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Mother Puckers

In the book “Outliers,” Malcolm Gladwell claims that to become a success at something you must complete 10,000 hours of practice; whether its music (the Beatles) golf (Tiger Woods) or computer programming (Bill Gates.)

Let’s just say, I think a lot of parents in my town have read this book and are frantically having their kids bang out some hours.

Let’s just say, I too, am a little competitive, and have been known to hate losing.  

I mean let’s be real people – who wouldn’t want a little Justin Beiber running around their huge mansion that he buys for me house.

So I sometimes get nervous that over here in the Gaga household we really haven’t started chipping away at the old 10,000 hours yet.

We have to find something first.

Tick – tock.

I mean these kids aren’t spring chickens……Michael is already 6. 

I think Michael Jackson already had a gold record by then – and McCauley Culkin was probably already nailing his audition for “Home Alone.”

Just sayin…..

I mean the streets of gold aren’t going to pave themselves…..

So last year – when my then 5-year-old announced that he would like to play hockey  – I thought it was a great idea.  We signed up for a “learn to skate” program. 

Some people said “You are nuts! It’s so expensive! It’s so much travel and you have to wake up at 5 am and go to games!”

I would just look at them knowingly – and explain that it was something that Michael wanted to do – so we were willing to try it out.

(In my head I thought – I am a super-awesome mom and you aren’t! I am willing to sacrifice so that my son can start his 10,000 hours and you are selfish.  5 am game time is no problem for my husband us – because we are great parents ……and you are assholes.   Have fun waiting for your short little white kid to get drafted for basketball…..losers….)

So that first day of hockey – my son fell 500 times.  It was absolutely heart-breaking to watch him flail about on the ice like a sea-lion.
God love him – he kept trying and he wanted to go back the next time, and so we kept going and he started to learn to skate.

But then I met …….the HOCKEY MOMS.   You have heard of the “soccer mom?” These women blow them out of the water…….(possibly with a rifle if it’s Sarah Palin we are talking about.)

It's probably not good that this is America's self-proclaimed "Hockey Mom".......

I quickly found out I wasn’t the awesome, superior mother I thought I was…….the “hockey moms” let me know that – real quick.
“Ooohhh – he’s just starting now?”  one mom said with a sad face watching Michael flail about on the ice on his belly like a beached whale.  “My son started when he was 3.”
“Hunter started when he was 2,” another mom said knowingly as her son zipped by us at the speed of light (backwards.)
“Well – Corey started when he was 3 months and now he’s 6 and looking to get drafted,” another mother added.
Ok – I made up the last one – but I think she was thinking it…..

This kid kept taking breaks to lay down - what a slacker. At least Michael did better than him......

So basically what they all wanted me to know was that at the early age of 5 years old – Michael was too late to start his 10, 000 hours.   Not only was I not the best mother in America like I had originally believed I was a horrible mother!!
So as usual – this is what I am up against in this crazy world of parenthood.   We ended up doing 20 weeks of skating last year and we were happy with our choice.
This year a lot of parents with kids Michael’s age (who by the way weren’t any better than Michael) – were going to put them on the town team.  This meant paying $500, and going every Saturday and Sunday at 8 am from early October until April. 
Michael was playing soccer until November and we thought he really wasn’t ready to play on the team (skill-wise.)
“Oh Tucker wasn’t ready either – so I hired Oksana Baiul’s coach.  We have private lessons 4 times a week.” one mother told me when I voiced my concerns.
WTF?  The only thing I do 4 times a week is laundry and who am I kidding I don’t even do  that.  If I spent the time and money for those lessons – my son better magically transform like in the Black Swan movie – into Oksana Baiul.

Strangely - this is what Tucker looks like now - after weeks of private lessons.....

