So...Memorial Day...pools, picnics, parades, am I right? Um...not so much for Team WestEnders. First, we had another soccer extravaganza to work around--this time, Riley's team's season-ender in Greensboro. On Day 1, Husband took the first game, since it involved a 9:30 start time, for which the coach wanted them to arrive at 8:30...and an hour-and-a-quarter commute. Since he's a much more...pleasant and alert...morning person, it actually was in everyone's best interests for Dad to escort our U14 player to his match. Around midday, I took to the road to meet them before the second shift, to switch off and allow Husband the afternoon at home. Thus I was able to spend a lovely couple of hours in the sunshine, watching my defender run around with his squad in what turned out to be a handy 4-2 victory to cap the day.
Day 2, however, threatened to be a bit...dicey...with the weather forecast threatening the possibility of quite a bit of precipitation, due to fallout from Tropical Storm Bonnie. Husband offered to--literally--take one for the team, stating reasonably, "It doesn't make much sense for two of us to be out in showers and thunderstorms....and I'm far more likely to stand in the rain and watch a game than you are, right?" Oh, sooooo true, dear. And thank you! Extra props, too, because it was even his birthday, and he still chose to do the Soccer Duties, rather than lie around eating Cheetos and watching ESPN all day. (Not that, you know, he actually would stoop to consuming artificial-cheese-dust-covered puffs...and he does love standing on the sidelines cheering during the kids' sporting events....so yeah, in all honesty he wasn't at all put out by the "sacrifice" : )
Oddly enough, it POURED in Chapel Hill, all morning, but stayed completely dry, just an hour west where they were holding the Wrangler/McDonald's Tournament. (Yeah, don't as me why it was sponsored by jeans...and poor quality fast food. These things do NOT seem to fit with athletics at all, but I'm not a marketer, so what do I know?) Arsenal didn't fare as well on Sunday, racking up a 1-0 loss and a 0-0 tie in shortened contests (which the organizers had decided to do, just in case the skies suddenly opened up...but they never did...eh, meteorology--whattya gonna do?). But Riley greatly enjoyed spending one last hurrah with his teammates, before they all go their separate ways--as some will be moving up to a higher age group, and others will be split among the two different levels of the league, depending on which one they opted to try out for in 2016-17.
Given the busyness of the regular weekend Saturday and Sunday, we found ourselves verrrry thankfully looking forward to that special element that comes with a holiday: Bonus Vacation Monday. A whole, free 24-hours to do absolutely NOTHING, yeah? Well....sort of...at least until Derek spoke the fateful words that I've come to expect every couple of months: "Mom, when can we go shoe shopping?" Siiiighhhhhh. Is it that time again already? At least we've got it down to a science by now--drive to the outlet center about a half-hour away, make a beeline straight for Nike and Under Armour (conveniently across from each other), pull out credit card, try not to think about the number as you sign the "Accept Outrageous Total" screen.
This time, we did have one slight detour to add to our trip; a stop at Columbia Outdoor Wear for a...bucket hat...as Derek so adorably calls it. Let me explain: you see, the Sophomore Posse like to roam around in the Carolina North Forest, adjacent to our neighborhood. Frankly, I'm not entirely sure what they do in there, besides stroll next to the creek...and apparently there's been some talk of "fishing"...whatever that might mean to these suburban boys. Anyway, last time Derek returned from hours spent tromping among the woodsy paths, the nape of his neck was bright red. I admonished him--as I've done repeatedly--that he needs to be more aware of applying sunblock. His slightly huffy reply was, "Hey, I was wearing a HAT!"
I glared at him and, in a tone of "Are you freakin' KIDDING me with this?" retorted, "You're aware that a baseball cap only covers your face, right? With an expression of "Oops...hoped to slip that one right by her" he sheepishly admitted, "Yeah...I know." I continued, "What you need is something with a brim all the way around, like a safari-type." He brightened considerably, "I'd wear one of those, if I had one!" So that's why we browsed the Columbia store, searching for an acceptable Indiana Jones- meets-teenager style of headgear. With that crucial mission accomplished, we could focus on our main objective, the footwear replacement plan.
Each kid required two pairs, this time (GULP!) so I let them loose in the aisles and got out of their way, until it was time to do the...painful paying portion...of our errand. At this point, I don't even need to give them the "stay away from anything over x-dollars" speech; they know it by heart. There was one amusing moment, however, when Derek earnestly asked, "Okay, Mom, so I'm gonna pick out one nice pair, and one K-Mart Special, right?" (Yes, we were still in the Nike emporium, by the way...frighteningly close to the $150 Lebrons that he knows darn well not even to think of mentioning...so NOT your discount bargain basement. And that brings up another question: the child's never, to my knowledge, been near a K-Mart....how the HECK does he even know what one IS? Their reputation for cheap merchandise precedes them? That is so unfortunate for a brand...)
I understood what he meant, but I shook my head and laughed anyway, prompting him to clarify, "Like, one pair that I'd use for school, and another for just goofing around, but that I wouldn't want to wear everywhere."(Oh, I get it, son....it's just that your "channeling an adolescent girl" moments are so few and far between that they still take me by surprise. Never in a million years would have guessed that you cared which shoes people spotted on your feet...or that some sneakers were "cooler" than others for guys. Anyway, carry on...)
And with that, luckily we were done--and without too much damage to the bank account, I'm happy to report. It was time to head home...but did I forget to mention that Derek was our chauffeur on this fine excursion? I tell ya, that boy still needs supervised practice hours by the dozens, so we've begun grabbing at any excuse for him to get his butt in the driver's seat. In this case, he had to maneuver on a narrow, shoulder-less, windy, hilly road--that he'd never driven before--for 20 minutes or so, followed by a couple of exits on Route 40. To his credit, he quickly figured out that NC 86 required his full attention and both hands tightly gripping the wheel in order for him to maintain control. And I sat very calmly on the passenger's side, a picture of serenity and confidence--no, really, he did fine, so it was mostly non-nerve-wracking...as much as possible, at least, when you're placing your life in the hands of a 16-year old newbie with fewer than 20 hours of experience under his belt...ooh, best not to think of that...forget I said anything...
I bring this up because the final adventure of our day involved Derek gaining some new insight and a valuable lesson...in how to fill up the gas tank. That's right, Husband's car was very low on fuel, and son had never performed this task before, so he got the full "swipe payment card, enter zip code, insert nozzle, select grade, set handle to automatically stay on, replace nozzle on pump, print receipt, close gas cap"...tutorial. Whole. New. Worlds, I tell ya. Soon he'll be ready for the open road...well...it'll probably still be quite a while, but I feel like I did my part to help out the cause...at least for today.
And so, here we are...at the "rest, relax and refresh" portion of our 3-day respite. Tomorrow, it's back to school and work and...whatnot...but for a few hours, we are livin' la vida loca! Or, I mean...LOUNGING...yeah, that's more like it...aaaaahhhhh....