Gary and I hit the road for a mini-road-trip into Hicksville yesterday evening to watch the kids play soccer. We got there early and wandered around the park, watching for little blonde heads bounding our way, but as the first game time neared…nothing.
We sat down near the gate, figuring the kids would be there soon. We sat…and watched…and waited.
Game time came and went, and Gary was just digging his cell phone from his pocket when we saw his ex’s car swing up to the entrance to drop off Bear and Sunflower, who were playing first. They hit the ground running, heading for their fields.
Sunflower saw Gary first, and she veered off course and ran toward him instead. Bear soon followed. Gary hugged them both, then I walked Bear to his field and Gary walked with Sunflower, since they were already quite late for their games.
Gary had commented how the kids seem to grow every time we see them, and it’s true. Wolverine is as tall as I am (which, according to Gary and Wolverine and their numerous short jokes, is not that tall at all), and Bear and Sunflower are quickly gaining on him. At least Dove is still shorter than me. For now.
Wolverine joined us, and then Dove. I’ve noticed something about Dove that disturbs me: she is like a completely different child when she is in Hicksville, compared to how she is in our home. She had to be reminded pretty quickly that her “do this, do that, now” bratty attitude doesn’t fly with Gary or with me the way it apparently does with others. When adults she spends so much time with behave the same way, though, it is difficult to teach her otherwise. As if to illustrate that point, Dove was soon picked up from the game and whisked back to her mother’s parents’ house.
All of the kids played great in their games. They like to pull out the soccer ball and hit the field near our house, and last weekend a few neighborhood kids joined in for an impromptu game, so they’ve definitely been getting practice.
Gary took a million pictures and was already transferring them to the computer early this morning. He is such a proud papa bear at the games, pointing out every good move the kids make and bristling when the coach criticizes. (One particular coach has the social skills of the ass end of a horse and zero capability to work with children).
Someone else who was supposed to be there to watch the kids play instead plastered a phone to her ear the entire time, with no discernible concern what the kids were doing or where they were at any given time, wearing a tight-lipped, pissy grimace as if being there was pure torture. The kids didn’t seem to notice this indifference. Maybe they’re just used to it.
Every trip to Hicksville leaves me with the same mixed emotions. I’m always happy to see the kids, always have a good time watching them with their dad, and I love seeing how happy it makes Gary to be with them. Yet seeing the town the kids live in now, spending time immersed in that backward “culture” (or lack thereof), the narrow minds, the low standards, the lack of aspiration to do or be anything better, is always dismally frightening. How much of that sinks into the kids’ heads? How much have they already lowered their own standards to match those around them? They deserve better; they are better.