Monday, August 13, 2012

I posted a quick status on facebook this morning and I was floored at the outpouring of support I received from everyone. I will admit when I posted I was in a very Mama Wolf place. And so the ( shorter ) version is known I will just fill everyone in.
Upon dropping the girls off today I was heading back to work when Emm calls me up, obviously upset. I turn around and as I am walking up to the front of the school I see the girls standing outside by the car drop of point, crying. Crying!!! Not in the school... not in an office or even by the front door. No... right where the kids get out of the cars. They were not allowed into the school because of their hair. And Abi's pants, which were Emm's uniform pants from last year. But that is a minor thing. After a talk with a counselor I was a little calmer but was still not guaranteed that they could stay the day. So we spoke with the principal. She and I were both heated and both trying to get out points across. And while I was trying to be understanding but yet defensive I felt she wasn't exactly listening to me. I was willing to try and work things out with the school but the "sterility and conformity" comment sent me over the edge. Emm said my face completely changed when she said that. The other thing that irked me was their solution to the "problem" was to either dye their hair a dark colour or have it stripped/bleached, and the school would pay for it. I have a rule when it comes to the hair... I don't care what colour but nothing permanent and NO bleaching. Once the principal figured out that it was not permanent and would wash out with in the month then it was considered settled as long as it is fading by the end of the week then they could still come to school and just don't dye it again.

Fast forward a very busy and grumpy first day....

After I got off from work I went to the middle school to get a medical form for Abi.... the nurse was in a meeting and so I decided to wait. While sitting there the Principal walks in with the area Superintendent. They are walking around and such  and then go into her office. As he is leaving he passes by me and I stopped him. He immediately took a defensive pose and I let him know that what I had to say was good and a compliment and he loosened up. I thanked him for the kindness he showed my daughters last year when my Grandfather passed away. He left a group of obviously important people and personally walked Emm to her locker and allowed Abi to follow. He then hugged them and said some kind words to them and then to me. There was some chit chatted and he asked me how Argyle's first day went. We shook hands and he left. Now, I could have just let him walk out and not said a word today but I knew the principal would come out of her office at some point soon. Hehe. Well hello! Who is now in front of me wanting a moment of my time?

Hello Principal. Well we went into her office and not at her desk, but 2 chairs set up on the other side. We had a talk... there were many apologies and admittances of imperfections. She agreed she did not handle it well at all, and I agreed. I also apologized, though. I did come at her in that way only I can. I can be soft and squishy, but when my cubs are crying you had better not be the one who caused the tears to fall.  She said she was trying to protect my girls from the other kids because kids can be cruel. My response? They are sisters whom are 17 months apart... Who can be more cruel then they are too each other! She made note that she saw me talking to the Superintendent and that she wanted me to know she already spoke to him about my girls and several others in the school. He made it clear that by no means can anything be said about their hair. I made it clear my talking to him had nothing to do with her. I think she was relieved.

So all in all, my little freaks can continue to be little freaks. I will be keeping my eye on the principal and how she treats the kids. I love how Emm protected her sister and despite everything kept her head. She also came up with a plan on how to fight this before she knew it had been resolved. Despite it all they still had a great first day and are looking forward to the coming year. It should be interesting.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Women and Paintball

I wanted to come up with something really catchy and quirky as my post heading, but really when it comes down to it, if someone googles "women" and "paintball" I want this found. I want this found because there is nothing but outdated B***S*** when you type in these 2 words. Half and sometimes fully naked women with painted on splatters and guns that are shiny and new. Cheap tee shirts on Zazzle with corny catch phrases and lame graphics. Now I will admit that today I changed my fb profile picture to a cartoon of a redhead in combat boots, daisy dukes and an olive green tank top and huge boobs. But lets face it... other then the daisy dukes it looks like me when I play. Hehe. In all seriousness though I am... well I am not sure what I am. If it is confused, or pissed or saddened by the lack of a woman's imprint on the sport. Let me start from the beginning.

My BFF is a lovely man. He has brightened up my life in many ways and introducing me to paintball is one of them. Ranger told me he was going to play one day and said he had an extra gun and would like for me to go. Thought I might be pretty good at it. Hmmmm, guns+ getting dirty+ shooting at live people= HELL YEAH! I was all sorts of excited all the way there and upon arrival at the field. Eyes wide open taking in all the sights and sounds. Listening to everything Ranger told me. Then I walked out onto the field. I wanted to shit a brick. Jump into a stack of tires and hide until it was over. Then the horn blew and something primal kicked in. The paint started flying and I went from shaking to running full throttle. I found out pretty quick that I like to be on the front lines... I am small and fast and balls to the wall.

Ranger got me my own gun. A Kaos pump (Black Betty) and I learned how to play strategically with it. When walking onto a field I feel I was looked down upon since I was a woman. Add in the pump and I was a joke. Then they realized the shots that were hitting them were from me. I think I earned some respect when I was dared to play a speedball game with my pump. Held my own and was the last man out on my team all three games. Of course on that last game I was lit up, point blank, by a 10 year old. For the record he only lives because I couldn't move.  Ranger and I played many a game together after that. Last Spring I bought myself a Tippmann Carver. Ranger had some Tippmann 98's that I played with and I knew Tippmann was the way I wanted to go. Carver came up at a good price and I couldn't not take it. I fell in love the moment I held him. I think I wouldn't mind a 98 in the future. Something I can play around with and modify but as far as guns go I am very happy. Ranger moved away last Summer and I was left alone. Left alone in a mans world.

I think the first time I went to the field alone I was more nervous then the first time I ever played. He was known around there. He walked in and people knew his name, his guns, the team he played on. I was the Robin to his Batman. There, but just as easily, not. I talked myself out of going three times before I couldn't take it any more. I NEEDED to go. I needed to let off some steam, so I gave in and went. The refs remembered me and asked about Ranger. They were sorry to see him gone but glad I was out there. The players didn't give me much notice. I think they looked at me and dismissed me pretty quick since I am "just a girl". Hell, I have gone onto a field and looked at women and had the, "Oh dear God, it's a chick. Save us.", thoughts. I had two women at my back one time in a castle game. They could have run right in an won the game... I would have layed down some paint to keep them safe. They wouldn't move! They looked at me and said they didn't want to get shot. I asked them "Why the F*** are you HERE then?" before I ran towards the castle doors and took 4 to the chest. So I understood the comments I heard and the jokes. But then I went on the field and started asking their strategy.  Who was going where? Who knew the field and it's layout? No answers? I would start barking out orders. When the horn blows, I'm gone... out front and center. Yelling out positions of the other team and telling guys to move up. Encouraging and leading if need be. Yes, it's just a game but it's a game of war and in war you need a leader. I have been playing on my own since last fall and when I left last week I had refs and players alike shaking my hand and saying they can't wait to play again and they are NOT trying to get in my pants. I was one of the guys.

But the reality is that this is a guys sport. I go to the field and I am easily the only woman out of 100 guys. If there are others, they have rental gear and are obviously there with their men. They usually do not last after 2 games and complain the whole time while giving me dirty looks. But then, while looking at some fields back home in NY, it was like a whole other world. Pictures of women, lots of women, playing. And smiling paint stained smiles. Wearing camo and doing maintenance on their own guns! I was floored and it started my quest to find out more about women in the sport. A year later and I think there is even less then I found last summer. Any article I find about women in paintball is a "how to" on getting your wife/sister/mom/girlfriend to come and play with you, or "women play this sport and they have teams and yeah, that's about it". I read one article about Kimberly Ma, written by a photographer who was shooting her. After she no longer played. Well written but not life changing for me. Maxim did a lovely spread in '04 of Women in Paintball. All size 2 and beautiful. Teams I read about, websites I find, women's names I come across... all outdated. Pictures? That's a joke. I don't wear any gear besides a mask and gloves, but I wear clothes.  And why only speedball? I can't be the only woman who prefers woodsball and city games.

Gear is also a problem I have come across. Type in "women's paintball gear" and you will get tons of hits with links to paintball sites they say "sorry, no matches". Or my favorite is the occasional pink gun or jersey. Because all women love pink... right? When I play I am in a pair of women's fatigues and an olive green tank top. I wear a mask and full finger gloves. I tried chest protectors but they are geared towards men. I have DD cups and something that is meant to be worn flat bends in half over these babies. I would rather take the chance I might get hit then manuver around a peice of foam that does get in my way. I would love a jersey but if I am going to be dropping $50 - $100 on something, I want all the padding to be in the right places and not in my arm pits. I want it to fit me and not look like I am wearing my dads shirt with a pizza box underneath. I found a motorcross company with gear for women. It was pretty interchangable with PB gear, but it was an infant company and they had 3 colours. White/pink, white/yellow and white/blue. Mud may come out of white but I have jeans that are forever PB jeans thanks to some paint.

 I have nothing against pink... in fact I am embracing it more now with my equipment. I used to not want to be seen on the field and with woodsball that is the norm. But here lately I have been playing city more and more and I want these guys to know it's me kicking their butts. So this week Carver got a makeover. Camo was just to mainstream... but as a lover of old vintage cars I came across an idea. I placed lace over the gun and the hopper and sprayed it with pink pearl glitter model car spray paint. The gun itself looks more camo  but on the hopper you can make out the lace detail. I painted the accents and half the barrel pink too. No doubting who shot them now.

I am a mom of 2 girls who hosts a knitting group on Saturdays at the local coffee house and on Sundays I dress up for war and go kick some ass. I wear my hits as a badge of honor because they do not mean I am a terrible player.. they mean that I was the one who threw down her gun and ran for the flag when no one else would.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Apple and Bug and the Very Adult Week.

     I have amazing kids. I mean , yes I know everyone says that but even if they weren't mine I would still feel the same. They are both dealing with some things this week that I am not sure most adults could handle with such ease and kindness.
     Apple is 11 and in the 5th grade. Monday it came out that one of her classmates was pregnant. The news spread like wild fire amongst the adults and yes,  I am also guilty.  There are many versions of what happened, whether by choice or chance I am unsure. Honestly I don't care, I am not here to judge. No matter that she is as tall as I am and has hit puberty full on, she is a child plain and simple and all the "stories" have pointed to older boys or men. I used this situation to sit down and talk to my girls. App looked positively stricken. In fact I thought she was going to throw up. Bug, being in Middle School has become a little more jaded to the on goings between  the kids and while she has not known anyone personally, she knows the possibilities of a pregnancy are there. Has heard things and known people who know people, yadda yadda. Fifth grade... 5th! These girls should still be playing with Barbies and watching Hanna Montana. Okay, maybe both are bad examples but you get my point.  Apple, while fueled with all this knowledge has not said one word to anyone.... She has the HUGEST morsel of gossip. TV shows are built around situations such as this and she has not uttered a word.
    Now like I said I sat down and talked with the girls. Of course about the obvious. They know the basics about sex... have asked questions and know that pregnancy and STD's are a risk. But this makes it hit close to home. It is real... these things happen. But I have also used it to show them about gossip and humanity in general. I have heard so many stories and versions and the whole chinese telephone effect of it all. If it comes around now to me I just say "Yes, I know a student is pregnant and yes I know who it is. No I know nothing else and I'm not saying who it is." When this girl walked in today, you saw the weight of the world on her shoulders. To say she looked stricken would be vastly understating it.  Apple noticed too and brought it up after school. She was concerned because she noticed that the girl didn't eat lunch and then just got up and walked out. I see the wheels turning in App's head on how does she help her... even just walk up and let her know she is there for this girl in some way, but can't. Apple has to keep this knowledge to herself.
    Now while there is new life in our school, Bug is dealing with the death of her best friends Mom. In January she told me her BFF was going through a lot because his mom had cancer. Well on Monday she found out she passed away. While the other kids are texting "when are you coming back" she is trying to keep his spirits up and give him a shoulder. She asked me today if she could meet him for an hour at the coffee shop near his house during spring break next week. She told me she is worried about him being cooped up in the house to long with no outlet for his grief. Thinks getting out if even for a little while might be good for him. What adult thinks of that let alone a 12 year old. We talked a bit about it all. She doesn't understand why the other kids are sort of blase about the whole thing. I explained that many people don't deal with a whole lot of death in their lives, especially at such and early age. By the time she was 11 she lost 2 grandparents and 2 extremely close family friends in four completely different ways. One was sick, one natural, one an accident and one suicide. Bug has seen the many ways people cope with these losses and how even one person can mourn in different ways. There are no words to really describe Bug and how she deals with the world. I see a lot of me in her but then, she is her own person. She is so innocent and yet handles things with this ease of a worldly person. She has a friend that was raped by her step dad and cuts herself.... Bug does not judge, does not try and get her to stop but tries to get her to channel the pain in humor. Morbid comedy... something our family does well. She can crack jokes that should not come so easily from a child but yet make sense in the situation. Bug told me recently that a friend of hers didn't realize that her father and I were divorced... that she came from a "broken home". When she asked why he said that, he told her that he thought all kids of divorced parents were sullen and depressed. She laughed. Said that no, it hadn't been easy but it got better. And then I think she cracked some joke about extra presents at holidays and 2 homes.
      I know I am not always going to get it right as a parent. I try my hardest but I am only human. But my kids are human too and I try and remember that every day. I try and look at each of my students and remember that. Every little face... little set of eyes hold a growing soul that while yes, they are just "kids" will one day become adults. Some sooner then others. Each one has a story and I am glad that my girls see that, too.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Relationships Suck

