Dear Snarky – The Little League Briber

little_league_baseballDear Snarky,

 My son is 11 and plays Little League baseball. There is a boy on his team that is really ticking me off.  This kid’s family has what I’m guessing are very nice seats at all of the Royals games. It’s like a suite or something.

 The child is using his family’s fancy tickets as bribes to get the other boys to do stuff for him. For instance, he told my son last week that if he would say he was hurt and couldn’t pitch, thereby allowing this kid to be pitcher, he could go to a Royals game over the Memorial Day weekend.

 Do I say something to the coach, the parents, who are way stuck up and I’m a little afraid of, or do I just let it go and bite my tongue?

 Signed, Mad Baseball Mama

Dear Mad Mama,

 It sounds like you have a royal pain on your son’s team. Sadly, it wouldn’t be Little League season without some crazy going on and a kid bribing other pladear_snarky_logo-1yers, well, that’s a cray-cray home run.

 That said, I would definitely say something to the coach. He or she needs to know that another player is attempting to mess with the roster via a little ticket payola.  At the very least it’s horrible sportsmanship.

 As for the parents that’s a harder call. If you’re already uncomfortable around them I don’t know if I would say anything. There’s a very good chance they could laugh it off or even do that lame “boys will boys.” They might even be proud of their spawn’s “ingenuity.”

 What I would do is treat this a teachable moment and emphasis to your son that real friendship can’t be bought and that he should feel sorry for his teammate who feels he has to use Royals tickets to get and manipulate friends. The poor kid is striking out in the game of life.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky “21st Century Advice With An Attitude” email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com or private message me on the Snarky Facebook page.

Dear Snarky – Little League Survival Tips

dear_snarky_logoI get a lot a letters from parents about kid’s sports, but nothing has compared to the sheer volume of letters I’ve received this spring about Little League. 

Those of you who follow Snarky in the Suburbs on Facebook are aware of the “Drama of the Little League Jersey.” A mom wrote me because her son, through luck of the draw, had gotten a jersey with a #1 on it and another mom was so upset because her kid wanted that jersey that she complained to the coach and started badgering the mom.

I took the question about what should the mom do – give up the jersey to maintain peace on the team or stand firm on keeping it – to my Facebook page and I got more than 1,500 passionate responses. Most were to the tune of tell the whiny mom to get over herself.

Just in case you’re wondering that’s exactly what the mom did and guess what? The mom that so desperately wanted the #1 jersey for her kid quit the team!

 So based on that letter and the many others I’ve received I decided to do some Little League Survival Tips for Moms.

Tip 1: Think long-term. With practices and regular season games you are going to be sitting on the bleachers for at least 40 hours. Do you really want to spend all that time feeling uncomfortable because you chose to let something as silly as a jersey number upset you? My advice is before you decide to mix it up with the coaches and other parents make sure it’s worth it because you’re going to be spending a whole lot of time together in very close proximity.

Tip 2: Be Open to Change. So, your kid didn’t get on the team with all his friends from school. Instead of this being a downer think of it as a great opportunity for you. We all know this gives your child a chance to make new friends, but even better it opens up your social circle. It’s hard to make new friends when you get older. Really, who has the time? But with your child being on a new team this is a golden opportunity for you to bond with some new people. Some of the best friends I have right now are women I met through one of my daughter’s activities.

Tip 3: Don’t Let Your Practice Snack Define You. I know a lot of you are thinking – huh? But here’s the deal – Don’t be the mom who gets her baseball pants in a twist over snacks. (Warning: I am not talking about food allergies. I know those are life threatening and should be handled with the utmost of care and consideration.) There’s always one mom, on every team, who turns something as innocuous as a team treat into a Snack Smackdown.

If you are opposed to the dozen doughnuts decorated to look like baseballs that a mom has brought for a 7th inning nosh quietly tell your kid to say no thank you. DO NOT launch into a “This is why kids are obese” tirade or start listing the trans fats, red dye #2, carbs and calorie count. Your family’s nutritional intake is your own private business so let’s keep it that way.

Tip 4: Be Nice to the Coach. If you’re one of those moms that always thinks her kid gets the worst coach ever be proactive and sign up to be a coach or assistant. If you can’t do that then I suggest keeping your criticisms silent or at least tempering them with some positive thoughts. Other parents and Karma will thank you.

Tip 5: The Worst Team Maybe the Best Team. Don’t be upset because your kid, in your opinion, is on the worst team get over it and rejoice.There are a lot of pluses about being on a bad team. If your kid is half way decent he or she will get loads of playing time, learn a whole bunch of valuable lessons that only losing can teach you and in the words of one veteran Little League mom it frees up most of your summer and cash. If you kid’s team wins there goes your vacation because of play-offs and championship game schedules. Instead of being at a beach say hello to riding the bleachers in Topeka.

If you have a question for Dear Snarky email me at snarkyinthesuburbs@gmail.com

Batter Up – Part Two

team_snarky_closeup_grandeNothing irritates me more than when my children treat me like I’m an idiot. When they, who have yet to figure out that dirty clothes go into something called a hamper not the floor, have the gall to talk to me in a superior tone I feel compelled to put them in their place (which should be at my feet worshiping me).

