Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Where are your shoes?

Today is Wednesday which, for me, means that I'm periodically checking the computer and waiting for one of my kid's tennis tournament draws to be posted. I don't remember the last time I've experienced a Wednesday without having to go through this suspense, but I'm guessing it was maybe two weeks ago, when the tournament director was really on top of things and posted the draws on Tuesday afternoon instead of making us all wait until Wednesday.

These draws tell me several things:
  1. Who my kid will be playing;
  2. The time that I'll have to get up, aka ass-crack of dawn;
  3. Whose parents I will have to tolerate for three days;
  4. If I will have to pack our cooler with breakfast, lunch, dinner or my all time favorite, a combination of all three; and
  5. The amount of time I'll have between matches to drive to ______ to purchase ______ for the sum of $____. This is infinitely irritating because ______ should have been packed in the tennis bag but was forgotten at home, even though I reminded someone _____ times to CHECK YOUR BAG AND MAKE SURE YOU HAVE EVERYTHING YOU NEED!
Like shoes, for example. Shoes are a good thing to have when you're playing tennis. So I've heard.

At the end of July, we experienced a week of tennis that will be forever known as the Barely Controlled Week of Chaos in Which My Family Was Spread Across the Midwest. This week involved Zach flying to Kalamazoo, MI for one national tournament, my husband and I driving Charlie and one of his friends to Omaha for a different national tournament, and Zoe and the dog staying home with my holy-shit-what-did-we-get-ourselves-into-this-time parents. As you can imagine, planning and packing and preparing for a week like this required a little bit of forethought (AND THREW ME INTO CONTROL FREAK BLISS!) and I'm happy to say that nothing was forgotten (HOLY SHIT I TOTALLY KICKED ASS!) Or, clarification, nothing that I was responsible for was forgotten. (BECAUSE, LIKE I SAID, I KICKED ASS!)

The night before we were leaving, while I was triple checking my lists and piling bags up by the door, I gave both boys their lists and told them several times to check their tennis bags, make sure everything is in there and oh yeah, make sure everything is in there. Charlie was all yeah yeah, got it, it's all there, oh wait I need to grab my shoes, hey cool this is what it feels like to have ADHD because I CAN'T FOCUS ON ANYTHING BECAUSE I'M SO FREAKING EXCITED and oh yeah, I was about to grab my sho -------

The drive to Omaha; uneventful. Zach's flight to Kalamazoo; uneventful. The parents staying with the dog and girl; bark barkity bark growl hey old man don't fucking move from that chair bark bark.

After we arrived in Omaha (which is chock full of stoplights that are mostly red) and checked into our swanky hotel, we headed to the courts for tourney registration (here's your t-shirt and bag of shit), parent meeting (don't be a bunch of assholes and embarrass your kids) and a brief practice session. Oh, and did I mention that Omaha in July, in addition to smelling a little like manure, is also hot? Like, hot. And a little humid. But mostly just really, really fucking hot. So after schlepping stuff from the car and listening to some nutrition lady drone on and on about the importance of hydration, I had a pretty good filmy glaze accumulating on every surface of my body and that glaze did not put me in the mood to hear these words: "What did you do with my shoes?"

Let me repeat, in case you missed it the first time because I sure as hell did when I first heard it: What. Did you do. With. My. Shoes.

First of all, what? The fuck? Why would I do anything with your shoes, CHILD!? And did I not nag you 38 times less than 24 hours ago to get your shit together, including your shoes?

Sure enough, there were no shoes. After pulling everything out of that tennis bag that is just slightly smaller than the trunk of most sedans, no court shoes were discovered. What I did discover, however, is that my forehead can sweat A LOT and I can gnash my teeth and mutter swear words so that they're only audible to a certain individual and when that individual hears that gnashing and swearing, their forehead also starts to sweat.

I wiped the sweat off my hands so that I could text my parents to see if there were, in fact, a pair of blue Adidas court shoes sitting in the back closet, just waiting to be shoved into a tennis bag. And while I knew that the answer was going to be yes, I didn't need to receive the text that I did: "We'll have to check later. We're at your brother's house right now, eating burgers and swimming." Okay, then, thanks a lot, hope you get a sunburn.

