Coach’s Wife

The minute I knew I’d be a Coach’s Wife forever came almost two years ago when my husband returned home from his first practice. The gig: First Grade Little Dribblers Basketball.

ME: “So, how’d it go?”

LOML: “Oh. My. GOD! It was like . . . like . . . Ohmygod. There’s this one kid. And he’s like, I don’t know, supertall. And he’s like . . . like . . . OhmyGOD hon, I think KOBE is trapped in this little kid’s body!”

ME: “Okay, so, you’ve got one kid on your team.”

LOML: “Shut up.”

But I knew. I KNEW.

He was hooked.

And then at the first game, I saw first hand how it would always be with him.

He felt the pain and disappointment of every missed shot. And the joy and excitement of every basket and free throw made. He was like a visual equalizer, bouncing and moving to the pulse of the team.

Even the parents in line at the snack bar could see it. It was an “away” game, so they didn’t know him personally. Behind me, I overheard one parent said to another, “That coach is friggin’ HILARIOUS. Dude’s all covered in sweat and shit from being all over the friggin’ court.” And then the other parent said, “Dude’s gettin’ the shit done, though. Hell he’s motivatin’ ME and I ain’t even a player!”

Fast forward to October 2010.

Jake was still smack in the middle of football season when the LOML decided to coach basketball again.

New school. New team. New drama. (Yes, there’s drama with 2nd grade basketball.) And even though there was a point during the season when I had to physically keep him from going after a parent who picked a fight with him not once, but TWICE in a span of 5 minutes (in addition to using profanity in front of Benny), he STILL maintained he was having the time of his life. Most of the team’s parents also maintained that if it weren’t for Troy (and his awesome assistant coaches), they probably wouldn’t have signed their kids up to play.

And at the end of basketball season, I settled in to what I thought would be a nice break before football when he got a request to coach little league.

And all I can say about THAT is I hated that he chose to do it, but glad he did it. If that makes sense at all.

Two weeks after the last baseball game, we signed Jake up for football. At the same time,Troy submitted his application for a coaching position on Jake’s team. A few days after that, he got a call to meet with the head coach.

When he returned home, I could tell he seemed disappointed.

“They’ve got too many apps for Jake’s team. The guy wants me to coach up one level because they need more people up there. I think he’s worried that I’ll let being Jake’s dad get in the way of coaching the rest of the team.”

And, after much discussion, we came to the conclusion that it was all or nothing – either coach Jake’s team, or take a seat in the stands.Troy called the coach to let him know, and that was the last we had heard of it.

In the mean time,Troy continued to toss the ball around and run drills with the boys in the front yard, getting Jake ready for the upcoming season.

Then yesterday, after I returned home from the grocery store, the LOML said, “What’s for dinner? Coach is HUNGRY.”

It only took a second for me to realize what he was telling me.

He got the job.

ME: “Wait . . . What?!!”

LOML: “Yep! I’ll be an assistant. Probably O-Line.”

And then he smiled. And his blue eyes did that thing that they always did when he knew he’d be coaching.
L

Father and son playing football in front yard.

 

ME, to Benny: “What’s mama’s name?”

BENNY: “Kaftheen.”

ME: “And what’s daddy’s name?”

BENNY AND JAKE [Together, in unison]: “Coach.”

18

07 2011

Frankenstory Friday: My Brother’s New Hearing Aid

Well, boys and girls . . . It wouldn’t be FRIDAY without a little Frankenstory, now would it?!

[Scroll through the story S-L-O-W-L-Y. Try not to get a look at the picture below until you are done reading all the text!]

A couple of weeks ago, I hosted a graduation party at my house for my sister niece. It was a fantastic affair — kids bouncing in a bounce house, plenty of food and liquor, and of course, Frank was in attendance.

Two hours in, he decided to relax on the couch and watch TV. When I sat down next to him, he turned to me and said, “You know that Steve wears a hearing aid?”

Bewildered (but I suppose not all that surprised) that he would use that as a conversation opener, I said, “Who’s ‘Steve’? Terry’s ‘Steve”? Or my brother ‘Steve’”?

Frustrated that I didn’t get it the first time, he quipped, “Your bro-therrr.”

ME: “Steve wears a hearing aid?”

FRANK: “That’s what I said.”

ME: “Nawww! Since when?”

