Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Dear Soccermom: Advice Columnist

This week I have decided to take some questions from followers and become an advice columnist, a la Amy Sedaris in the Believer magazine. I've never tried this before, so feel free to let me know how you think I’m doing....

Dear Soccermom,
Running makes me queasy. Any advice?
- Couchpotatoe

Dear Dan Quayle,
You neglect to mention what you are running away from. Muggers? 1980’s fashion icons? Conservative politicians? In these situations I think the queasiness is not to be avoided but could actually come in handy. When you run, just turn your head slightly to the side and speed up a bit, so that you actually puke in their path. If you could puke up whole, unmasticated banana peels, that would be helpful too, because they might slip on one and fall. Can you do that? That would be so cool.

If you are running towards something, like a soccer ball, that is different. Forget the queasiness and suck it up, cupcake.

Hope this helps!
- Cathy

Dear Soccermom,
My children are making me insane. No matter what I say, no matter what I do, they scoff, laugh outright, or pretend to spray water out of their mouths. Is there something I missed in parenting 101?
- At wits end

Dear Witless,
Yes. And lucky for you, I teach parenting 101, so just this once I’ll give you some freebies. First of all, forget the pretending-- spit-spray actual water back at them. (Or withhold water or other liquids from them altogether, until they become parched and feeble. ) Alternatively, you could pin them down on their backs and as you hover above them, let a long trail of your spit dangle towards their faces. Suck the spit up at the last minute. (Or don’t-- your choice.)

Another option would be to put them in some kind of after school activity they hate, just to wring all the joy out of their lives, so they are broken and sad. Not soccer—all kids love soccer—but something boring and tedious like ballet. They won’t have any spirit left to scoff at you.
- Cathy

Dear Soccermom,
My husband is a real sports fan, and I try to watch it with him sometimes, despite knowing next to nothing about sports. Recently we watched a soccer match. My husband began to yell, “Handball! Handball!” I didn’t know what to make of this, so I reached into his crotch. He was startled at first, then annoyed, then, I think, pleased. Apparently, I misunderstood. Are there any other soccer terms I should be wary of?
- Earnest but confused

Dear Earnest,
Don’t worry, you didn’t misunderstand at all. That’s exactly what‘s supposed to happen when someone yells “handball”, and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. It also explains, to some extent, the high nature of David Beckham’s voice, and the need for handballs to sometimes be followed by “penile T kicks”. (Never learned what the “T” stood for, sorry.) Since you asked, you might want to watch out for the soccer expression “Man on”, which can signal either that another player is chasing you while you have the ball, or hot gay action, or both.
- Cathy

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

My Triumphant Return

I’ve been waiting to write this blog for a long time. Today was my glorious, long-awaited return to the soccer field. It was...okayish.

April 20, six months after my ACL surgery, seemed like the right time to play again, partially because this is what all the ACL literature says is the right amount of time to wait, and partially because my physiotherapist told me to stop coming in. (Kicked me out, really.) The fact that April 20 is the international day to celebrate cannabis culture (“420, dude!” ) doesn’t have anything to do with it, although, when I think about it, smoking a spliff before playing might have helped me relax.

There’s not much to say. Here are the facts:

- The weather was perfect.

- I got there early and did the warm-up that FIFA recommends to prevent knee injuries. Being early also allowed me plenty of important time for worrying.

- It was truly great to see my old friends out on the field again. And it turns out my ability to take the piss out of people was not at all damaged when I hurt my knee. (Sample comment by me, when someone flubbed a pass: “What was that?!”)

- I played goal, mostly, which involved a lot more standing than playing. My choice.

- I spent a lot of time running to get the ball when it rolled off the field after someone missed a shot. I did this on purpose, since it meant I was actually getting exercise, but the likelihood it would cause me to twist and hurt my knee was dramatically less than it would have been in a game. Smart, right?

- I was responsible for at least three goals-- for the other team, mind you, not mine-- don’t be ridiculous. I let them in since I was much too afraid to dig in and defend properly.

- I left early, and when I left, a lot of my friends clapped at me, I guess congratulating me on my triumphant return, but I couldn’t help but wonder if they were actually clapping since I was leaving, and they would finally not have to walk on eggshells and could take some normal damn shots already.

