Tuesday, April 22, 2008

A Letter to My Children

Dear Girls,

Your father and I would like to think that we have bestowed certain genetic gifts upon you. You have, for example, both been born with copious thick brown hair, lovely deep brown eyes, nice eyelashes that will come in handy for batting at the boys of your choice, quite decent intellect, and impressive height. Granted, this last trait is going to seem like more of a curse than a blessing for awhile. I'm specifically thinking of junior high here. I seem to recall writing "I feel like such a freak." in my diary after returning home from yet another school dance where the tallest boy came up to my armpit. Later, the tallness will rock. I promise.

Additionally, we have tried to instill in you certain cultural advantages: good grammar and pronunciation, an appreciation of nature, music, and the arts. By the age of four, you were both able to sing along with every Broadway cast recording I own. This became somewhat disturbing when Hannah began crooning "Two Ladies", the song from "Cabaret "about a menage a trois, while playing with her dolls. But still. STILL. I ask you, how many four-year-olds have even heard of "Cabaret"?

There is one area where we've failed you miserably. When in comes to athleticism, your father and I both have a great big sucking void of inability, which is only exceeded by our lack of interest. And, unfortunately, we seem to have passed that void on to you. Especially the sucking part.

This became clear when I watched you both, ahem, "roller blading" yesterday. I don't know if you're aware of this, but most people? When they roller blade? They MOVE FORWARD. While upright. And there's generally a lot less clinging, shrieking, and plunging to the ground. I expected a lot of spills and unsteadiness when you first got the blades. Two years ago. Your average person would have caught on by now. I say this with love and empathy.

My first week of ninth grade, I noticed a strange phenomenon. A lot of the high school teachers seemed to be pointing at me and talking about me as I passed through the halls. I was mystified in a paranoid sort of way, until the second week when I was approached by my gym teacher, Mrs. Reyes and two of the male gym teachers, all nattily clad in polyester shorts with whistles dangling from their necks. They all seemed pretty excited as they asked me to walk over to the gym with them. The high school hadn't had a winning girl's basketball team in years! And I was so tall! Did I play? No, I told them gently.
Well, just for kicks then, could they see my lay-up? I took the basketball from one of the male coaches. I asked them what a "lay-up" was. Their smiles faltered, but Mrs. Reyes gamely demonstrated for me. Looked easy enough. I bounced the ball and charged blindly toward the basket, tossing the ball vaguely up as I got near. When I turned back, all three teachers wore carefully blank expressions. Could I try one more time? Sure. I gave it another shot, forgetting to dribble this time. Their faces were grim as they thanked me for my time and walked me back out of the gym. No one ever mentioned basketball to me again. So, you see, I know of what I speak.
Your father has many childhood stories of being coaxed into playing catch with Grandpa that he can share with you. Most of them involve him being wet-his-pants terrified whenever Grandpa winged the baseball at him. Based on the cringing and ducking I saw whenever a softball was thrown your way last spring, Bear, I'm guessing you will relate here. It's OK. You come by it honestly.
It's 100% not your fault that this is what happens when you "roller blade."

Here, Bug has just yelled over to me, "Look, Mom! I'm totally doing it!" I didn't bother pointing out to her that she was on the grass...

...because one second later, she fell. Which is really pretty sad, when you think about it.

Bear positioned herself on the slight (.00001%) downhill grade of the driveway and coasted toward the basketball hoop, reaching out to clutch madly at it as she approached. Then she would look at me for praise.

There was a whole lot of this:

And a whole lot of this:

Don't worry, girls. We still love you even if you aren't star athletes. In fact, we probably love you more.



No comments: