Monthly Archives: June 2012

Short Sports Week One: Soccer

I signed the kids up for a couple of summer programs through the Caldwell Rec Department this year.  One is our usual round of swimming lessons, which we start a little later this month.  A new program for them this summer is Short Sports, a weekly class held at the Caldwell Park for kids between the ages of 4 and 6, where the kids get to play one team sport a week during their hour long session.

The kids have been looking forward to the class, and I have too.  Although we spend a lot of time together doing a variety of activities, the kids haven’t yet participated in any organized team sport, and I was anxious to see what they would think of the whole experience.

I, of course, had a pre-conceived notion about how the day would go. 

Since the moment he could walk, Batman has exhibited a profound love of playing with any kind of ball.  I have pictures of him at the age of one, wearing a diaper and playing basketball in the kitchen of our old house with a little plastic basketball hoop.  His hand-eye coordination has always been very well developed for a kid his age, so much so that it has often been commented on by anyone who watches him perform any athletic maneuver. He can throw a baseball in the air and hit it with a bat; he has been able to catch a ball since before he could walk; and throws a ball hard enough that I can rarely catch it. 

OK I hear anyone who has ever met me snickering.  I know I can rarely catch any ball, but Batman throws really hard.  Truly.  

Annabelle, on the other hand, doesn’t mind playing ball, but she doesn’t seek it out either.  She will throw a ball back and forth with her brother for a bit, then gets bored and heads out to play with the dogs or the horses.  She reminds me of myself at her age.  Batman plays with the dedicated single-mindedness he shows anything he is truly interested in.  He will literally play for hours, practicing the same maneuver over and over again.  It is something to watch.

So, when we arrived at Short Sports I was expecting Batman to really be in his element, and Annabelle to be more interested in the social aspect than the actual activity.

The first event of the day was to get their official t-shirts issued. Being contrarians they had to choose opposite colors.

Annabelle in ShirtZach in Shirt

Then they sat down for the team meeting held by their instructor, Troy.

Team Meeting

The first activity was a passing drill.  The kids had to choose partners and pass the ball back and forth.  Of course they chose each other as partners, and soon were lined up for the task.

Lined up to Pass

At first Batman stopped the ball by throwing himself on it rugby-style every time his sister kicked it to him.  You can see him in the position as he waits for the ball.

A Kicks

Finally the instructor came and showed him how to stop the ball with his foot and pass it back.  Then he was in business.  He kicked and kicked, a big smile on his face the whole time.

Z Kicks

The next event was a dribbling drill, where the kids were put into teams of three and had to take turns dribbling the ball down the field and bringing it back. This time Batman and his sister were on different teams, but they were comfortable by then and didn’t mind at all.

Dribbling Teams

After a couple of practice runs, the teams raced to see who could get the ball back and forth the fastest. 

Annabelle Races

The other boys on Annabelle’s team had both played soccer before, and they totally got the concept of winning.  They encouraged her along by cheering and yelling, and their team won both rounds of competition.

Batman had one teammate who had played soccer before, and he also wanted to win. He wasn’t quite as kind in his encouragement though.  I saw him talking earnestly with my little boy, then grasping him by the shoulders and shaking him.  Not too hard.  But shaking him.  Batman just ignored him.

Their team did well too, coming in a close second to Annabelle’s team in both races.

Batman Races

Finally the last event arrived.  A real game.  The coaches separated the kids by their t-shirt colors, so once again Batman and Annabelle were competitors.  When the kick-off came the kids went at it in fierce competition.

I think the coach kind of assumed that all the kids knew how to play soccer, but having never played before, mine didn’t really grasp the idea of getting the ball into the opponent’s net at first.  Annabelle addressed this confusion by aggressively chasing the ball up and down the field, and kicking it as hard as she could in any direction possible.  Batman, on the other hand, just stood back and watched.  He was trying to figure out what the object was before he jumped in.

Annabelle Game

Annabelle had a few good runs with the ball.  None of them were necessarily toward the goal, but she played hard and fast the whole game.  She threw herself on the ground, ran, jumped and kicked with the best of them.

Batman followed along with the other players for most of the game.  He stayed in the middle of the pack and didn’t try to get too close to the ball.  Finally, at the very end of the game it appeared that a light came on for him.  He stole the ball and headed toward the goal.

He kicked it hard and he ran fast.  Right out of bounds.  And then the game was over.

Z Gets Ball

As we left the park, Annabelle was jubilant. The assistant coach congratulated her on her aggressive playing style and told her that she remind her of herself when she was young.  She was flushed and sweating, and breathlessly recounted all the details of her efforts in the game. 

Batman was morose.  “Mom,” he said, “I didn’t get to score a goal.  I wanted to win. Why did we have to stop?”  I told him he did just great and I was proud of how he had improved throughout the game.  I asked him if he would be interested in playing soccer on a real team next fall.

He said he’d think about it.

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Batman Has No Filter

My little Batman has a very unique personality.  Where his big sister is quick to talk, move, and assimilate, he likes to take his time.  At everything.  When he is focused on a subject is is nearly impossible to redirect his attention or energy to something else until he is good and ready to move on.