In the past, I’ve always been the one who stays and plays til the bitter end. Leaving early made me feel very mature. Look at me, not pushing myself too hard! Look at me, doing the responsible thing!

But later I realized, of course, that I’m not mature. I’m a chickenshit.

But I'm a soccer-playing chickenshit. Ha!

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My List: A Cure for Idle Doctor Chatter

There was a front page article in the Vancouver Sun last Friday about how surgeons have been told not to chatter during surgery. A complaint was launched by a patient who felt that when his surgeon talked with the scrub nurses about hockey during his operation, there was a chance that the doctor could have become distracted, lost focus, and made a mistake. Now all BC Surgeons have been warned to cut it out. (Pun intended). In what was dubbed a “useful, important reminder with a proactive message”, they have been warned by the College of Physicians and Surgeons to stay away not only from the topic of hockey, but also to avoid other subjects that could potentially upset patients.

I don’t get it. Let it go, dude. Surgery in a hospital is one of the few times in our lives where we truly must relinquish control and trust our surgeon. When the operation day comes, we are stripped down to nothing but a thin, backless gown and groovy hairnet, anaesthetized, and put in a room full of relative strangers who can do with us as they please. Why do we do this? Because these surgeon people are quite smart and skilled. They have a lot of schooling and have been carefully vetted by their peers before they start slicing and dicing. And there’s a ton of people in the operating room, so aren’t they going to keep each other on track? In my experience surgeons generally have a good sense of responsibility anyway, and probably won’t engage in a quick iphone game of angry birds, mid-operation, just for kicks.

That said, you never know, so I’ve decided on a list of conversational demands should I ever be in the position to have surgery again. (Cross your fingers for me that that will NEVER have to happen.) Of course it’s highly unlikely that I would even be aware of what was being discussed during surgery, but just in case, I’ve got my list made as a “useful important reminder” for my surgeon. Here it is:

Things That Can Be Discussed:

- the symmetricalness of the earring holes in my earlobes (or any other positive physical traits they may discern)
- Soccer (I like soccer. Had you noticed?)
- How cute/smart/polite my kids are
- how tragic it is that someone with as bright and sweet a disposition as mine has to be cut into this way. Sympathy tears by the surgeon are also permitted, providing that they don’t seep into the incision area and cause infection.
- How smooth my legs are
- The TV Show Modern Family. That thing is hilarious!
- The operation, I guess

Things That Cannot Be Discussed:

- Jokes about throwing in some much-needed liposuction during the surgery as some kind of 2-in-1 combo deal.
- Charlie Sheen. (He is really just so over.)
- Anything about golf (yawn.)
- Clowns (self explanatory.)
- Whether or not my boobs are real or fake. (Hold on--wait--forget it. I’m moving this to the “Can Be Discussed” category instead, since if people are questioning it, it usually means your boobs are too good to be true, right?)
- Hockey (kidding. But can I stipulate that it be playoff hockey? So much more exciting. Go Canucks!)
- How stubbly my legs are (it all depends on what time I woke up that morning, you see.)

Also, my sister once told me that chewing gum during tests helps you to concentrate better, so I would also like to stipulate that my surgeon chew gum, just to make sure I’m getting him or her in top form. (But not that crappy cinnamon flavoured gum. That stuff is just gross. Peppermint only.)

See? Useful. Proactive. You should make a list too. (And, you can use it for the plumber as well, when they come over to fix the pipes under your kitchen sink- just to make sure they don’t get distracted.)

Oh, and I forgot one thing. I want my surgery for free. Oh I get that already? Right. Sweet.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Win, Lose or Draw

Hannah and I went to the Whitecaps game on Wednesday night. My friend Scott gave me two tickets, and I thought it would be a good way to bond with my ten year old daughter. In the car on the way, I tell her that too. “I am excited about having some Hannah-Mommy time,” I say.

“Mom, can you just say ‘mother-daughter’ time, instead? It sounds better.”

“Yes, of course, sweets-- my bad,” I say.

“No one says ‘my bad’ anymore, Mom.”

Oh god. “Okay. Sorry. Do people still say that?”


This is not a very auspicious beginning.

After a while, I ask, “Are you excited about seeing the game, Han?”