But, alas I needed my son’s help, so I put up with his condescension. As Clay is lecturing me on the finer points on remotely controlling someone’s laptop, (which you have to do to turn on their computer camera) while stuffing bullseye doughnuts in his mouth, I’m mentally making a To Do list and start to panic – sort of. From what he’s telling me I’m going to need a man on the inside. Basically, if I understand what’s he saying, someone is going to need to go into the County Cup, insert a flash drive into Martha’s laptop for approximately 15 seconds, remove the flash drive and then exit the premises, all without being seen. Unfortunately, I have no ninjas in my family or friend circle so I’m kind of doubting if I can pull this off.

My mom, who has been listening to all of this, pipes up and volunteers to do the deed. “That’s a big no can do mom. You don’t even know how to send an email that’s not in all caps. I’m guessing the flash drive would stroke you out. Plus, everyone in town knows you. How are you going to waltz into the Country Cup and pull this off without being seen?”

She pets her large and in charge blonde hair helmet, gives me a searing look that makes me feel like I’m back in high school and she’s just caught me breaking curfew, licks her lips, and says, “That’s why I’m just the person to do this. Everyone knows me. There’s not a room the good Lord has made that I don’t know how to work. I’ll just meander right into the back, ask if anybody has seen my purse because I think I left it there at lunch, and then distract that common as cornbread Martha Barnett and do that flash drive doohickey thing.”

“Got to hand it to you mom, that’s a good plan. The whole old lady lost my purse thing – genius. And I had totally forgotten that you can’t stand Martha.”

My mom quickly interrupts with, “She’s as bad as her mother, maybe worse. Going around putting on airs. You’d think she lived in Dallas or something.”

Before my mother could go off on one her tangents about the growing number of people being all gurgle and no guts (translation: boastful with nothing to back it up) I refocus the conversation to the flash drive. “Mom it doesn’t matter if you can work a room. There’s still the problem of you and the doohickey.”

At this point Clay gallantly jumps in to defend his grandmother, “Mom, if Grandma can plug in a toaster. She can insert a flash drive. I’ll even have her practice.”

My mom smiles and says, “So it sounds like we’ve got ourselves a little fun this evening.”

This is when my dad’s ears and mouth perk up. He had been silently reading the newspaper up to this point. “I’m a hearing this correctly? Are you planning on using your mother to illegally insert some sort of software that will allow you to remotely control  another person’s computer? I can tell you right now that’s not going to happen. Your mother is not going to go to jail.”

I say nothing and just smile. My dad doesn’t have a chance of stopping my mom from doing anything. She knows just how to manipulate my father to get her own way. It took under 90 seconds for her to convince him that she needed to do this for the betterment of society. Hell, she made it sound like she’d even get a Civitan of the Year award for it. I think what really won him over was her assertion that no one would want to send an old lady to jail and that she would use a dementia defense. My dad backed down after that and then announced that he was going with us.

“You can’t Dad. We’re taking mom’s Camry and I’ve already got me, Clay, Mom, Nancy and Lisa going. That’s five people. You won’t fit.”

“Well, then I just follow you in my truck and take the dogs with me. You never know when a dog is going to come in handy.”

I sigh and getting aggravated say, “I know why don’t we just put lawn chairs in the back of your pick up and have a hillbilly jamboree outside the Country Cup. It’s not like that won’t attract attention.”

My mom, a little slow to pick up on sarcasm, joins in with, “Let’s pack snacks and make a night out of it!”

“Mom, no on the snacks. Well, maybe some snacks. What were you thinking?”

“I’ve got some of my homemade jalapeno puffs and they go great with tea lemonade.”

This distracts me. Usually, I’m not easily distracted unless you introduce food into the conversation and then I’m a goner. I force myself back to the topic at hand and, because I’m a dutiful daughter and I know there was no other way he would let my mom go, tell my dad having him as back up would be just grand.

It’s now 6:50 p.m. I’m stuffed in the back of my mom’s car, between Nancy and Lisa. Clay is in the front seat and my mom is driving. God help us all. How this woman has never had an accident in her 50 plus years of being behind the wheel of a car is proof that there is a higher power and an angel is riding shotgun in her Camry. From my peripheral vision it looks like Nancy is giving herself last rites. Clay yells over my mother, who is simultaneously flooring her car and honking, that’s he going to be riding back with grandpa.

When we mercifully arrive at the Country Cup Nancy and Lisa start counting cars in the parking lot and announce that it looks like everyone that is affiliated with the draft is presented and accounted for. I tell my mom she’s good to go. None of us were worried that she wouldn’t know which laptop was Martha’s. Lisa said it has a paisley monogrammed case. My mom puts the flash drive in her skirt pocket, checks her coral lipstick in the rearview mirror, smiles, gracefully exits the car and begins to saunter up to the Country Cup. As she’s opening the door of the Cup my dad gets out of his pickup and follows her in. I just shake my head. Of course, I should have known he was going to do that. Always the gentleman, he would never let my mom head into alleged danger without his assistance.

