came home with medals; two of our swimmers made the Zones team. In the relatively short time of our tenure, we made major changes to our staff, applied for and received 501c3 status in less than six weeks (which our accountant says is virtually unheard of), and frankly, I’m just getting started.
What bothered me is that it was implied that because there’s no payment for what I do, there’s no value. I disagree.
Yes, I sometimes complain about all the work because there is a LOT. OF. WORK. I spend a minimum of 40 hours per week updating our website, sending out emails, sending in meet entries, and doing things to make our club a better place to swim. I’m tireless in my efforts; and yes, I sometimes get very frustrated with circumstances and people. Because OH. MY. GOD. can people be a pain in the butt sometimes.
But when I’m at the pool, and I see our coaching staff working together so well, and I see our swimmers achieving things they wrote on their goal sheets at the beginning of the year, it makes it all worth it. Every. Single. Moment.
Selfishly, I want this club to be the most amazing place to swim in a 100 mile radius for my kids. I want college coaches to take notice of the swimmers we’re churning out. I’ll stop at nothing to make it that way. But the pay-off is that this year, we have 99 swimmers that are benefiting from our amazing coaches. These 99 kids are all “my kids” in so many ways. Their successes and achievements are my successes and achievements. And just because there’s no payment for what I do doesn’t mean that it’s useless or lacking value. I do what I do because it’s a labor of love.
And it’s worth it. . . for my kids and for every other kid who swims at our club.
May 24, 2013
On Sunday, I bought Swim Girl a new dress for her National Junior Honor Society induction. She tried on a bunch of dresses and chose the one she liked.
Today, she put the dress on and took a good look at herself in the mirror. I don’t know what happened between Sunday and today, but whatever it was, wasn’t good. She started complaining about how ugly she looked, how everyone would make fun of her. The dress, a simple shift dress in greens and blues, looked pretty on her. She looked exactly like a 12-year old girl should look. . . her age. She felt it was too loose around the waist and wanted something to tie around the dress. The waist-tie to her white sweater was nowhere to be found, so with five minutes until we needed to leave, I ran upstairs and searched my closet for something that might work. I found a sweater that tied in the front and brought it down to her. I also grabbed a bunch of pretty barrettes that matched the dress, bought at Charming Charlie’s a while ago.
I helped her fix the sweater and put a carefully placed barrette in her hair. She stood in front of the mirror and said, “I’m so ugly.” She attempted to rip the barrette out but I insisted she wear it. We told her to put her chin up and be happy. This was going to be a big night for her! She moped all the way to school.
We arrived at the school, grabbed a program and found seats. Just as I was settling in, Mr. BBM says, “She’s not in here. She’s not in the program.” I scanned it myself and found her nowhere. Another Mom suggested that maybe she was put with the wrong grade. She wasn’t. I told Mr. BBM he better go tell someone. I imagined them reading names out of the program and my poor Swim Girl standing there, never being called.
Mr. BBM found the principal, told him and he was immediately off to tell the presenters to add her name. After he came back, he announced that a couple kids had been left out of the program, but that they would be printing new ones for all of us tomorrow. He speculated that these kids had turned their papers in late. I know Swim Girl turned it in just two days after her acceptance, a week before the due date.
The ceremony began and the NJHS officers were the main presenters. When it was time to read the names of the 6th graders, they called the names so quickly that the kids were practically running across the stage. When they said Swim Girl’s name, they butchered her last name beyond recognition. It’s not that hard of a last name. It’s five letters for God’s sake.
She made her way across the stage, shook the officer’s hand and waited in front of her guidance counselor for her certificate. He scrambled for a bit, looking through the pile as the presenters continued to rattle through names at warp speed. Eventually he told her he didn’t have one for her and she left the stage empty-handed. I could tell she was devastated. The girl should not ever play poker.
I felt a knot in the back of my throat. My Mom looked like she was going to cry, and I just wanted to stand up and scream that it’s just not fair.
I’m sick of my girl getting the short end of the stick. I’m sick of her being treated like a door mat by some of her supposed friends, and I’m incredulous that the school where she is subjected to snide comments by rude kids is now also the school that called her onto stage, only to send her away with nothing.
When the ceremony was over, one of my good friends came to talk to me and to hug Swim Girl. She had watched it like everyone else. She whispered something in Swim Girl’s ear which prompted a feeble attempt at a smile. As we stood there and I had to start chasing Little Man, the guidance counselor came over and began apologizing to my friend, thinking she was Swim Girl’s Mom. My friend pointed out his mistake and he turned to apologize to me. He said she’d have her certificate tomorrow morning, and I nodded and said “thanks.” I hope my non-poker face told him the whole story. I’m not happy. It’s an oversight that never should have happened, especially when you’re dealing with the already fragile psyche of a middle school girl who already feels like an outsider, the forgotten child, the ignored friend. He couldn’t have picked a worse time or kid to forget.
I’d like to tell them exactly what I think about her being forgotten. I’d like to scream, yell, and let them know how irritated and disappointed I am that they did this to my daughter. But what’s done is already done. Nothing can take away what happened, or how she felt; and there’s nothing that’s going to make it better.
I encouraged her to run for an officer position within the NJHS. That way, she can help to insure that this kind of thing doesn’t happen to anyone else. But right now, her confidence is completely shattered, and that’s not going to happen unless we figure out some way to repair it.