      Something happened at work yesterday. I am not sure what, and I am baffled by the whole thing. I went in feeling like crap after a visit to the Urgent Care for an allergic reaction, the day before. Loaded up on steroids I knew I would be having to keep myself in check and just be mellow. Boss Lady kinda gave me the " You weren't here yesterday and everything that went wrong was your fault" speech. But Kitten and Hey Lady perked me up and the day went on. The day was tense, Nacho Day... everyone is feeling run down and just ready for the week to be over. And then it happened....whatever "it" was. Boss Lady yelled at me, and I had no fight in me. I knew she wasn't right but I saw her point, so I just let it slide. I noticed right away Hey Lady was pissed.. so I figured that BL got on her, too and asked what was up. I was not expecting the explosion of hatred focused at me. One day later I am still not sure what happened, what she told me made no sense and was not true but she won't speak to me now.
       Why does this bother me so? Why as adults do we get more upset when a co worker, friend or stranger comes at us with negativity. Oddly enough while I am going through this I had a teacher come up to me and ask the same thing. Why does it hurt so much when someone whom we think is a friend or even just an acquaintance all of a sudden is, quite simply, mean? Since I didn't have Hey Lady to cut up with today, I did a lot of thinking.   
        I am around kids all day. I see how they interact and deal with each other. How they group off, chose their friends and who they allow close and keep at a distance. As adults I don't think we have the luxury that kids do. They have a  public swimming pool of people to chose from while we get a 3 ring blow up.  They are around their friends everyday and if there is drama it gets taken care of right away. If Jenny hurts Becky's feelings Becky starts crying and the other kids rally around her, then an adult might get involved. It gets worked out one way or another and by lunch Becky and Jenny are sitting together and laughing. We don't have that luxury. Crying is a weakness, we analyze the whole situation and then we back off. We retreat into our head, our own personal space and try and figure it all out. The stretch of silence makes things more stressful and I think the situation gets worse. Negativity surrounds the whole thing and then the situation either diffuses itself and you move on or you never get past it. While the kids wonder what is wrong with the kid who made them cry, we automatically wonder what is wrong with us.
         It is hard for us to make friends. You graduate high school/college and the public pool turns into a backyard above ground. You have your friends that you have always known but you don't get to see them as often. You get a job... get married and life takes over. Beers every Friday turns into once a month if you can find the sitter or if you are not working late (again). One might make a friend or two at work or a couple in the neighborhood. Moms might start talking at the park while the kids run around, but is it creepy to say "Hey, can I give you my number... we can shoot the shit while the kids play."? Dating? don't let me get started on that... You think it is hard to make friends. I learned that the hard way. How do you meet a possible life partner when you can't even talk to the other moms at Open House. Even though I am outgoing and bubbly the friends/dating thing was hard. I am lucky that I have met the friends I have and Wolf is a man's man who took the first step. And he's lucky I stalked him.. lol. Through them I have been able to expand my swimming waters and continue to meet great people. 
          But tonight I will go to sleep with a heavy heart still wondering why the things that happened at work happened and will I get to hear Hey Lady's wind chime laugh again after one of my fart jokes.