Clay, still in the front seat, has his laptop out and has joined up with the Cup’s wifi. He’s doing some rather aggressive clicking on his keyboard. It takes less than five minutes before he announces, “Grandma’s done it. I’ve got control of that lady no one likes computer.”

Nancy and Lisa are all smiles. I’m concerned my mom and dad haven’t left the Cup. What the hell are they doing in there? Then I hear Clay laugh. “Look Mom,” he says gesturing at his computer screen. “Grandma and Grandpa really do know how to work a room. Grandma’s even giving baseball advice.”

Sure enough, there was my mother, holding court and wishing everyone in the room “the best draft ever.” I can see my dad patting guys on the back and very discreetly maneuvering my mom out of the party room.

A couple of minutes later they’re back in the parking lot and you would think my mom had just won the Powerball. I have to tell her to act natural. My dad deadpans, “This is natural for your mother.”

He’s kind of right. So instead I tell her to shut up and get in the car. My dad insists on getting in the car also. He’s downright adamant about it. This means Nancy is forced to sit on my lap so my dad can squeeze in the back. Could we be anymore conspicuous? Six people crammed in an aging Camry, with one woman sitting on another woman’s lap. We look like a package of Jet Puff marshmallows shoved into a Dixie Cup.

Lisa tells Clay to raise up his laptop, just a smidge, so we can see what’s going on from the backseat. The draft contingent is making a prayer circle. They’ve all joined hands and are bowing their heads. This makes me laugh. Really, praying that everyone has a good summer Little League draft? WTF?

Martha begins beseeching “our heavenly father to smile down and lift up those who will be making difficult decisions this evening, to use his wisdom from above to direct everyone in making purposeful and meaningful selections that will glorify his name and to bless everyone in the room for the work they do to spread Jesus’s love through boys and baseball .”

 Where’s a thunderbolt when you need one? I’m not the most religious person you’ll ever meet, but holy crap this sounds blasphemous. How do Little League draft picks glorify God? My mom, who considers herself highly religious, announces, “Well, with that prayer she had the devil snickering and getting her room ready in perdition. I think we all need to say a prayer to cancel out that prayer.”

“Later mom, let’s pray later,” I plead.

“No, we’re going to do one quick prayer.”

“You know, Mom, I don’t think that’s how prayer is supposed to work. This whole pray oneupmanship thing sounds wrong, like unholy and I don’t think you can cancel out someone else’s prayer with another prayer.”

My mother rolls her eyes while shaking her head and says, “I don’t know what pray oneupmanship even means but I have it on good authority  (she’s now looking towards the heavens like she’s Facebook friends with Jesus) that you most certainly can pray over a prayer. So, everyone join let’s join hands.”

Knowing it was easier and faster to just go along with my mom than try to insert logic into the conversation I follow her instructions and we all join hands, to the best of our ability, and my mom rattles off, “Dear Father, please forgive those fools who waste your time praying about baby boys baseball and distract you from the bigger picture of caring for the sick, those suffering and the needy. Amen.”

As soon as the last amen is murmured, Clay eagerly shares, “Mom, mom, it’s started they’re doing that draft thing.”

At first it all seems a little humdrum every coach takes turn picking their A and B player. It wasn’t until they got to the C players that things got interesting. Martha’s boys Belton and Beaumont had yet to be taken in the draft. I’m going to guess that she figured one of her twins would be an A, the other a B and they would be drafted onto the same team. I checked my hypothesis with Lisa and Nancy and they both agreed. Nancy added, “It doesn’t matter if they’re A, B or Z player, you just wait, Martha’s twins will both end up on the super team.”

Shortly after Nancy says this we see Martha’s huge head fill up the laptop screen. Lisa screams and that makes my mom scream. “Calm down everyone,” Clay scolds. We’re using her laptop camera and she’s now sitting at her laptop that’s why all we see is her face.”

“Do you know what she’s doing?” I ask.

“Give me a second and I’ll tell you. She seems to be in an Excel spreadsheet of some kind and is reassigning letters of the alphabet to different names.”

This information gets Nancy all excited. “I knew it! I knew it! I knew it! She’s manipulating the draft by messing with the seeding. That’s how she makes sure her kids team always get the best players.”

Boring is what I’m thinking while I’m starting to get concerned that I’m numb from the waist down due to having a grown woman sitting on my lap. Then a cute guy walks over to Martha and asks her a question about the seeding. My dad says, “Uh oh, that’s the new youth minister at St. Pauls and he played college ball. The real deal. I’m talking NCAA Division 1. I think he’s figured out she’s cheating.”

The nice, youngish man asks, “Hey, how is Ian Vansickle an E player and how did he get on your children’s team? That kid should have been at least a B. He’s got an amazing arm.”

Martha stands up and is trying to use her Commissioner mumbo jumbo on him, but he’s not backing down. Uh oh, now it’s on! She’s going full crazy on him. Like she’s in his face with her chest pumped out. A move, until now, I had only seen men in wife beater shirts do. I tell Clay to prepare the live stream.

“Like put it up?”

“No, just be ready.”