“I think I’ll reserve judgement for now,” she says. She actually says this.

“Are you at least excited that we’re going to A&W?” I ask. We’re going there for dinner on the way. We don’t often go to those kinds of places.

“Yeah!” she says enthusiastically. Well, at least that’s something.

At A&W, we both get teen burgers, her because even though she’s only 10, she’s acting like a teenager, and me because I figure eating one will give me the body of a teenager. (That’s how this A&W thing works, right? It doesn’t? Aww, screw you, confusing Burger Family!)

We walk into the stadium just as the crowd inside starts singing O Canada, and we and all the other people around us, all of us late, sing loudly along. We get to our seats just one and a half minutes into the game. The sun is setting and it is still warm and beautiful. Even in the first minute, I can tell the new Whitecaps are an exciting team. This is going to be good. I take this picture of us:

Less than three minutes later, Hannah tells me she feels sick.

“What?” I say, craning my neck around, only half paying attention to her and trying to watch the game.

“I feel barfy.”

Now she has my attention. “Are you sure, Han?” I don’t want to ask everyone who just stood up to let us in to stand up again.

Her face looks grey and she is kind of shivering.

I ask everyone to stand up again so we can get out and go to the washrooms. Well, porta pottys. We get there and Hannah goes in, but then comes out again, like 20 seconds later. I should point out that she can be kind of an anxious kid and that she hates public washrooms.

“And?” I say.


“Are you okay?” She would not like it if I asked her personal questions about what happened in there, so I look at her. I can’t read her face. She just looks back at me. I’m desperate to go back in and watch the soccer game. “Can we go back in?” I ask.


We go back to our seats. Everyone nicely stands up again. One, maybe two minutes pass. The Whitecaps are glorious. There is still no score, but they have all the possession.

“Mom, I feel sick again.”

Now, I might not have reacted in the best possible way to this news. “Are you insane?” is what I believe I said. “You are not sick. And besides I’m not asking those people to move again.” I rummage around in my purse and find a plastic bag and give it to her. “Here, puke in this.” And then I turn back and watched the game.

Super soccer mom, right? See, this is why at the top of my blog is says “Stories from a Different Kind of Soccer Mom.” It’s because I suck. A proper soccer mom would probably not have let her sick kid almost hyperventilate in a plastic bag so she could watch a match. (It was truly an awesome match, by the way. They finished the first half nil nil.) A truly proper soccer mom would definitely not take a picture of her sick kid holding a puke bag up to her mouth and post it on her blog, for all to see. Like this:

What can I say?

Half time comes and we go out and try the bathrooms again, and it's pretty crowded out there now. Hannah says she might be feeling slightly better. “Can we go back in and watch the second half?” I suggest hopefully. It’s not really a question, but I want her to think I am giving her a choice.


As we head back in, I find $20 on the ground. I ask, but no one around me will claim it.

“Can I have the money, Mom?”

“Nice try.”

The second half is crazy. A Whitecap gets sent off with a red card. Then, we get a penalty shot—and score, leading one- nil. The player who scores is so excited, in a frenzy he whips off his jersey and throws it into the enthusiastic crowd, and then he promptly gets a red card too. So we are up by one goal, but down two players. The game will need to change after this.

Hannah, I notice, is changing too-- her puke bag is balled up in her fist at her side, and not draped over her nose and mouth as she previously had it. She is also cheering now instead of rocking back and forth and moaning. She probably can’t help it—someone in the audience has brought a drum and the crowd is so into it, stomping and clapping. The Whitecaps defenders and goalie are stupendous, foiling chance after chance. It’s like a thirty minute, two man advantage power play in hockey, and the Whitecaps are rocking it. No one is getting past them. At one point, I look over at Hannah, and she is actually paying attention to the game and smiling.

The ninety minutes are up. They add four minutes of injury time.

And then the other team scores.

As we make our way out, the crowd is still crazy excited, even though it ended in a tie. I overhear a young guy say “Whoa, that was more exciting than watching the Canucks!” and I can’t help smiling, because I agree. Hannah and I drive all the way home, car dancing and singing at the top of our lungs to the White Stripes songs she picks out on my iphone.

And nobody puked. I'm going to count this as a win.