Thursday, October 8, 2009

Serenity Now! Rick's Softball Tournament

While Rick was busy rounding the bases and trying to help his team advance to the finals, which unfortunately they fell just short of, Ada was busy trying to recover from a fun-filled day at the baseball diamonds.

For the past 4 years, Rick has been a very active member of his company softball team. It's a design league filled mostly with Architects and Interior Designers and the like. They've been doing this for years and he's become a consistent member of his firm's team. They play on Thursday nights and then they go drink and be merry, hopefully celebrating a W in the win column but frequently just drowning their sorrows. Each season culminates in a Saturday softball tournament in which each team is guaranteed at least two games, or maybe it's three.

The first year I was the supportive wife and guardian of all the food, beer and other necessary supplies needed for the festivities.

The second year, I was pregnant with Ada so I again got to watch all the stuff and make everyone jealous that I had this fancy, reclining camping chair to lounge in while they were hot and sweaty from running the bases.

The third year, I was also dubbed "mom" since I was now a mom and the only person who happened to carry bandages in her diaper bag for when the guys got blisters or raspberries from sliding into base.

This year I got to be Ada's herder, entertainer, sunscreen apply-er, cook, and distract-or since she was old enough to get into everything and she hated it when daddy was on the field because it meant she couldn't play with him. Oh the fits she threw.

Let me back up to the start of this Saturday. We were in charge of getting ice and bringing our cooler. We were already running late because that's what happens when you have a kid and are trying to get somewhere by 9 am and have to pack for a whole day of being outside in the middle of a park. Rick's all worried they will start without him or not have enough players and get disqualified so he's driving a bit faster than I can appreciate. We stop at the local CVS to get ice and, of course, it's in the back of the store. I ask the clerk if I can pay for it quick and then go get it. No. Of course not. She needs the bar code. Isn't CVS a convenience store? Guess not. So I go back to get the ice and get up to the registers behind t-h-e s-l-o-w-e-s-t p-e-r-s-o-n i-n t-h-e u-n-i-v-e-r-s-e. Painfully, I wait, while holding a big, cold, bag of ice. I have my money out and ready to go. I've been hustling through the store. It's clear that I am in a hurry. Finally, after at least 45 seconds to buy something stupid like a pack of gum, it's my turn. She scans the ice, I hand her the money. "Do you have a CVS card?" "Yes, but I'm not getting it out. I left it in the car. This purchase isn't worth it." and I wanted to add "AND I'M IN A HURRY GOSH DARN-IT!

Great. Got the ice. We drive downtown to, is it Grant Park? I'm not sure what they call it. I think it's just south of Grant Park so it probably has some other name like Mayor Daley Park or something silly like that. Once we get close, Rick is ecstatic to see that all the roads are blocked off for some parade. Mexican Fiesta or something like that. And then Gaelic Fest is just north of that, in the actual Grant Park. GREAT! We detour at high speed with Rick's patience running even thinner. I'm next to him saying, "Honey, slow down. Don't worry. We can't be the only ones running late. Even if we are, they always have a ten minute forfeiture rule before you get disqualified so it will be okay." It doesn't really work but at least I tried.

We decide to park. It's 9:06 when I go to pay the parking machine for the day. Of course, it we were in by 9am, it would only be $10 but it's 9:06 so now it's $18 for the day. "Are you @$#%^&* kidding me!!!" I scream. Then I mentally try to calm myself down. Rick unloads the car and picks everything up, as if he is a pack mule, and starts to carry what he can to the field -- which is a good 4 blocks away I'd say. That's half of a mile. Yeah. Ouch.

I'm in charge of Ada and the diaper bag, her stroller and another bag. He's in a hurry so I suggest he goes on ahead and we'll follow. With that much stuff, we can't hold him back or he'll pass out and never get to play in today's tournament. As he leaves, Ada and I try to keep up but we fail. And that makes Ada mad. No. It was more than mad. It was pissed off to the millionth degree. Oh the tantrum she threw. It was, and still is to this day, the biggest tantrum I have ever seen from her. She threw her body onto the ground. She kicked her legs and slapped her hands. She was screaming at the top of her lungs. Her face was bright red. She was shaking her head back and forth as her hair flopped back and forth with it. She was MAD. I let her work it out for about two minutes and couldn't stand her making such a scene on the street this early. I got her off the ground and tried to settle her down. I put all of my bags into her stroller -- we could only fit the cheap little umbrella stroller in the trunk so it doesn't hold much and I still have the diaper bag on my shoulder--and she insists on pushing the stroller to the fields. Fine by me. She starts pushing it and I have my hand on the handle to help guide it. NO. That's not what she wants. She pushes my hand away. Then another tantrum. Same as before.

I wait another two minutes for it to pass. Wow. This is going to be a l-o-n-g day.

We get started again. She's pushing the stroller toward the street and getting stuck at the break for the alley. I'm trying to help and again, tantrum.

We get to the corner of Michigan Avenue and have to cross four lanes of traffic when the light turns. She wants to go now but we have the orange hand keeping us right where we are. The whining starts as a half dozen people have now gathered with us at the crosswalk. After what felt like four eternities, the light finally changed in our favor and we got to cross the street. She went slow and insisted on doing it herself. Whining the whole way. We made it and I silently thank God for letting us get this far. We've really only made it a block and a half. I'm mentally exhausted. This really isn't going well.

I get Ada into a park that runs along Michigan Avenue and she looks like a drunk toddler pushing this cart all over the sidewalk in anything but a straight line. She wants to go east but we need to go North. Another tantrum. Fine. Do it your way. We start to go east. Then, thankfully, Rick comes running through the park and saves me. Just like that.

I responded with "You're lucky you came back for me because I just might have given her away to the next person I saw."

It was that bad.

Luckily, he somehow managed to calm her down and help me get everything to the baseball diamonds. We were on the far side of the field, of course, and had to walk another five minutes before we could get settled but, in the end, we made it. We set up camp and I had, not one but yes, TWO glazed donuts. That's when things started looking up for me.

Moral of the story: When parenting is at it's worst, I remember the episode of Seinfeld where Frank learns to deal with stress by yelling "Serenity Now!" It's good to have something like that in your own stress management toolbox.

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