Swim Girl has been begging me to home school her the entire year. I’ve told her “no,” on many occasions and expressed to her how important it is to be part of the school, how she wouldn’t have access to her amazing art teacher, or events like this. I just lost Exhibit B in my case for her staying there. Instead of being a night to remember, it’s one she’d like to forget.
March 15, 2013
I’ve watched people in volunteer leadership roles get chewed up and spit out. It happens time and time again, especially where I live, where people are not known for being super friendly. I’ve seen people resort to absolute stupidity, taking their own personal feelings about issues, and getting their children involved. A couple years ago, a good family friend of ours was President of a local swimming organization. He is a good man and always the diplomat. I listened as kids, who had obviously heard negative things from their parents, said awful things about him in front of his own kids. I couldn’t believe how nasty people could be and how low they could go.
But now I’m seeing it for myself.
This blog has had a self-imposed gag order on it for a long time. Too many people read it and know about it, and frankly, if I can’t write honestly, then there’s just no point in writing. If I have to avoid writing about the things I really want to write about, then why bother? But I’m done feeling that way.
A month ago, the board of the swimming organization I’m co-President of, made a business decision to better the club that a small minority didn’t agree with. The decision was made thoughtfully, not arbitrarily, or on a whim. Since then, the VOLUNTEER board, who spends countless hours daily making sure this club runs properly, grows and thrives (not just exists), has been attacked on a personal level. We’ve had one individual send nasty emails; we’ve had to deal with confrontations that crossed the line of appropriateness. Our friends have been confronted and attacked for supporting our business decision. And worst of all, we’ve seen our children become involved in the ridiculousness of it all.
Every once in a while, our coaches will give the kids an opportunity to end practice early. They choose one swimmer (last week, Swim Girl was chosen because her birthday is this month) to swim a 50 sprint of the coaches choice. They tell the swimmer that they have to swim their 50 in less than however many seconds the coaches decide. If the swimmer does so, practice gets out a couple minutes early. If not, they don’t. Swim Girl was chosen to swim a 50 fly and all the other swimmers are supposed to cheer that person on. I sat in the bleachers and watched as my daughter dove into the water and swam as fast as she possibly could. I couldn’t help but notice how quiet it was in the natatorium. One girl, whose mother has made it her mission to make our business decision as personal as possible, stood on the side of the pool with her arms crossed, refusing to cheer. I watched as she involved the girl standing beside her too, silent, as my daughter swam for all of them to end practice early. When the 50 sprint was over, Swim Girl had met the required time; but the coaches weren’t satisfied due to the blatantly obvious lack of camaraderie among those on deck. Practice continued. As the coaches reprimanded the swimmers about it, I couldn’t help but notice the look on the face of Swim Girl. She’s an 11-year old who swam her third best time ever in the 50 fly in an effort to end practice for all. She did her part; why couldn’t those girls do theirs?
When the coaches made one of the silent girls swim a 50 sprint immediately after, my daughter stood on the edge of the pool, cheering loudly the whole time, despite the fact that she knew the favor had not been returned. That is the kind of daughter I have raised.
Last night, I sat cuddled on the sofa with Little Man and Sassy. We were watching an intense episode of “The Backyardigans” when Sassy said, “There were some moms saying mean things about you in the locker room last night.” I sat bolt upright. “What are you talking about?” I asked her.
“I was in the showers and was talking to my friend. I was telling her that my Mom taught me how to say a bad word in French.” (The “bad word” she’s referring to is derriere, hardly a felony to know how to say “butt” in French; however, to her, it’s a bad word.”) That’s when a Mom standing at the next shower made it a point to say loudly to another mother, and directly in front of my daughter, “The person who taught her that is mean and bad.”
Sassy said she didn’t say another word. She said she wanted to defend me, but her teacher taught her that “if you don’t have anything nice to say, you don’t say it.”
What struck me then was this: my 7-year old has better manners than a grown woman.
We had a long talk about how this lady (described in vivid detail so I know EXACTLY who she is) could have assumed Sassy knew a word much worse than “butt,” and how “butt” is not a bad word. It’s actually just a body part. We also talked about how rude it was for this woman to interject herself into Sassy’s private conversation with her friend; and how inappropriate it is to say anything when you don’t know the whole story. I assured her that I am not a “bad” or “mean” person because she knows how to say a body part in French because of me, and thanked her for telling me about it. It took her 24 hours to tell me, because she was upset about it. She got all teared up as she was telling me.
Perhaps the most bothersome part of this incident is that we have done many personal favors for this woman over the past two years. Clearly, she must have forgotten about the constant allowed late payments that Mr. BBM and I personally approved and arranged. It really makes you want to help out the next person. Clearly, I am a “bad” and “mean” person.
I’ve had some awful things said to me, about me and emailed to me in the past few weeks; but involving my children because you are unhappy with a business decision that four grown adults made on behalf of a swimming club that’s been doing a pretty good job of improving and operating for the past two years, in large part because of these four individuals, crosses the line.
I can hold my own in a verbal battle, but I have chosen to take the high road the last few weeks. I have let the insults roll off my back, because I know the board has the club’s best interests in mind. What I didn’t know, was how ridiculously low some people would stoop.
Swim Girl will frequently tell me about middle school drama and how crazy some of the girls act sometimes. Last week she said she couldn’t wait until she was out of school. I had to break the news to her that the drama and craziness never really ends. Actually, it just gets worse and people get nastier. It is so difficult to take the “high road” and to teach your kids to do the same when there are so few other people doing that as well. But it’s what is right and I’ll continue to do it. I just wish there was a way to make myself and my kids bullet-proof along the way.