At that moment, I was kind of at a loss as to what I should do. Obviously I needed to get the kid some shoes because there was no way in hell I was going to default him from five days of matches, but I also needed to make him suffer in some way. Putting thumbtacks into the soles of the new shoes seemed a bit extreme, as did breaking off his thumbs. And that's when, as my kid stood at the fence and watched all of his friends on the courts, I started hearing the most wonderful sounds: Why aren't you hitting, Charlie? (I forgot my shoes). What? You forgot your shoes? At home? (Yes. At home.) How could you forget your shoes? (I dunno.) Ha ha! Did you really forget to bring your shoes? (Yes, I did.) Man, your mom must be mad! (Yes, she is.) Why isn't Charlie hitting? Dude, he forgot his shoes!

Punishment and suffering... check.

And now is when I shamelessly promote my iPhone. Thank you, iPhone, for promptly giving me the name, address and phone number of the nearest pro shop that sold court shoes in my kid's size. Thank you for providing a map so that I could drive directly to said pro shop which, conveniently, was just a few miles away. Thank you, also, for multitasking and allowing me to receive a text from my husband while I was searching for the nearest bar, a text that said "Just tell Charlie it's no big deal. I'll just drive the five hours back to Maple Grove and get his shoes for him." I love being married to a smart ass. A smart ass who also has an iPhone.

Once the shoes were bought (bonus: there was a coupon for this pro shop in the bag of shit that we received at registration) and on my kid's feet, he played his ass off, won a bunch of matches, had way too much fun and was forced to listen to me tell this story to anyone who said "Hey, Charlie got new shoes!"

When Zach heard about what had happened in Omaha, his reaction was exactly as I expected: Holy crap, mom must've been ticked. So you'd think that after watching his brother writhe with discomfort every time we left for a lesson or match and I'd say "Hey, does everyone have their shoes" with just a little less than a crap ton of sarcasm, he'd be super responsible about his own bag and always make sure he had his shit together. I mean, you'd think that, but you'd be wrong.

Over Labor Day weekend, both of the boys played in a tournament at the University of MN. Most of the matches started on Saturday, but Zach ended up with a Friday night match. As usual, I made sure to have the cooler packed (including a flask because it was, after all, a Friday night) and Zach was to have made sure that his bag was packed.

Well before it was time to leave, I found the giant child, sitting on a bench near our back door. Street shoes on, bag on his back, phone in his hand, brain half-way out of his head. I said "Hey, you know we aren't leaving for, like, at least 20 minutes" and he said "Ya, well, ya. K. I'll jus' wait." Since he ready with so much time to spare, I started patting myself on the back while thinking holy shit, man. This is kick ass! He is fired up to win this match! Chalk one up for me cuz all that nagging is paying off!

We drove half-an-hour, dealt with some traffic, found a parking spot amidst all the U-Hauls and Suburbans that were covering the U of M campus (it was move-in weekend) and walked to the tennis center. Just as we got to the door, Zach put his bag down, unzipped it and started channeling his brother: Where are my shoes?

Oh, ha ha hooo ha! That's a good one! Two times in one summer?! No way! Stop it! Seriously, STOP FUCKING WITH ME! Because you know if you were to have really forgot your shoes I would potentially HAVE TO KILL YOU!
  1. Yes, he really did forget his shoes.
  2. No, I didn't really kill him.
  3. I need a bigger flask.
I quickly reviewed my options:
  1. Default him from a match that he was sure to win, and be out the $55 tourney registration fee;
  2. Drive home, in traffic, to get the shoes, which would probably result in him defaulting because he'd end up being late for his match;
  3. Drive to a pro shop that was approximately 10 miles away, plunk down $110 for another pair of shoes, which would look really great sitting next to the other new pair of shoes that were already in the closet at home; or
  4. Kill him, then go to the bar.
I know some of you are thinking I should have went with Option #1 (or even #4), but that approach wasn't going to happen. He knew I was mad (as indicated by the flailing arms, spinning head and the chants of "I'M SOOO MAD!"), he felt like a moron, and his dad had pulled out the most scathing of disciplinary words: he said his first and last name.

After spending a few extra seconds glaring at my kid who was wishing he had put his invisibility cloak in his bag, I decided to go with Option #3, stormed out the door and started quickly walking down the sidewalk to the car that was parked in the ramp in the spot that I had pre-paid $10 for. And that's when I remembered that maybe I wouldn't have to drive anywhere because they sold shoes at the U of M's tennis desk! I could just give them $110 in addition to the $55 registration fee that they already had! So, ya know, whoopee for me!

(For future reference: If you ever have the opportunity to throw a shoebox at your kid while he's bent over and tying the shoes that were just in said box, do it. It's really, very cathartic.)

Since then, several more tournaments have been played and several more lessons have been attended and I'm happy to report that so far, no more shoes have been forgotten. Now, if only I could say the same thing about the hats and water bottles.

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