June 23, 2014

Graduation 2014

Knowing that graduation was fast approaching, I wanted to write something about the experience.  At the beginning of the year, I went to our school’s Open House and silently wept most of the night because this was our daughter’s last year in this school.  She basically grew up with this community of people that have become like family to us.  I couldn’t stop thinking about how sad I was going to be when the day finally came that she would move on to high school.  It was just yesterday that I sent her off to pre-pre-school at the tender age of 2.  What was I thinking?

When she was only 4 years old, the school told me that she had mastered everything at and was ready for Kindergarten.  My husband and I had nothing to compare it to, and she was our oldest, so we went with their advice. This is funny, I remember that we had a birthday party for her within the first two weeks of starting school, and she received birthday cards that read, “Happy 6th Birthday”.  It took my husband and me a few moments to understand that she was the only child who was turning 5 years old.  Our daughter is (and has always been), the youngest kid in her class. So many people analyze the pros and the cons of holding their child back, but we never did.  We took the advice from her pre-school and sent her straight to kindergarten.  We both worked full time, and frankly, we never gave it a second thought.

Fast forward to this past weekend, and here she is, 13 years old, and she just graduated the 8th grade.  She’s officially going to high school in the fall and that’s something that I always thought happened to other people.  Now I’m one of them.  Crazy, I know.  But here’s the strange part.  On the day of her graduation, I wasn’t emotional, crying or freaking out.  In fact, she was so happy that it made me happy.  I looked at her with so much pride, that crying wasn’t an option. To know me is to know that I worry about things that haven’t even happened and may never happen.  I create scenarios in my head and then I worry about them, and they are all fiction?  Don’t ask...It’s a terrible quality, and one that I need to work on.

I went to a party with my husband the night after the graduation, and heard varying degrees about how scary high school can be.  People all like to say things like, “Oh Randi, there’s sex and drugs everywhere, you just have to hope you’ve done your job”. Or you might take to two parents (of the same child), and they each have a completely different take on what it’s really like when your kid starts high school. One parent will tell you the horrors while the other tells you that it’s the greatest thing that’s happened to their family.  I’m confused.

Last year, I spoke with a good friend whose daughter had moved on from our school to high school with so much grace.  I asked her how she was dealing with it.  She looked at me and said, “Randi, this is life, would you prefer that she was held back?  You want her to move forward.  Stop worrying about what could happen, it’s not going to do you any good.”  I walked away from that conversation thinking that she was a lunatic.  How could she think that I wouldn’t worry that my daughter was going to high school (in a year)?

Fast forward to this past weekend.  I saw this same mom and reminded her about our conversation.  She had remembered it and asked me how I was dealing with the process.  I suppose she was right.  It’s surreal that I’m old enough to have a kid going off to HS in the fall, but here we are.  We can’t worry about what hasn’t happened, or try to think about everything that could happen.  This is life and it’s full of change and risk and opportunity and as I type this I’m getting nauseous.  OMG I have a kid going to HS in the fall.

Are any of you here yet?  Email me at www.randiccrawford@gmail.com.

June 9, 2014

How Should We Define “Student Athlete”?

Have you seen the movie, “The Hunger Games”?  The scene where Katniss Everdeen is paraded in front of thousands of people, with her long dress that bursts into flames while she’s twirling round and round like she’s on top of the world.   But in reality, it’s all for show and what lies beneath is dirty and ugly.  That’s sort of how I feel right now.

I love watching the NCAA Men’s Basketball tournament more than any sporting event there is, but when I read that Shabazz Napier told reporters “He sometimes goes to bed starving because he can't afford food” it caught my attention.  Obviously he’s not starving, but I thought to myself, could this be partially true?  As I started digging, I realized that I was opening Pandora’s Box.  The subject of whether or not a “student athlete” should be paid is not black and white.  In fact, I learned that the term “student athlete” is the center of the controversy.  A “student athlete” at a Division I school receives a world-class education for free, in exchange for his talent on the court, plus an opportunity to showcase his talents.  Not to mention the players are treated like Gods around campus.  That’s the “flaming dress” part, here’s what I found when I looked behind the dress.