“We did a summer camp where they played hockey all day everyday. They cried every morning that they didn’t want to go – but it helped,” another mother said.
Really – on a beautiful hot summer day -your kids were indoors on ice skates?Meanwhile – we were eating ice cream from the Good Humor man and going crabbing all summer….ooops. 
Needless to say – since I am failing miserably in the 10,000 hours department – when we picked back up this week with hockey it was a disaster.  We signed Michael up for a more advanced “Hockey Skills” class that we weren’t really sure he was ready for.
He was not.  He went to retrieve a puck and got stuck in the net and couldn’t get out and got demoted back to “Learn to Skate.”
“This is our fault! Maybe we should have done the summer camp!” I cried to my husband, “We are horrible parents – maybe Oksana is still available….”
“It’s more important that he had a fun summer and a normal childhood,” Mr. Gaga responded.
What is the right answer?? 
For now – we are going to work on skating for another season – and possibly sign up for a summer camp to keep up with it …..
(that is only if it doesn’t interfere with my “How to turn your child into the next YouTube Sensation seminar.)


I read an article lately that discouraged preschool sports, citing injuries to little bodies that are still developing as a potential problem. The article also said that “studies have shown that kids who take sports as preschoolers are no more likely to play sports in high school than those who don’t.”

They might be onto something.

My 3-year old just finished basketball and will start tennis and swimming in a couple of weeks. My 5-year-old is finishing ice hockey next week and will go right into baseball and swimming. He asked to do track, but we said no. But they want to do these activities! It’s never my idea to spend $200 on helmets, skates, registration fees. I just figure what’s the harm in keeping them active, fending off obesity and learning to be on a team?

My husband played division one sports and got recruited for both baseball and football, so I always defer to him before we sign up for anything.

“When you were little did you play sports.”
“When you were really little, like Sam’s age?”
“Oh my God, then maybe I should sign him up for baseball now!”
“Oh no, I didn’t start baseball until junior high….I’m talking about
bowling school.”
“Um, bowling school is not a sport. It was a place for your mother to smoke cigarettes and drink beer, while someone else watched you.”

Ok, so the moral to that story is that kids don’t have to start a sport at age 3 to become the next Tiger Woods. I actually think that most
parents that I interact with don’t know that. I have found that I could easily become one of those parents.

When my oldest was 3, about to turn 4, I signed him up for a “youth track” program at a local college. Since he was born he has NEVER been tired. He stopped taking naps at a very young age and started catapulting himself out of his crib at 15 months, further hindering the sleeping process. I thought even if he ran around the track once, maybe he would get tired.

The first day he ran 2 miles without stopping.

My husband and I, (emphatically NOT RUNNERS) stood on the sidelines smoking cigarettes watching in shock. We had to stop him for fear of his life. I remember looking at his little beet-red face thinking, “So this is my destiny…to be the mother of an Olympic
track star.”

One of my girlfriends said, “You should really videotape him, he’s going to need it for his E True Hollywood Story.”
(P.S. – He still wasn’t tired.)

So over the course of Fall track and Spring track my son made friends and wanted to be on the track with other 3/4 year-olds. Unfortunately, said 3/4 year-olds were always ” tired” or “had stubbed toes.”. It was infuriating to watch my track star walking the track with these lazy kids. We became crazed.

“If you want to walk Michael, we can go home and walk up and down the street…We are not here to play games, now RUN!” I said angrily during one particularly annoying session when he walked the
whole time. “What’s going to happen to you in life? Every time some loser wants to do their worst you are going to be by their side helping them????”

I at least had the sense to tell on myself to my husband when I got home.

“He wants to hang out with all these fat derelicts that walk the whole time. (looking back, the derelicts were 4 year-olds enjoying a walk around the track)
I’m turning into a crazy track mother. You have to take him next week, maybe if you run with him, he’ll run.”

No dice.

My husband tried to run with him and he wanted to go slow to walk with his friends.

“Come on Michael, let’s go! I’m beating you and I’m not even trying! Try to keep up!”
“Dad, I’m tired…’s not even a race.” Michael said, exasperated.
“EVERYTHING is a race!” my husband said like a lunatic.
Two mothers walked by and gave him a dirty look.

So we gave it up. Maybe he can go back to it some day, as he potentially could be a track star; but for now my husband and I had to take a break to work on being rational, non-competitive human beings.
So our house rule for now is only 2 sports per season;)

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