I then tell Nancy and Lisa to get out their phones, pull up their social media links and be in fingers itching to type mode.

And then it happened. I had my justification for sharing Martha Barnett’s special brand of icky with the world. I have standards when it comes to revenge. For me to engage in any sort of payback a person has to greatly exceed the limits of everyday douchery. Garden variety unkindness I tolerate. Sadly, it’s part of the human condition. But when someone crosses that line into vicious with a side of vile I feel it’s my responsibility to act for the greater good.

When Martha went off on youth pastor I still wasn’t prepared to engage. It took her launching into a tirade about how this is “the Major League Little League we’re talking about not the Challenger division” and then she began to berate the very awesome division of Little League for kids with physical and mental disabilities. When that happened I said three words, “Ready, set, go!”

Martha and her dumb assery was being live streamed from her own computer (I was being very careful that nothing could be traced back to Clay’s laptop) and Nancy and Lisa were sharing the links on the social media. With the status update “OMG have you seen Martha Barnett on Youtube – shocking and so sad.”

Oh and what a tantrum Martha was having! A real three alarm hissy fit about someone questioning her power as Commissioner. Karma was on our side because she was perched perfectly in front of her laptop for the optimum camera angle. I let her go on for about 4 minutes, then told my son to drop the live feed, turn those last couple of minutes into a continuous loop for Youtube and for my mom to get us the hell out of the Country Cup.

It took longer than I would have liked because I thought we were going to need the jaws of life to extract my dad from the Camry’s backseat. As soon as he was out my mom floored it and we hauled back to my parent’s house. There Nancy and Lisa camped out in the dining room working all their social media contacts. I told them they had one hour to get the word out and then I was having Clay shut down the Youtube link (which he had set up through Nancy’s computer). I also told him to make sure he had erased or whatever you do so no one will figure out that Martha’s laptop had been cloned. My mom walked around feeding everyone and saying things like, “If I do end up serving hard time promise me you’ll bring me my Clairol.” (She’s talking about her hair dye affectionately referred to around these parts as Lone Star Blonde.)

This story has a happy ending because my team of family and friends hit a home freaking run with the bases loaded. Martha is the ex commissioner, my mother is not in jail, and Nancy and Lisa’s boys are enjoying their Little League season. Although, Lisa insists “the teams still don’t seem all that fair.”  Sigh.

*Attcover_1.3-2ention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

 

Batter Up – Part One

team_snarky_closeup_grandeI’ve never been so glad that I have a ball free son. Wait, that sounds really wrong and anatomically incorrect. Let me start over, my son is ball-less. Okay, that sounds worse.

Here is what I’m trying to say – my son has never been into sports. Although, we tried. Lord did we try, but he has zero interest in catching a ball, chasing a ball, throwing a ball, kicking or hitting a ball. He wouldn’t even hunt for Easter Eggs.

I remember when he was three and wearing the cutest smocked, seersucker Easter suit with little bunnies on it. We were at our church’s annual Easter egg hunt and my son looked up at me with his big brown eyes. No, they’re better than brown. My husband has brown eyes but my son, my beautiful son, has eyes the color of brown sugar, butter and heavy cream mixed together in a saucepan on the stove right as those three simple ingredients hit the magical boiling point and transform into a rich, frothy caramel. So, make that he looked at me with his beautiful caramel eyes and asked, “Why do I have to run and look for eggs? Can’t we just go to the store and buy candy?”

I tried to explain that an Easter egg hunt was fun and that he would enjoy it. He didn’t believe me and no amount of persuasion was enough to make him leave my side and sprint around the church playground looking for eggs. It wasn’t until he was 15 and I started putting $20 bills in special “golden” eggs that he ever got into the whole “Peter Cottontail hopping down the bunny trail” of it all.

I will admit that having a son who doesn’t embrace sports puts you into a parenting wilderness. You feel left out, bereft at times and are without a common denominator that allows you to freely communicate with other parents. Which is why when other mothers are sashaying around town wearing a team jersey with their high school’s son name on it and displaying their teenager’s football number with a car decal on their Rover I had a similar T-shirt and bumper sticker made up with my son’s SAT score.

Okay, no I didn’t but it doesn’t mean I really, really don’t want to. I actually fantasize about doing this. The only thing that stops me is my son’s fierce disapproval and fear that he might someday put me in a sub standard assisted living facility.

This lack of mom/kid sporting experience is why last week I was sitting at a Shipley’s Doughnuts in an undisclosed town in Texas with my mouth very unattractively hanging open, making me glad that I had at least stepped up teeth whitening regime. (Thank you Optic toothpaste.) I was listening to a horror story about something called the Little League Draft. At first I was all, “Wait, they draft kids? WTH?” And then it got worse. My two friends from my childhood hometown (I was visiting my parents for spring break) began throwing out alphabet categories like AA and AAA, majors and minors. Were they talking about batteries, college degree plans? Had they gone all adult ADHD on me and were having issues with staying focused on one subject? Worse, had they been drinking? It was only 10 a.m.

I finally had to ask them to please shut up and to slowly explain to me what they were talking about. They both looked at me like I was mentally flawed, like how could a mom not know about the inner workings of Little League. I smiled and said one word – “Clay.” That’s my son’s name.