I spoke with a good friend, (Tom Greis) who went to Villanova with my husband and I, and played basketball.  Today, he’s an incredibly passionate sports fan who has walked a mile in these kids’ shoes.  He believes that student athletes are indentured servants, and he gave me some things to consider when sorting this out:  Men’s college basketball & football generates billions of dollars every year, with money coming from: ticket sales, sporting good stores that sell player’s jerseys and memorabilia, video games (my son has all of them at $59 a pop) using the likeness and numbers of the athletes, corporate sponsors who provide shoes, clothing and drinks, and the biggest revenue provider, television.   And with all the billions being generated, the “student athlete” sees none of it.  Now mind you, a “student athlete” is not allowed to go out and earn money using his likeness and/or his number.  Does that seem right to you?   Now hold on before you say, “Wait a minute Randi, they are getting a world class education, publicity on national television, and have the possibility of going pro”.  There’s much more to the story than all the glory.

There’s a misconception that a full scholarship takes care of everything including simple things like gas money, toiletries, and clothing.  A student who is on an academic scholarship has time to bring in some extra income, yet a full scholarship player can’t. Look at Mark Zuckerberg and his little side business.
Let’s talk about the world -class education, which is the compensation exchange for the talent on the court. A student athlete, (who has to re-sign their contract annually) has their entire schedule mapped out for them with zero input.  In 2003 the NCAA repealed a ruling, which set standards for SAT’s to get into school.  Today, the “student athlete” no longer needs to achieve a certain score on their SAT or ACT scores, but the school does have to graduate at least half of the members of the team in order for these kids to play in the post season, such as the recent NCAA tournament.  “Student athletes” are being given a course load to “keep them eligible”.  You can read between the lines.  An instructor at the University of North Carolina conducted research that showed 60% of basketball and football players read between 4th and 8th grade levels.  Should these players even step foot on campus in the first place?  We need Coach Carter.

How are we preparing them for jobs in the real world?  These kids are all one hit or injury away from losing their scholarships and careers forever, and will have nothing to fall back on.  That’s incredibly daunting.

Should “student athletes” get paid?  Should they be allowed to earn money off their personal skill set and likeness?  Should we add to “the list” of what their scholarship offers including more money for food, clothing, gas and toiletries?  And, how are we defining “student athlete”?   I’d love your thoughts.  Email me at www.randiccrawford@gmail.com.

May 26, 2014

Do Something That Scares You - Part 2

I left you wondering whether or not our Baltimore trip was the “experience of a lifetime” or a hot mess, and a lot of you emailed me, hot mess.  Thank you for the vote of confidence.  So here’s how it really went down.  I decided to find someone who could help us get around. I went into survival mode people.  I emailed a lacrosse dad from the OC, and I asked him for his help.  Yes, I felt like a complete idiot, but it was necessary, if I wanted my son to get to any of these fields.  He emailed me back and said that it would be fine.

The following day, I told my friend about what I had done, and suggested that I download the Uber app, and have them get us around Baltimore. I figured that I had a back up plan, if Plan A fell through and the OC dad changed his mind.  And then out of the blue, I received a text from my friend who told me that she was going to Baltimore. Just the thought of having another mom with me was beyond exciting.  It’s hard to explain the comfort level of knowing that a friend would be there with me, but trust me on this one, it was huge. And then a few days later, another friend emailed me and told me that she was going.  And then, the countdown for the Baltimore trip began.  I was flying by the seat of my pants and had no idea how it was going to turn out.  I’m a major control freak.  I never “ride” with my friends in their car if we’re all going out.  I have to know the plan, and have my own car (my escape route but it’s just the way I roll). 

Now we’re in Baltimore, it’s midnight, and I’m winging it.  We waited for our Marriott shuttle for about 30 minutes, which sort of wigged me out, but once the van picked us up, I was feeling much better.  We checked in and ordered room service around 1:00 am, and this is when I actually started to relax.  In fact, I felt pretty great that we were in Baltimore, at the hotel and everything was working out.  The next morning, my friend arrived, and we had a terrific day walking around Annapolis, (right by the Naval Academy), eating crab cakes on the water, and shopping.  In fact, I met another fantastic mom who is about as awful as me at directions, and the two of us completely winged it! That was great fun and a lot of laughs.  The weather, which I thought was going to be freezing, was sunny and gorgeous.  We had our team meeting at 10 pm, and met all the families that the boys would be playing with.  The intensity of being in Baltimore, with a group of people you don’t even know, was palpable.  And I was starting to feel grateful for this opportunity I had with my son.