His methodical approach to bathing, for example, which invariably involves a huge variety of plastic, rubber and occasionally stuffed animals often takes up to an hour. He refuses to be rushed, whether it is in eating his morning waffles or putting on his shoes.  He steadfastly plants his feet when he hears the word “hurry.” 

In fact, I think he believes by this point that “Hurry” is his middle name.


Batman has an absolutely amazing aptitude for remembering seemingly meaningless details, and will often recite these details months after an event with startling clarity.  He recently mentioned a little dog that was in Winston’s puppy training class almost six months ago.  Although Batman only attended the class for one night, the little dog and her owner apparently made a big impression on him, and he asked me out of the blue the other day how I thought Corky and Suzie were doing.  This question was prompted by us driving by the Canyon County Animal Shelter where the puppy classes were held.  He shares the ability to remember locations, even those rarely visited, with his sister, and they can associate events with a building or street a year or two later.  It is amazing.

Another area that Batman is very focused on is that of information gathering. If he is trying to figure something out he will not give it up until he feels he has satisfactorily gotten all the knowledge there is to be had about the subject. He will stand in front of me and ask a question 42 times, in varying ways, until I finally give in an make up an answer, or better yet, look it up on the internet.  He has already figured out that the internet is far smarter than his mother.

This wonderful sense of curiosity is beginning to manifest itself in my little boy’s observations of the differences in the way that people look.  This can be extremely embarrassing. 

We were at Wal-Mart some weeks ago when we saw a young man with no hair. Batman proclaimed at the top of his lungs to every shopper near the milk (also coincidentally the wine) section that “THAT MAN HAS NO HAIR!!!  MOM, LOOK, THAT MAN HAS NO HAIR!  HE IS TOTALLY BALD!!”  Luckily, the man and his buddies laughed, but it was sort of embarrassing. 

Today it was worse.  First we came across a young woman who had her hair cut very very short.  Or it might have been growing back from being bald.  As we approached her, exactly halfway down the stationary aisle (i.e.: no quick exit available) he boomed “MOM!  Is that a BOY or a GIRL?!”  “A girl, son,” I said softly, in my please-keep-your-voice-down voice.  “WHAT?  YOU DON’T KNOW?”  he practically yelled.  (I think he realizes that I am not as young as most of his peers’ mothers and feels that I may be going deaf).   “No,” I said louder.  “She is a girl.”  Of course you know what followed.  “WELL, WHY DOES SHE HAVE HER HAIR LIKE THAT.  THAT IS BOY’S HAIR.  WHY IS HER HAIR LIKE THAT MOM?”  I smiled at the woman and walked away as quickly as I could, telling him that people all looked different and that she just happened to have very short hair. “Think how cool it would be when it’s hot, right son?” I asked him.

Next we went to get diet coke.  Which is also, coincidentally, right next to the wine aisle.  In the diet coke aisle we encountered an elderly woman walking with the assistance of a cane.  “MOM, WHY DOES THAT LADY WALK LIKE THAT?  DON’T HER LEGS WORK VERY GOOD?”  I smiled at the nice lady sheepishly, and told him that sometimes people needed a little help getting around. I finished my shopping with lightning speed, wanting to get out of there before he really offended someone.

We almost made it out of the store.  I had paid for my groceries, and Zach was blissfully quiet though that whole process.  As we started to exit the store, a couple of Wal-Mart employees walked out from an aisle and started down the walkway in front of us.  Batman took one look at them and asked, really loudly, “MOM!  WHAT ABOUT THEM?!  ARE THEY A BOY AND A GIRL OR TWO GIRLS?  MOM!  IS ONE OF THEM A BOY OR ARE THEY BOTH GIRLS?”  Luckily, the two women were walking in front of me, so I hope they didn’t realize we were talking about them.  Although, truth be told, one of them did look a little, well, mannish.

I tell this story partly to document this precious point in my son’s development.  I remember clearly his sister’s passage through the “no filter” stage, though Annabelle has always been pretty quick to understand if I want her to quiet down and ask me something later. 

I also tell this story so that the next time you see Batman you won’t be surprised or offended if he comments on your hairstyle or the way you walk, or asks you to provide a gender determination for yourself.  It’s nothing personal.  He has no filter.

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Batman and the Big Slide

We were thrilled to be invited to a birthday party this past weekend by one of the kids’ former pre-school peers, J.  It was J’s sixth birthday, and his party was to be held at the Monkey Bizness Play Place in Boise.  We were excited both because we would see several old friends at the party, and also because we had heard much about how fun Monkey Bizness was.  In the funny way that timing works, it was coincidentally also Monkey Bizness’ last day in “bizness,” so we were glad we would get to experience it once before it went away.

The first hour of the party was in a private section of Monkey Bizness, separated off from where the public could access the attractions.  Our private room was absolutely dominated by a HUGE inflatable slide.  I am not great at estimating heights, but I would say the top of the slide was a good two stories in the air, if not taller.

Annabelle immediately ran right to the slide and began sliding down, over and over again, laughing hysterically.  She went so fast on the super-tall slide that she was a literal blur as I tried to photograph her.