They smiled back, nodded their heads and then my friend Lisa said, “Oh yeah, that’s right. You’ve never been a boy sport’s mom.”

“Nope, never. Not one game, ever.”

I couldn’t tell if they felt sorry for me or were maybe a little bit jealous. I’m going with jealous. It makes me feel better. So, following my instructions they gave me a quick course in Little League for moms who have sons that don’t play sports.

If you have a child who plays Little League you may want to skip ahead if you don’t stay with me. Here’s the deal as I remember it. (I could have gotten some of the finer points wrong. I’m not saying this is the gospel people so please don’t email me a lengthy treatise on where I made a baseball error or left out a salient point in the history of youth sports – subsection Little League.) The important thing to remember for the benefit of this story is there is something called the draft and it’s a big freaking deal.

Try outs precede the draft and parents, most especially dads, get into it. I’m talking special outfits, clipboards and filming stuff with their iPhones and having assistants (who usually answer to the name mom) that take down notes. It’s huge. The tryouts are so the kids can be seeded for the draft. What all parents are hoping for is that if their son is ten or older he gets drafted to the Majors. That’s the big time. Second best would be the AAA, then AA and so on.

In this neck of the Texas suburbs the draft is held in private at the Country Cup & Kettle restaurant three days after try outs. Only coaches, Little League staff (which are all volunteers) and the commissioner are allowed into the draft room. What goes on is top-secret. I’m guessing it’s kind of like fight club as in the first rule of the Little League draft is no one talks about the draft.

This is the point in my lesson where when I hear the word “commissioner” of the Little League I burst out laughing. Really, a commissioner of Little League? You’ve got to kidding me? When did we, as parents, drink this special brand of crazy Kool Aid? It can’t just be the head volunteer or manager? It has to be a commissioner? I’m dying laughing. Seriously, squeezing my legs together and kegeling to prevent any unsightly leakage. I abruptly stop laughing and immediately forget about my pelvic floor muscles when my friend Nancy says, “And the commissioner is Martha Barnett.”

Ugh! Martha was my introduction to a female taking bitch and making it a long-term lifestyle choice. I have no memory of her ever being nice. No, correction I have no memory of Martha ever being genuinely nice. Even in grade school she was the queen of the backhanded compliment.  One of those girls who would say things like, “Oh, you look pretty today (pause, wait for it, it’s coming) you know, for you. Did your mom buy that outfit at Sears?”

Being a pre adolescent girl, you are, at first all smiles because of the “you look pretty” comment and then your feel good moment comes crashing down and gets stomped on like a bear dancing the polka at a post hibernation cotillion with the “for you” dig and to really make sure you got the insult Martha always had a follow-up insult in the form of a question i.e. – “Did you get your outfit at Sears?”

As I got older I avoided Martha to the best of my ability. If I did come in contact with her I was locked and loaded with an arsenal of quick retorts. For example, sophomore geometry, she told me I looked “decent” and followed up with “for a big girl” and then did her zinger. “Can you shop at regular people stores?”

I fired back, “If by regular people stores who mean where there are clothes for people with good taste, then yes I can shop there. So, I guess that means we will never be seen at the same stores.”

Martha choose not to leave her hometown. As far as I can tell she’s had the same friend set since pre school at the First Baptist Church. I know I digress, but I feel duty bound to share this with all the women out there who have a BIG issue with making new friends. So, here I go.

The problem with having ONLY long-standing friendships is the inbreeding. No one being allowed to move in or out of a group creates personality mutations where the worst character traits of each person slowly congeal and breed to create defective friendships. There I said it. You know I’m right.

So, back to hating on Martha. I had just seen her, when I was visiting, over Christmas, at the HEB grocery store and she had morphed into one of those Monogrammed Moms. Gag.

Head to toe monogrammed from her baseball cap (of course) to her hoodie and Uggs. (How do you monogram Uggs you ask? Well, she had what looked to be a label stitched above the Ugg label with her initials in a diamond pattern. I believe the font she used was bitch.)

She rustled her cart right up to me and had a big ol, fakey, smile and did the four-second Y’all which is when someone purrs out the greeting. I y’all-ed her right back as she gave me the once over and then said, “You look the same as you did in high school, like you haven’t lost any weight. Hey you’re not pregnant are you? Oh what I’m thinking it’s probably the menopause bulge.”

I succinctly replied by telling her she sounded exactly the same and accidentally rolled my cart over her Uggs. As I was leaving the grocery store parking lot I noticed even Martha’s Suburban had a large monogram decal on the back window. What’s with all these car monograms? It’s like saying, “Help, I’m too stupid to remember which car is mine so I had to put my name on it.”

As soon as Nancy and Lisa saw my eyes roll at the mention of Martha Barnett they start bitch slapping me with stories of, “When Martha made three moms in the bleachers cry” and “When Martha told so and so’s son he shouldn’t be allowed to play baseball because he ‘made all of baseball look bad.’” I tell ya they were both turning me right off my bullseye which is a mighty feat.

