You know how, when you were little, grownups acted like grownups? They were above pettiness and brinkmanship and they were just sort of removed from childish competition?
Well, I missed the mom memo about that one.
I used to think I wasn’t competitive. Then I ran the ten miler and I ran it 28 seconds per mile slower than last year (which is like a m-i-l-l-e-n-i-u-m slower in the running world) and I wanted to pull my hair out and scream and I realized that okay, I’m kind of competitive with myself.
But not with anyone else. I’m sure of it.
Then I realized that Whit and I will be somewhere with both our cars and, just to torment me, he’ll say, "Race you home" because he knows that, once challenged, I will drive like a bat out of holy hell with Satan himself on my tail to pull into the driveway first.
But that’s it. I’m competitive with myself, and my husband. And kind of immature. Certainly that's it. Just that.
Oh, but then.
Then the kids will ask the neighbors to go to the park and have a family versus family wiffle ball tournament.
And, let’s just say, their kids play differently than ours do.
Like they move the bases. And hide them.
Or like they intercept the ball and throw it away, down the field, so their team can score.
Or like they get really mad if they’re out, and they stomp off and leave the game for an unspecified period of time.
Or like they just walk away from the base they’re on and start rolling down the hill.
So, that all can happen, and I can bite down on the competitive boil that’s simmering in me and I can laugh and say, "Oh, ha ha ha ha ha, kids." In my head, I’ll add, "YOUR kids, that is."
Then. Then one of their kids will slide into second base. A sliiiiiide. A good slide. A great slide. But, unfortunately, a hard slide. The kind of slide with which you know he’s wishing he could turn back time to that morning and put on pants, not shorts, because he’s got a dirt-burn up the side of his leg that probably hurts like hell.
Then we’ll rush over and make sure he’s okay and then his dad will say, "Hey, at least you slid in under the tag."
And I, the second basewoman, will clear my throat, and look at Whit, and set my mouth, and shake my head so slightly.
And then his dad will say, enthusiastically, "Great playing! Mrs. Kennon couldn’t tag you!"
And I, with the fresh memory of tagging the base with the ball a good solid hour before that kid came close to me, will start to get agitated. I will give Whit a capital-L Look and a slightly more emphasized shake of the head.
And Whit will give me a wary look that clearly means, "He’s a kid. And he’s hurt. So let’s just call it safe."
And I can’t do that. Because he was out. Hurt or not, I tagged the base. And fair is fair. And that’s three outs, so it’s our turn at bat. Or they need to forfeit, and we’re winning.
But no one is paying attention to me.
And so I start to sulk.
And then Whit is in the horrible position of lecturing me, a grownup, about my attitude (to which I reply that MY attitude is not really the problem) and half the team gets tired of the drama and starts rolling down the hill and the game goes up in flames and I’m trying to get just one person to admit that kid was out and we won.
And then Jack will look at me, and laugh at me, and say, "Mommy, it doesn’t matter if you win or lose as long as you have fun" and I want to look at him and say, "That is CRAP and you know it" but I can’t because I did actually get the mom memo on that.
And then Caroline will sidle up to me and say, "Mom, seriously? He was totally out."
And I will feel vindicated, and I will hold my head high, and I will walk off the field feeling like an adult again.
And then Whit will wink and say, "Race you home."
And I will realize that people can stop waiting for me to grow up, because I just don't think it's ever going to happen.