FRANK: “Oh, I don’t know. For a while now, I guess. Big one too. It’s not one of those small pieces of shit that disappear in your ear either. It’s good size. Real nice.”

ME: “Is he wearing this hearing aid right now?”

FRANK: “Yup. Go see for yourself!”

So I went out into the backyard and zig-zaged through the maze of tables and food, and found my brother.

After he turned his head and I got a good look, I laughed so hard in his face that his sunglasses almost fell off his head. I doubled over, covered my mouth with my hand, and did the best I could from peeing my pants.

STEVE: “Jesus Kathleen, what the hell?”

ME: [Pointing to his ear] “Do you know that dad thinks THAT’S a hearing aid?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

15

07 2011

Filling the Void

Truth be told, my life is not complete unless I’m writing. And I’m not sure why it took so long for me to figure that out.

Maybe because I’ve been so preoccupied this past year, watching almost helplessly as my job, children, and unexpected drama slowly took over my life. It happens. Kids start growing up. Decisions need to be made so they can have a better chance to excel in school and athletics. Dads become coaches. Mom becomes a coach’s wife and supermom all while struggling to remain focused at a job that had doubled its duties and hours. I was a mess.

So I thought, “Something needs to go.” And out went shooting and blogging. I couldn’t keep photography appointments when my days kept getting longer and longer. And I sure as hell couldn’t blog because who the hell has time for THAT anymore, especially if they have a 3-year-old son who keeps trying to poop his pants while hiding in the closet?

BUT, even though I was not writing and shooting, I managed to FACEBOOK AND TWEET LIKE HELL. Updating everyone on just about everything, which helped me keep my sense of humor.

Would love to be on #maternity leave without the hassle of the whole “having a baby” thing. #lazy #badparent

I just watched a dog play the accordion. And no, IM NOT DRUNK.

If there was a doctor who would prescribe it RIGHT THIS MINUTE, I’d totally give Benny ritalin. He just broke a cash register at Costco. Yes, I AM THAT MOM RIGHT NOW.

I told him [the LOML] that I made “#Friday” my ringtone, and he said, “You mean the ‘Just Got Paid’ song?” #seriously

Forgot my phone was in my bra, so u can imagine my surprise when #pandora started up. Music to my boobs! AT WORK. #awkward

In fact, after just about every Facebook post, someone would say, “You need to put that on your blog.” And I’d be all “what blog”? I don’t write anymore! Writing is for people who have time to sit and think and gather thoughts that are RELEVANT. I barely have time to make sure I’m wearing UNDERWEAR before I leave in the morning, let alone be a blogger again. No way. That part of my life is behind me! Right?

What I didn’t realize was that I was, indeed, WRITING. Just in small bursts. Just enough to keep me from losing my mind. And I JUST HAD to share what was happening, because dammit, if I was going to experience the kind of crazy ass shit that was going on in my life, I was going to do it with anyone with a cell phone and a connection to Facebook or Twitter. I did NOT want to be alone.

Whenever I picked up my phone to post something, the LOML would give me one of his “sideways” looks and say, “Now what?” and I’d reply, “It’s the closest thing I can get to blogging. Give a sister a break. I miss it, you know . . .” And then he’d say, “So, go blog,” and then we’d get into it about how we never have time to do anything anymore because we’re so busy. Which was a whole new experience to us, since we weren’t used to arguing.

And just when I thought I was going to go off the deep end, things at the office settled down, and I was back to working the awesome hours that lured me to the company in the first place. I was getting part of my life back.

My afternoons and evenings would be free of my work laptop, and *I* would be free to do other things.

Free to shoot. Free to write. Free to Zumba. Free to start addressing some of the drama that had been piling up.

Free to hit happy hour on the way home.

I don’t know how long this is going to last. But I don’t care. I’m writing and shooting again.

And I am whole.

15

07 2011

The One Where Jacob Was Brave and Taught His Class About What It’s Like to Be Bullied

I would be remiss not to share this story with you, since bullying is on the minds of so many people right now.

And, it’s lengthy, just like most of my other posts.

But I beg you to READ IT.

Then forward it to all the parents, aunts, uncles, caregivers, babysitters, and educators that you know.

Because this story has a happy ending. And it contains a message that something positive CAN result from a negative situation.

Gay (as well as straight) children and teens are committing suicide at an epidemic pace because they are being teased and bullied. I say children because some of these kids aren’t even 13 when they choose to end their lives over these vicious attacks on their character.