The bullseye, for you poor souls who don’t ever make it to Texas, is a hole-less doughnut impregnated with the richest vanilla buttercream/Crisco-esque frosting you’ll find anywhere in the South. It’s yumminess continues with a light coating of chocolate icing, sprinkles (whose change colors according to the holidays) and a jaunty flourish of the already mentioned vanilla buttercream that adorns the center of the doughnut like the world’s most darling “going to church” bonnet.

When they got to the part about Martha stalking the Little League fields with a monogrammed baseball radar gun and holding court I got queasy. When they told me about all the moms and dads in town kowtowing to Martha because of her “power” I went full on CVS – could vomit soon.

It took a fresh 32 ounce fountain Diet Coke in a styrofoam cup to clear my digestive track of the nausea.  As I’m slowly sipping my D.C. I discover that the draft is this evening. Which explains why Nancy and Lisa’s emotions are running so high.

Apparently, for the past three years Martha’s twin boys Belton and Beaumont always get on the best team. Well, if I believe everything I’ve being told, it’s more of a super team that trounces every other team in the league, which is not supposed to happen. The draft was set up to allow each team to draft an A player and then a B player and on down the alphabet so no one team could get all the good players. Somehow Nancy says Martha’s son team gets frontloaded with the most talent every year.

I sat there and listened to this thinking well, nobody ever said Martha Barnett was dumb. But I was also a little confused and asked, “Why haven’t the other parents called bull shit on this? Isn’t there something in the, I don’t know, the Little League Constitution about this?”

“Who knows and we don’t do anything because we’re scared,” confessed Lisa.

“Umm, scared of what? It’s boys baseball not Putin in Crimea.”

This gets Lisa worked up. “She has the power to put our boys on crappy teams. To ruin their Little League experience. Their whole summer even. Little League determines a lot of things like if they’ll make the high school baseball team or have a chance at a division one college ball”

This makes me laugh. “Lisa isn’t your kid 11? I don’t think Little League is going to make or break his athletic career.”

Both Lisa and Nancy give me looks that say, “Girl, you do not know what you’re talking about.” And they could be right, so I shut up for a good ten seconds and then ask, “Why don’t you crash the draft and find out what’s really going on?”

They both sigh and then Lisa says, “How? The draft is top-secret.”

“How top secret can it be. Didn’t you say it’s held at the party room at the Country Cup and Kettle?”

“Yeah, but they close the whole restaurant.”

This is when I get a little ashamed of both my friends. For the love of God they are both born and bred Texas girls. Where’s there ass kicking spirit? Their ingenuity? There, for the lack of a better word that would be much more ladylike, balls? Hell, the three of us spent one summer inseminating cattle. If you can survive that you can pretty much take on the world.

I shake my head in shame for them and ask, “Does the Country Cup have free wifi?”

Nancy says, “Yes, but why does that matter?”

“Do the coaches bring in laptops or iPads?”

Lisa volunteers, “Yeah, they would have to. I know a lot of coaches keep stats on the boys in excel spreadsheets. I’m guessing they would want to consult and update those as the draft goes on.”

“Well, then problem solved. Give me a minute.”

I take my phone out of my jacket pocket and text my son telling him to call me ASAP. I would never dream of calling him directly because being a child of the 21st century he doesn’t believe in answering his phone. Apparently, only losers or old people do that. Clay calls me back and I ask him if I’m right in assuming if an establishment has free wifi that I could maybe tap into it from the parking lot and somehow get eyes on what was going on inside?

He’s very quiet. I can only hear him breathing on the other end of the phone. Then he says, “For security reasons I will not have this conversation on an unsecure line. We’ll talk when you get back to grandma’s. Oh and bring me two bullseyes. No, make that three.”

I hang up my phone and ask, “What time is the draft?”

Nancy looks worried and says, “Seven.”

“Do you want a front row seat to the action?”

They both smile and in unison say, “Yes.” And then Nancy adds, “I think.”

“Okay then, we need a car no one will recognize and we can’t use mine it has out-of-state plates.”

Both Nancy and Lisa say their cars are out. They’re covered in Little League stickers.

I think for a moment and then say, “We’ll use my mom’s. It’s a white 1998 Camry. You don’t get more nondescript than that.”

I suck down more Diet Coke and say “Alrighty, I’ll pick you ladies up at 6:30 and then it’s off to the draft.”

“That’s it, just like that, we’re going to see what’s going on?” asks Nancy.

“Yeah, just like that. Do you not trust me?”

“Not really, but it’s worth taking a chance.”

I wink at her and she just shakes her head like I’m crazy. Yeah, I’m worse than crazy. I’m crazy with swagger. Martha Barnett watch out.

*Attcover_1.3-2ention Snarky Friends, I have a brand new book out. It’s the second in the Snarky in the Suburbs series – Snarky in the Suburbs Trouble In Texas. You can buy it for your Kindle or in paperback on Amazon.  It’s also available for the Nook or you can get it for your Kobo reader. Click on a link and give it a test read.  I hope you like it! 🙂

The Sports Parents Hall of Shame (The Elementary School Years)

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To celebrate this season of recreation here is the definite list of irritating sports parents. I, after much research, that has resulted in bleacher butt, have categorized the parents into eleven different groups of “species annoying” or to be strictly scientific Pater Athletica. (In alphabetical order)

The Clock Watcher– More accurate than Greenwich Mean Time the Clock Watcher is absorbed with timing how long his/her child gets to participate in the game. The Clock Watcher tallies the findings and immediately after the game shares with the coach the numerical breakdown. Say it’s not so, if the C.W.’s kid got less game time than some of the other kids. This fact will turn the Clock into a ticking Time Bomb ready to explode if their child doesn’t get above average play time in the next game. In some instances the Clock Watcher has even pulled his child mid-game in protest and gone home. I call that the Jerk Play. Never mind that the kid misses practices, begs to sit out or is nursing an injury (real or imagined). All that matters to the Clock Watcher is minutes played and his kid better have all the minutes.

The College Scholarshipper – Every parent reading this who thinks their 10-year-old will, for sure, get a full ride to college due to their amazing athletic ability please take a deep breath and brace yourself for a hard truth. Less than 6% of all high school athletes get college scholarship to play NCAA sports and less than 1% of all high school athletes go on to play professional sports. Now, I know what you’re thinking, “My kid will be that 6%.” Awesome, I applaud dreaming big and I’ll be cheering your child on. But, I’m going to ask for just one little favor – please, please quit talking about it. No more comparisons of your child’s elementary school game stats in relationship to what college scouts are looking for. No more sharing of your master game plan to get your child on full athletic scholarship to your alma mater, and pretty please no more yelling from the stands at your kid – “That’s what I want to see! That’s what the Buckeyes will be looking for!”

The “I Could Have Gone Pro” Dad– Is there anything more awkward than witnessing a dad trying to show off his sports skills at a game for kids? No. This dad can be seen arriving early for practice and games in his full jock attire. Sometimes even wearing his old high school football jersey which due to time marching on is more of a stretchy crop top. He’ll go on the field to throw balls for the kids and by throw I mean show off how big, strong and powerful he is. He heaves the balls so hard the kids can’t catch them. I wonder if he thinks he’s impressing the moms in the stands. My short answer no. No mom likes seeing an adult pummel her 7-year-old with a football thrown hard in his stomach. Meanwhile, he keeps up a play-by-play of his sports experience including his impressive Pop Warner and junior high career plus his high school triumphs. Next he’s off to run that lap around the field beating the kids and then crowing about it. He even gets down and does the warm ups with the team except it’s all about, “Look at me, look how fast I can do a push up. Now watch this I’m doing a push up with one hand.” Someone hit that dad in the head with steel cleat. Please. At the beginning of the season the kids think the dad is cool. After about 3 practices the kids begin to think the dad is a little scary. “Why does he stay for practice?” they ask. “He’s not even the coach?” As a parent I think he should hang up his jock strap and sit down, preferably away from me.

The I’m Raising My Child to Be a Serial Killer – Research has shown that nothing triggers the complex gene mutation that creates serial killers like a child being pressured to play sports against their will. (Okay, so I’m making that one up.) It’s one thing to introduce your child to a wide variety of athletic endeavors and encourage physical activity. It’s another to force them to continuing playing a sport after they reach a certain age. Once a kid has demonstrated no interest whatsoever in said sport, exhibits complete misery at being made to partake in the sport and shows no discernible skill sets for the game after playing for six years then maybe it’s time to call it quits on sport A and move on to sport B or C or D. So, they don’t like team sports. It doesn’t mean they don’t like exercise.  So you’ll never get to see your son or daughter pitch in the Little League All Stars Game. Get over it and embrace your non-athlete because I have four words for you: Steve Jobs, Bill Gates. The geeks shall inherit the earth.

The Pep Squad Mom – Got spirit? Let’s hear it!  I’m all for enthusiasm at my children’s sporting events, but the Pep Squad Mom needs to switch her Starbucks to decaf and retire her high school cheerleader pom poms. Yes, we’re all proud of our kids as they try to figure out where the ball went and what to do with it, but do we really need to break into a rehearsed cheer, complete with arm movements and clapping or do the wave? There’s what, like 15 parents total watching and half of the parents spend more time staring at their phone than the field. As for the whole color coordinated family spirit wear you suggested – sure, our team is the Purple Thunder, but I’m not interested in buying spirit wear for their 8 game season. One, I’m an adult, two our kids are 6 and their games last all of 30 minutes. Isn’t that going just a wee bit overboard to have every family “support the team in unified spirit wear”? Three, I don’t look good in purple. I appreciate your energy and dedication to children’s athletics and the fact that at age 35 you can still do a pretty impressive herkie, but I could really the see the game better and my child attempting to play if you would only sit down.

The Revenge of the Rec Team Parent – Hell hath no fury like the parent stuck with a kid on the rec team when he really thinks his child should have made into the “elite” or “select” level. This parent will try to restructure the season so it’s all about his/her child getting the experience he or she needs for the next round of tryouts. Forget about it being a team sport it’s a me sport. This parent comes to every practice and game intent on his/her child being given all the opportunities to shine. May I suggest to this parent if you want your child in the spotlight 24/7 try solo sports like tennis (singles) or figure skating (and I’m not talking pairs).