At the bottom she was all smiles and breathless delight.

Annabelle Bottom Big Slide

Batman, on the other hand, took a more conservative approach.  He started out by playing in the little kids climbing area which was filled with small, unintimidating inflatable obstacles.  He was the only kid playing in that area but he didn’t mind. 

As long as I stayed close.

In the Bouncy

He gradually progressed to a smaller slide in an adjoining area, where he practiced sliding down by himself over and over.

Getting Warmed Up

I wanted to watch Annabelle play too, so I eventually persuaded him to join me and give the big slide a try.  It was with great reservation that he agreed to my request, but he finally did and began the climb up to the launching area.  I admit he did look pretty tiny as he got to the top of the giant slide.

Cimbing the Big Slide

Once he got up there he settled in to watch.  And watch.  And watch.

See, I told you Annabelle was a blur.  She sort of looks like a ghost sliding.  Kind of freaks me out, actually.  But she was real. I was there.

Watching Sissie Slide

Batman refused to listen to me or any of the other parents at the bottom of the slide as we urged him to come on down. 

He did tease us from time to time by dangling his body halfway over the edge, and then scooting back up to the top at the last possible second.

Teasing Us!

I was sure he would go too far one time and end up sliding down accidentally.  But he didn’t.  He just stayed up there. 

For the entire party.

At one point he did come down temporarily, but not by sliding on the big slide.  He bounced down the steps on the climbing rail, which looked pretty uncomfortable to me.


Then he tried to climb UP the slide. That didn’t work out very well.

Climbing Big Slide

So he climbed back up the stairs to the top and sat down again.  Until our time in the private party room was over.

Peeking Over the Top

All the other kids merrily hustled into the adjoining private room to get ready for cake.  But Batman just sat there.  We were the only ones left in the private play room, and the next party of kids was lined up outside the door waiting to come in.

I implored Batman to come down.  He shook his head.  I told him he had to climb down the stairs. He said no. I told him he would miss the cake.  He said he didn’t care.

So I did what any reasonable mother would do under the circumstances.

I abandoned him. 

I knew as soon as I started to walk away toward the cake room that Batman would go over and hustle down the stairs like he did before, so he wouldn’t be left behind.  Batman is by any estimation quite herd-bound.

After I stepped off the platform to leave I glanced over my right shoulder to see if my strategy was working.  Just in time to see Batman launch himself off the top and slide to the bottom with squeals of laughter.

I was so surprised that I did not get even a blurry picture of his big adventure.  When he got to the bottom he immediately began lobbying to do it again. 

I had to practically drag him to the cake room to join the other kids.

Party Room

We had some delicious cake and sang “Happy Birthday” to J.

Then he opened his presents.

Opening Gifts

Is he cute or what?

We had a wonderful time at the party and loved seeing all the kids (and parents). 

Batman talked non-stop all the way home about going down the big slide again. 

I didn’t have the heart to tell him the big slide was no more.

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Summer Fun

We have had some beautiful weather here lately, and the kids are convinced that summer has truly arrived.  We kicked off our summer vacation this week with a trip to Settler’s Park in Meridian, where we met Miss Torrie and some of the other kids from pre-school.

The park has a beautiful play area, and the kids started out with flying high in the swings.

Annabelle Swings High

Batman proceeded in a somewhat more conservative manner.

Zach Swings

There was a lovely slide and play set in the park too, but what the kids were really excited about was the Splash Pad, a water attraction featuring all sorts of nautical themed water fountains and play areas.

When the park workers turned the water on, Batman and Annabelle stripped down immediately and headed for the fun.

Our kids were not the only ones who were excited about the Splash Pad.  The place was packed.

Lots of People

After we played in the water for awhile, we were delighted to welcome Aunt Mel and Cousin Benson, who had come straight over when Benson got out of kindergarten. Aren’t they so cute?

Mel and Benson

The kids played and played in the water.  They stood several times under a big pretend mast that dumped water in unpredictable increments when the “sails” got full. Every time the sails dumped the water they screamed and dived out of the way.

Waiting for the Water

Batman carefully observed the “NO RUNNING” rule that I explained to him approximately forty-two times during the visit.

Zach Runs

As did his sister……….

Annaabelle Runs

And his cousin.

Benson Runs

It really wasn’t all that warm the day we went to the park, so the kids had to take a few breaks to warm up.  The new towels they got from Aunt Melody at pre-school graduation sure came in handy.

Annabelle in Towel

Of course, as with all things, Batman had his own opinion of how to address the situation.

Zach Warms Up

And, as with all events, Batman was mainly there for the food.


But everyone knows that Superheroes cannot live by Cheetos alone, so eventually we made our way to the snack shop for snow cones.

Batman assumed his position back on the towel. 

Zach SnowCone

While Annabelle and Benson settled in on one of the rocks in the climbing area. Benson “cheered” with his snow cone as soon as he saw the camera.  My kind of kid!

A&B On Rock

We all gathered back on the grass for a bit to visit before we headed home.  The cousins had so much fun playing together.  We can’t wait to do it again!

All Three Cousins

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