As a parent, I will not tolerate teasing and bullying. If another child comes at either of my boys sideways EVEN ONCE, they — AND THEIR PARENTS — are going to hear about it. If it continues, then we will go so far as to remove our boys from the scenario entirely.

Troy and I also taught Jake at an early age that teasing and bullying is unacceptable, and if he ever experienced it, to tell a teacher right away.

Jake’s been through his fair share of torment, just like any other kid, and for the most part has handled it like you’d expect a kid to handle being teased: He didn’t like it, told a teacher, and got over it.

These past couple of months, however, have been extraordinarily tough for Jake.

In August, he was supposed to start the 2nd grade at a school that he’d been attending since Kindergarten. This was a place where he was most comfortable — he loved that school and felt at ease with even the oldest of the 8th graders.

Then he decided that he wanted to play football — just like “that,” after attending one practice.

He didn’t even know how to PLAY football. Didn’t know the rules. And certainly didn’t know that he’d have to wear a helmet and pads on 100+ degree days.

He just knew that when he put the uniform on and went out onto the field, it felt right. It fit. And he wanted in.

The problem was, that, the school he loved so much changed their academic structure, and if he was to attend in the fall, he’d be kept in class until 5:00pm. Which didn’t leave much time to get to practice, which started at 5:30pm.

Those of you who know us personally know that we tried everything we could to get the school to allow Jake to leave at 4:00pm on practice days, but were ultimately shut down in our attempt to find common ground between Jake’s athletic commitments and the administration’s firm stance on the new school schedule.

So, Jake gave it all up.

He gave up the friends he knew, the school that he loved, and the environment that was so comfortable to him — all so he could participate in a sport that he’d never even played before.

That alone should be a testament to his character.

But apparently (as I just learned today), Jacob’s character knows no boundaries.

At seven years old, standing 4’7″ tall and weighing 115 pounds, Jake’s a sizeable kid. But he doesn’t look like he weighs 115 pounds. He just looks like a big kid that could do some damage if he wanted to. Yet, anyone who knows my Jacob knows that HE WOULDN’T HURT A FLY.

So much so that his coaches are punishing him for not being aggressive enough on the football field. They scream, “HIT SOMEBODY, LANCASTER! FOR CHRIS’SAKES THEY’VE GOT PADS ON! YOU’RE NOT GOING TO KILL THEM!!”

This kid can open a hole like nobody’s business, and can also hold his own against two defenders while STANDING ON HIS BACK FOOT. But he doesn’t want to HURT anybody. Safe to say he’s the nicest player that the Sacramento Youth Pee Wee Football League has ever seen.

So you can imagine my emotional torment when I picked him up from school this past Monday and he announced to me that he wanted to change schools at the end of the year.

“Why? What happened?”

“These two girls were being really mean to me, and they poked me [pointing to his chest and belly] and called me fat.”

“WHO DID THIS? Were they older girls?”

“No, they were from my class.”

Now, my first reaction was to turn the car around and confront the teacher since I’d not heard anything about it. Which in itself was quite unusual, because his teacher is one of the most engaging and brilliant educators I’ve ever met.

“Did you tell the teacher.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Then what happened?”

“They got in trouble. Bad trouble.”

Okay, I thought, she’s got his back. I can come in from the ledge now.

Then, after we got home, I found a note in Jacob’s backpack:

“Dear Mr. & Mrs. Lancaster,

Today during lunch recess a couple of girls were teasing Jacob. He was very upset (I would have been too).

I spoke with both girls to try and explain the seriousness of their actions. They will be in tomorrow at recess.

I hope that this doesn’t happen again.

Please, bring it to my attention if it does and I will discuss it with them further. I don’t believe they meant to hurt him, but it hurt Jacob just the same.

Thank you & Sorry”

After I wiped the tears from my eyes, I asked Jacob if he was okay, and he said yes. Then I asked him if he wanted to talk about it, and he said no. Then I explained to him that sometimes kids are mean, and I really didn’t know why — maybe because someone had been being mean to them and they want to take it out on someone else. He seemed fine with that, and, when I asked him if he wanted me to talk to his teacher about it, he said no, because his “teacher got the girls in trouble.” So I left it at that.

But I was heartbroken for my son. The whole scenario must have been SO AWFUL FOR HIM. I never, EVER wanted this to happen to Jacob, and I felt a pang of guilt for encouraging him to switch schools just so he could play football.