The Screamer – This parent has the lung capacity that would put a blue whale to shame. They can holler and shriek at their child the entire game or competition. Usually they can be found near the field, court, pool etc multitasking by pacing and screaming. Unfortunately, the screaming is not of the encouraging variety. It’s more of a drill sergeant on speed: “C’mon you can go faster than that!  Go get that ball!  You would have had if you had been paying attention! We practiced that, remember, r-e-m-e-m-b-e-r!” I can only imagine how your child feels being bellowed at the entire game, but, I can tell how I feel. Sad for you, your family and my ears.  And may I ask where is your spouse because he or she should be telling you to pipe down. Better yet, don’t attend the games until you can exhibit some sort of impulse and vocal control or adjust your meds.

The Suck It Up/Shake It Off Parent – Sometimes it’s just a twisted ankle and sometimes it really is a broken ankle. The Suck It Up/Shake It Off parent treats every injury the same – it’s no big deal. Player down on the field or court it doesn’t matter to this parent. They always shout the same thing, “shake it off.” God forbid that play stop and a parent leaves the stand to see what is wrong with their child. The Suck it Up/Shake it Off will continue his/her monologue about how whatever happened is no big deal and that kids today are coddled babies (or pussies). Back in their day the injury would have been fixed with a jog around the track and an ace bandage. Really?  Because I would like to test your vintage theory by hitting you in the ankle with a baseball bat and see you walk that off.

Team Divorce: At most games you would never know which parents are divorced. On occasion the aftershocks of a very rancorous split will be played out to such a degree that the action is not on the field, but in the stands. Dad or mom bringing a date to the game can be the fire starter or a child custody issue can get things heated. At a Little League baseball game last year I witnessed two parents fighting over who had the right to take their child home after the game. The mom holding a baby in her arms, shoved the dad.  The dad pushed her back, another dad from the stands ( a federal judge) jumped up to separate them and then both parents shoved him. Long story short the police were called, the game was stopped, their kids were crying and the Federal Judge pressed charges. Whoever said, “baseball was made for kids, and only grown ups screw it up” was right.

The Unicorns & Rainbows – No one likes to lose. Some hate losing more than others. It’s natural for kids, especially when as they get older to be disappointed when their team doesn’t play well and really who wants a kid whose team just got annihilated 87 to 2 to be joyous. Be very careful that a Unicorns & Rainbows parent doesn’t see your child’s gloomy, ticked off demeanor.  They will descend upon him or her like a plague of happy locust. “Oh come on, it’s a beautiful day.  You got to see your friends, smell the fresh-cut grass and feel the sunshine on your face.” Pardon me, but you are not helping. Also, the bit you dropped about being happy that your alive because 150,000 people die everyday was a little over the top and freaky scary to a 10-year-old. The U&R parents can’t stand to see a child weather the agony of defeat. Like there’s a law that says a kid must be cheerful at all times. As they stalk you as you walk to your car, thank them for their concern, while making sure your keys are out so you can quickly break into a run and finally escape their happy homilies. You know after a couple of minutes in the car and a trip to get an Icee all will be well with your mopey kid. Besides, who wouldn’t be a little sad about a game gone bad.

The Whining Second Guesser – Oh my, if you were a young child your behavior would result in a very long time out and maybe a nap. But alas, you’re an adult so, that means no one can punish you for your excessive whining. Our only retaliation is to avoid you like the ebola virus even if it means hiding out with the opposing teams parents. Nothing ever goes right for you. The calls made during the game were horrible. The field was too wet. The court was too slippery. The other team’s kids looked too big to be 11. The coach got it all wrong.  If only we had played on another field. If only the coach hadn’t substituted in that child. Yikes, put a sock in it.  A big knee-high wool soccer sock.

Now, that I categorized “species annoying” go forth my friend and enjoy your child’s athletic prowess. Holding firm in the knowledge that you, for not being on the list, are already a winner.

For all thinks wonderfully Snarky go to www.snarkygear.com where you can find T-shirts, ecards for Facebook and my brand new book – Snarky in the Suburbs Back to School.  Here’s a little ditty about it:

The Spring Creek Elementary School PTA board (a coven of Mean Moms dressed in Uggs, yoga pants, and dermal filler) is up to no good.  Wynn Butler (middle-aged, uncool, and not bringing sexy back) is determined to find out what’s going on. With help from her two kids, a Roomba vacuum turned mobile surveillance drone, and a few good friends, Wynn launches a covert investigation that leads to the “mother of all revenge capers” at the school’s annual Fall Festival.

 If you’ve ever fantasized about smoke bombing the idiot parent who has yet to master the fine art of the school drop-off lane, or standing up and shouting, “Liar, liar, Botox on fire” during a PTA meeting, then this delicious tale of payback is for you.

To stay up-to-date on new posts and take part in my not so deep thoughts click on this Facebook link – http://is.gd/iEgnJ (That’s the abbreviated link to my FB page) or I twitter @snarkynsuburbs.