Ahhhh spring is in the air. The o’erripe trees are blossoming allergens in a haze that tries to beat out the bigcity congestion which normally settles over this dusty desert tar oasis. Spring, time for birds and bees and gorgeous strawberry blooms nestled between newly sprouted sunflower blossoms. In our little corner of the world, this is the time before the blazing heat settles in and the traumatic dog days of summer portend monsooning rain, but rather just spittles dust in the too hot breeze that doesn’t even cool the shade. The african daisies are just losing thier colors and at the ready for a seeding to bust the cold next year – not that it really ever gets that cold here, but we like to pretend near-freezing weather. And while spring is damning us all to ignore the obvious heat that will strike all too soon (maybe even next week), we are at play outdoors and chillin’ in the cool dusky nites alight with base-/t-ballers. Yes, I have mentioned the joy of children’s sports before… but this week an obvious point struck me as I watched the jewish families engage in some awful superiority-esque shunning of us gentiles wearing the same color jerseys from ‘our’ team. I had the profound thought that parents who like x-games and are into skate-/snow-boarding, surfing and the like do not push their kids. There are no fathers screaming on the sidelines that a kid should just “suck it up” when struck by a flying skateboard or stray surfboard. It just doesn’t happen. Parents at the beach or skate parks or whereever (if ever they are present) do not see $$$$ signs in the sporting unless it is referenced by the E.R. bills that are sure to accompany such adventures. Yet ‘recreational,’ or ‘team’ sports have plenty of parents on the sidelines just hoping that their little one will be the burgeoning superstar to come. It’s a miraculous treasure during this season, to play a little too late, eat dinner just before bathtime, and sip wine under the rising moon. Hearing the squeals and catterwalling of children at play should be a part of the joy. And maybe I am too nostalgic for my impoversished youth, but we did not have organized sports outside of school in my neighborhood. If the coach didn’t pick you out of the P.E. lineup for special attention or a spot on the school team, you didn’t play. I don’t recall try-outs or individual meritting. You were told during drills in class that you were to show up after school and I don’t know anyone who didn’t. I know there was some soccer and baseball and softball leagues in our neighborhood, but I didn’t know a single person who played on them. And I was a pretty social kid who knew a lot of people! So when we wanted to play volleyball we showed up at the park on Sunday afternoons with a ball and someone would draw a line in the dirt for a ‘net.’ When we wanted to play basketball we really played ‘horse.’ And football was supposed to be the touch variety running the length of our street from the front of our house to the bushes halfway down the block – although ‘touch’ often meant asphalt jungles on your knees (mine are a scarred mess to this day from being the baddest footballer on the block despite my gender and age). We rode our bikes bmx-style over the dirt hills that magically appeared at night next to the large military base that is surrounded by a larger present-day cancer cluster. We played hard. And while I am not a raving fan of the “Dangerous Book for Boys” I do see the value in less structured, less civilized, less supervised play. My kids do not know what it is to run off with a sense of freedom ’til sundown. Of course they also do not know what it is to have an adult who is abusive or unavailable when needed. While these contradictions seem frought with solutionless pardigms… my boys are still being raised in a community of adults who expect, and expect more, and reach expectations unatainable to the average bear. It’s like every kid has to be ‘gifted.’ And every kid really does believe that they are destined for greatness like Britany Spears or George Bush. I suppose in some ways that’s a good thing, but some kids are just average. Some kids put rocks in their ears instead of paying attention, and they shake their booties when people are watching intead of keeping an eye out for the ball. And wouldn’t it be just great to let kids wish for themselves instead of wishing to be good enough for us tainted adults? I don’t know what the answer is, but I know that I don’t like kid’s sports. I don’t like families being snied to one another over percieved differences. I don’t like superiority-complexes. I don’t like the one-up-ing of mamaness. My kid is different than yours, that doesn’t mean he’s not a genius; it means he’s not busted for smokin’ dope or chasing girls in middle school and he’s still gonna go to a great high school after we turn down the shishyschool. So why all the fuss? Coz’ there has just got to be somethin’ better than what we are doin’ and hangin’ our hopes on. Since the kids doesn’t manifest any real trauma in the immediate, it’s an easy out. And since there is no referee there is no one who can connect the dots from a little league game to real self-esteem matters. But somehow Iam sure that we don’t really have to foster nike slogans of ‘just doin’ it’ child-rearin’. We don’t have to sweat gatoraded droplets when childhood grimey slop will do. Today was a beautiful day, the moon is rising over a lovely cool evening, so maybe we should just let the kiddos play some ball for the shear fun of it… and leave it at that. nothing more. nothing less. maybe just may be our kids could just…play.