Sunday, May 12, 2013

My Mother Read My Tea Leaves

Tea Reading Symbols
Some time in high school, my mother started a tradition of serving me tea as soon as I got home from school. A formal tea with a silver teapot and china cups. She was Canadian and swore by Red Rose black tea, It was steeped  to be nice and strong, and she always served me sweets. She made the tea with loose leaves were used instead of tea bags, which provided the extra advantage of being readable. And, she told me she knew how to read tea leaves. I was gullible enough to believe this and when I had finished my cup I was to turn it upside down on the saucer, turn it three full rotations to the left and then hand it over to my mother for a reading. The one I remember best was that if a tea leaf was on the edge of the cup, it meant I was going to get a letter. Yes, very likely in those times. What else could she divine from the leaves? She could always find something in the cup that suggested I was in a fight with someone or that something was going on in my love life.

I am the mother of teenaged boys now and we don't share thus tradition. It's hard to read the remains of a bottle of Gatorade and the crusts of a peanut butter and jelly and sandwich.

What she was reading, I now realize, was me. What better way to get a teenager to talk than to fill her up with caffeine and sugar and suggest that interesting things would be coming in the mail or happening with a male.  She got me talking about my life and confiding in her, She achieved the impossible dreams when it comes to teens.

Well played, Lynn Warren, well played.

My mother the tea leaf reader

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Co-ed volleyball mom

Adam spikes it
Over my years of parenting, I have been a Gymboree mom, a baseball mom, a soccer mom, a tennis mom and a basketball mom. But only last spring when my son made the team did I discover that the best spectator sport a mom could ask for is coed volleyball.

First of all, matches are held in gymnasiums. There is no need to schlepp fold-up chairs and pray that that the weather you will be enduring for the next two hours will not be painfully cold, raining, or sweltering.

I knew nothing about volleyball when my son started other than the fact that I envied Misty May Treanors’ abs every Olympic season.  There are lots of rules I don’t understand and a certain formality not seen in other sports, the referee must be on the ladder and blow the whistle before the serve can begin, when team members rotate they have to formally meet on the sidelines and put their palms together to officially check out while the scorekeeper amends the records. I don’t think I will ever understand the subtleties of the scoring. The point goes to the other team sometimes when I think we got it because of a variety of problems—the player can touch the ball twice (“carrying”) ; the player has touched the net; they didn’t include a girl in the rotation; the ball hit the red pole, etc.

All of these infractions are indicated by the ref on the ladder in some sort of sign language. So I just watch the scoreboard and ask lots of questions to parents with more experience. Also, unlike tennis, a sport I do understand, lets are okay and unforced errors elicit tremendous cheering.

The co-ed team put their arms around each other between each point, win or lose they are supportive of each other. These huddles have become choreographed to reflect the way they won the point; if the point is won by an ace serve they go into the huddle backwards and bump butts. If it is a “tap over” the net they all come to the huddle and do a tap over move with their hands up in the air.  Scorers get high fives and players who missed a point get a pat on the back or hug. They are a close team--so close that they want to spend time together off the court. Last season a few of the mothers found themselves surprised to say yes to three co-ed team sleepovers. One of the senior girls had a mega manse with a floor for each gender.  Unfortunately she graduated and the tradition did not continue this year.

The huddle
The cuteness factor of a huddle of fit, happy teenagers is almost too much to describe. The girls wear shorts that we would have once called hot pants.  Their legs are absolutely perfect. Their hair is usually swinging around in a cute ponytail. They are all happy and smiling and having fun, unlike most of the other varsity sports where it is all business. And the team was really good this year, they made it through the first round of the playoffs, and then, last night, I’ll let the coach describe what happened:
 The game plan for Northwest was easy considering they were a number 2 seed playing Whitman, a number 10 seed in the quarterfinals.  They were supposed to show up at 5:15, beat Whitman in three and make it home in time for a lukewarm Chipotle burrito and a re-run of “The New Girl.”  Whitman had different plan: Take the match to 5 games and be home by 8PM for mom’s home cooking and an episode of “What’s Happening?” on Nick at Nite.

Fred Berry would have been proud of what the Vikes accomplished.  They took Northwest to the limit and exposed their weakness quite well.  The final scores were:


The team ends their season with a strong 7-6 record, but shines a light on the potential for next year.”

That's my boy

So in sum, my son has chosen the best varsity sport in school—it is a spring sport with a short season that never interferes with spring break (as many do); it is fun, it is happy, the team is extremely fond of one another; there are cute girls involved and it is held indoors. And as the coach says, the future is looking bright. I can hardly wait for next season.

Our fearless coach