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Easy like a bird

August 30, 2009

This has been a somewhat peculiar weekend. It would have been a perfectly ordinary weekend if it were, say, October. But the cold weather (highs in the low-mid-60s both Saturday and Sunday and lows around 40 at night) have made it a little chronologically disorienting.

As is typical in the fall, much of our weekend was dictated by AJ’s assorted sporting events. Friday night he had football practice in a nearby town and, for the first time this year, I went to watch [Just to clarify: I don’t go to all the practices — there are so many and I am so not a sports fan — but I watch all the games. I am not a total slacker parent.]. This league is so very different than the league he played in last year in our town. Our town is football crazy. It runs 7 tackle teams for 2nd and 3rd graders. They practice 3-4 times a week for 2 hours, with a game every Saturday. They travel. The high school coach comes out to scout them. It’s insane. The other town is the wealthiest one in our immediate area and one of the wealthiest Chicago suburbs. Although they are part of the same league as the one in our town, they only have 1 tackle team in AJ’s age group, or maybe two. The rest of the kids play flag. After attending a few games and practices, I am building up quite a stereotype of parents in this town. Let’s compare and contrast.

In our town, talk is of vacations tubing behind motorboats on the river down the road. In the other town, I overhear people comparing notes on vacations in the Hamptons and on Nantucket. In our town, dads wear flip flops and Nascar hats. In the other town, they are barefoot in Italian loafers and spin the keys to their expensive cars on their fingers while they walk up and down the sidelines talking on their iPhones. In our town, people drive enormous SUVs. In the other town, there are BMWs and Lexuses and Priuses. In our town, the dads bark at the kids who are misbehaving. In the other town the moms (are they all blonde?) plead with their children to behave and then sigh disconsolately when they don’t and turn to another parent as if to say, “But what can I do?” In our town, the boys practice on crowded fields in mosquito-ridden near-swampland. In the other town, they play under lights on brand new, state-of-the-art artificial turf.

Friday night, the other parents were getting to us and we took a drive to a nearby lake to watch ducks take off and land for a while. It was fun.

On Saturday morning, we headed to one of the fancy fields to watch AJ make the only touchdown for his team, which, alas, lost. It’s going to be a long season, I think. AJ is a little frustrated. While the football in our town was more intensity than he wanted, the kids also worked. The kids on his team this year don’t pay attention and the level of play is poor. I think he’s a little bored.

Saturday afternoon was largely spent arguing with AJ, who was in a fiercely argumentative state of mind. He has been very difficult to deal with in a teenagery kind of way for the last couple of months, but the start of school seems to have made it even worse. He is both desperate for more independence and entirely incapable of dealing with it when he gets it. We are trying hard to help give him the tools to be more independent and it seems to be working, at least somewhat, but he has good days and bad days and this weekend was of the latter type– thoroughly exhausting.

Today was much better. We went to watch his first fall baseball game and his first ever game where the kids pitched. AJ didn’t pitch today, but he did steal two bases on his second walk. There is a lot of walking and stealing in this league. It’s a whole new ball game and AJ is excited to be there.

In addition to sports, I did a lot of cooking this weekend, inspired by the fall weather and craving some of my favorite autumn dishes. Friday night I made pot roast, in an oniony winey broth that rivaled Julia Child’s French onion soup for flavor. Saturday night is our radio night. I cook dinner while listening to A Prairie Home Companion, we eat it listening to The Moth, and we wash up to American Routes. I made a vat of split pea soup and served it with a salad of mixed greens, carrots and tomatoes, all picked from my garden. Tonight I roasted a chicken seasoned with fresh lavender and thyme. I love cooking on the weekends almost as much as I hate cooking during the crush of the week.

Tomorrow is the first Monday morning of the school year. AJ is looking forward to it, although he’s a little nervous about the prospect of homework, which his teacher has said is coming this week. Tomorrow he is supposed to get his first spelling list of the year. He loves spelling, probably because he almost never makes a mistake. And we think, although we’re not sure, that the gifted pull-out program may start tomorrow. More on that at AJ’s Clubhouse. In any case, there’s a lot for him to look forward to, and for that I am very grateful.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. August 30, 2009 9:42 pm

    Your weekend sounds delicious. I’ve never thought of lavender and chicken together, interesting.

  2. August 30, 2009 10:17 pm

    Think Herbes de Provence and it doesn’t sound so odd. I usually just use dried Herbes de Provence, but this time I added some of the fresh herbs from the garden instead to bury the over-present tarragon flavor. Worked like a charm.

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