They boys got to play lacrosse at a few different prep schools, which were straight out of “Dead Poet’s Society”.  There were stately brick buildings with tall white columns, sprawling fields of green grass, and founders’ statues all over the grounds.  The environment was grand. The boys went to a college lacrosse game at the John Hopkins Homewood field, and met the players after the game in the locker room.  They also got to play on the Homewood Field later that night.  As I looked around, all I kept thinking was how lucky our kids are and how incredible this experience truly was.  I have no idea if it made an impression on my son and the boys, but it certainly did on me.  He could have missed this “experience of a lifetime” because of my fear of losing control and inability to find my way around due to a poor sense of direction.  Oh and the OC dad, he was the bomb and if it weren’t for him, I’d still probably be somewhere in Baltimore looking for a freeway!  Do something that scares you.  For me, it was going to a city that I’d never been to, relinquishing all control, going with the flow, and meeting a lot of great new people.  You have no idea how resourceful you can be when you have to.  Do I want to hop on a plane next weekend and do it all again?  I might need a little time to recover, but yes, I would do it all again for the amazing memories I had with my son.

Have you done things that scare you?  Email me at www.randiccrawford@gmail.com

May 12, 2014

Do Something That Scares You- Part 1

This might sound crazy to some people, but if you are anything like me, and you have absolutely NO sense of direction, you might relate.  If you are one of those people who understand when someone is giving you directions, and they tell you to go “East” off the freeway, and you know what that means, then you definitely will not get me.  Don’t get me wrong, I know my N, S, E and West on a map, but I get lost in the execution.  It’s like I was born without a “direction” chip in my brain.  Let’s just say that On Star is my BFF and they literally know me by first name.  It’s nearly impossible for my husband, (who is great with directions), to understand my directional defect.  One time he gave me directions and left out one turn and I was literally lost for an hour (this was before On Star).

About a month ago, we got an email inviting our son to play lacrosse in Baltimore, Maryland.  Initially it was one of those emails that I was about to delete, until I read a little bit more into it and realized this was something that would be a once in a lifetime experience (except for all the other “once in a lifetime experiences” we are probably going to do in the future).  The weekend consisted of playing lacrosse against kids from the East Coast (in the lacrosse world that’s a big deal because apparently those kids are born with a stick in their hand and have some sick stick skills).  The boys would get to see a Johns Hopkins v. Maryland game at Homewood Field, tour the locker room, meet the players, check out the lacrosse HOF, play on the John Hopkins Homewood field under the lights, and have an insanely fun weekend.  How could we possibly say no?

Most of the time, lacrosse is a father/son sport, at least in my house.  I go to every home and away game in our area, but usually it’s just the two of them who travel together.  I’m just about to start booking flights, when my husband calls and tells me that I have to go with Griffin to Maryland.  Apparently, his mother had the audacity to turn 70 this year, and his family was throwing a surprise party for her, and Michael was the big surprise.  Is he kidding?  I can’t go to Baltimore.  I mean, you just heard that itinerary; we were going all over the place.  How would I get around?  I begged my husband, on my hands and knees, to take our son and then head over to the party in Connecticut on Saturday night, but that was obviously never an option.  We had already told our son that he was going, so I was basically up a creek without a paddle.  I think that I was in total denial that I was going on this lacrosse trip, until the day I left, and even then I wasn’t so sure it was actually happening.

I started emailing all my friends to see if any of them were going, and they all said no.  It was going to be my son and I with a bunch of dads that I don’t even know, hanging out in Baltimore for the weekend.  Let’s not forget about the “getting around part”.  When I tell you to “do something that scares you”, trust me, words can’t explain the fear I had thinking about the fact that I barely know how to get around San Diego in a 10 mile radius, in a place that I’ve lived for 17 years, and now I’m flying across the country and having to navigate Baltimore.  The thought of driving my son from point A to point B, and actually arriving at the right destination, on time, was daunting.   I literally lost sleep over this lacrosse trip.  But there is so much more to this story.  Until next time...

What do you think?  Was it the “experience of a lifetime” or a hot mess?   More next week!  Email me at www.randiccrawford@gmail.com