Then today, as I was walking down the school corridors to pick him up from school, his teacher flagged me down and asked me if he told me about “what he did.”

“No . . . what happened?”

“Okay. Did you get my note?”

“Yes.”

And then we talked a little bit about what he said to me, and why she didn’t hear from me after it happened, and how we both felt absolutely horrible about the situation. She also let me know that she spoke to both of the girls’ parents, who were as equally distressed as we were.

“You should be proud of him. He did a VERY brave thing.”

Then she proceeded to tell me something so profound about my son that it made me cry.

And I’m still crying as I write this, pausing in between sobs to type.

First, she explained that she kept the girls in from recess THREE TIMES in one day. In the morning, she had them write a note of apology to Jacob. After lunch, she edited the notes and made them re-write them. In the afternoon, she looked the notes over one more time. Then she made the girls apologize to Jacob in person (again), and asked them to give him the notes.

He must have kept the notes in his classroom folder, because I never saw them.

The following day, he asked the teacher if he could share the notes with his class. At first, the teacher was reluctant to let him do it, and said that she intended them to be just for Jacob.

But he persisted, and asked again if he could read them aloud in class.

Now, I have to stop for a minute and explain to you that reading out loud is Jacob’s KRYPTONITE. He HATES to read out loud. But he felt a need to share his experience with his class, and convinced his teacher to let him go forward.

So, in front of a class that he barely knew, doing something that he openly despised, he began to read the notes.

Then, something else happened as he started his mission: Another new student — newer than Jacob, and a little girl who has just as much fear of reading out loud as he does — stood at his side and held his hand. Even putting her head on his arm when things got difficult.

And as Jake read the notes out loud and explained what it felt like to be teased and bullied, the class listened attentively. Some of the kids, including the girls in question, had tears streaming down their face. Jacob’s teacher also cried.

When he was finished, his teacher made sure that the entire class could see her reaction. She wanted them to know that what Jake had done was extremely brave, and that bullying would not be tolerated.

After a few minutes had passed, the kids began raising their hands.

Because THEY wanted to talk about how they had experienced being bullied too.

As Jacob’s teacher was telling me the story, I was bursting with pride and wet from tears and feeling terribly guilty for not believing that he could do something so bold.

But that’s not the end.

Later that day (the day Jacob read out loud to his class), as his teacher was cleaning up, she began to find little folded up pieces of paper.

They were notes.

Notes from students who were apologizing to others for acting like a bully.

“I’m sorry for treating you badly.”

“I’m sorry if I hurt you.”

“I’m sorry that I made you cry.”

All because Jake decided that he’d had enough.

He didn’t hide his feelings. He didn’t run away from the problem.

He instead chose to face bullying head-on, and perhaps changed the lives of his classmates forever.

01

10 2010

How I Spent My Last 30 Days

Not too long ago, I made it abundantly clear that I wanted to take my photography to the next level and go pro.

Over the past 30 days, I’ve been running around like a mad woman making that possible.

I’ve always known that photography was my calling. Whenever I got a new camera, I wanted the images that I took to look like Ralph Lauren ads. And over the past year, I’ve been busting my ass practicing, reading, and practicing some more in order to make that happen.

On my birthday (September 17), I officially opened for business.

It was a bittersweet moment for me, because it meant that most of my (relatively non-existent) free time would be consumed by photo shoots and post-processing and schmoozing new clients, leaving little time left to write on this blog.

But do not fret, dear readers. I will not abandon this place entirely.

I’ll pop in from time to time and post Frankenstories or Conversations with Jake (and soon to come: Conversations with Benny). And maybe even sprinkle in a few LOUD stories or McDonald’s escapades.

I love my “Mama Blog,” and I will always leave it open to comments and suggestions, and will always be back to write something. Even if it takes 12 months between posts to do it.

In the mean time, won’t you come over to my new digs and check out what I’ve been up to? (By the way, if you’re in Northern California, and know of anyone interested in Senior or Family Portraits, send them my way! I’m VERY reasonably priced!)

And if you’re feeling the love, subscribe to my RSS feed so you can get my daily updates and photo shoot sneak peeks.

Thank you all — you have no idea how much your loyalty and friendship mean to me.

With much love and crazy humor,

Mama

f

f

f

f

f

28

09 2010