Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner

Nothing Finer than Living in North Caroliner
Blue Ridge Smoky Mountains

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Day 69 - I'm Seventeen and I Know All I Need to Know

Mitch Albom quoted on Sports Reporters that no seventeen year old knows everything.  And according to the thirty year old male that I sit next to in my class, males don't admit this until around the age of twenty-four.  That's when as he says, men start to "get it."  As a mother of two male young adult sons, there are days when I just want to hang up my hat and sing, Mama was a rollin' stone, wherever she lay her hat was her home.  And when she died....

That next line always brings me back to reality.  Ok I can't exchange my sons at the local retail store for new ones although at moments I'd like to do that.  For the protection of my sons I won't give the specifics but I will say that the first time I was in a court room I felt like I was on Candid Camera.  What am I doing here?  I never broke a law (except speeding), I tried to live my life as a good person, I'm a referee for God's Sake, I implement rules not break them.  I was embarrassed.  I am embarrassed and hopefully I won't always be embarrassed but for now I just can't break the link that bonds Mother and son.  What I mean by that, is I feel they are my extension.  What they do is a reflection on me.

Looking at the wood furniture from inside a Judge's chamber is surreal.  Using the words Your Honor are for television actors and movie actresses not me.  I don't want to be judged as a parent when they have acted in a way that isn't consistent with what I have taught my children.  When a young person commits an act of violence and it makes the news what is the first thing we ask?  "What about the parents?"  This used to be a valid question when parents, neighbors, and communities looked out for each others children.  Today this is furthest from the truth.

The fans, coaches and players don't know much about the personal lives of officials.  We are real people too.  We have families and problems and stories that aren't for the faint-hearted.  During a rough time in one of my son's life, he had runaway.  We reported him missing.  So after officiating games, I came home, took a shower and went to each of his friend's houses and knocked on doors. From 11:30 PM until 3 AM in the morning I asked other parents if they had seen my son.  They all said, they were sorry and no they hadn't.  I came home, got three hours sleep and got up to go to work and repeated this cycle for two weeks straight.  The parents were empathetic but quite frankly were sick of answering the door at wee hours in the morning. When I finally found him, not only was he at one of these same friend's houses, the mother was the Defense Attorney who was handling his case! 

The only comfort was that we were both mothers who had sons who were not doing what we had taught them.  She apologized to me and I to her.  She didn't know that her son had let my son stay in her garage.  Later I found out that other parents did in fact know and were committing a felony by harboring a runaway.  Nobody would prosecute when I called the police or as I call them "referees of our criminal system."  They would say if they didn't see it they couldn't do anything about it.  I saw my son run from the back of houses while I was knocking on the front door but because they didn't see it, no charges could be filed. As a person, I know this feeling of helplessness when offenders are protected by the rules themselves. As a referee, I have to have some evidence too.

There's a comic strip that I have enlarged and keep on a three-ring binder full of notes from basketball camps.  The comic shows a referee standing looking down at a basketball player in uniform with his hands and feet taped behind his back with duct tape.  His mouth too has duct tape on it.  The referee says to the player, "Hey, I understand your frustration, OK? But if I didn't see it happen, I can't call it."

Notice the numbers stretching

Through the years I have found that I can't see every foul, especially if a foul is committed at a closed angle.  If a post player would come to me and tell me he or she is being fouled, I ask them to put both of their hands in the air next time this happens.  I watch the match up and 100% of the time the numbers on the jersey are yanked out of proportion and I can see the evidence that allows me to blow the whistle. Technically I didn't "see the foul" but the numbers on a jersey don't change from 00 to 88 without some unnatural form of defense. The right thing to do is to acknowledge their claim and explain that you need proof.  Give the referee the evidence.

I guess that's why young adults won't listen.  We actually have done a good job of telling them to think for themselves.  Look for their own evidence.  As they experience their own life, they will try to prove to parents that we are wrong. But evidence usually rears its ugly head in the form of experience and the wisdom that's born from it. Every time they come to me and say, "Mom, I'm going to do what you told me," I smile and feel like they are "getting it."  It's just so hard not to beat some sense into them before they get to that point.  But then I have to remind myself that sitting back allows them to get their own experience and to understand that their decisions have consequences.  The right thing to do for me during these times is to tell myself they are not extensions of me at all until they mature.  If only parents were allowed to give out technical fouls and send their kids to the bench of life until their twenty-fourth birthday.

Maturity is that time when the mirrors in our mind turn to windows and instead of seeing the reflection of ourselves we see others. ~Unknown

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