Thursday, December 29, 2011

Red Deck, Blue Deck

My father attended a lot of principal's conventions during his 35 years working for the school district. He learned a lot of great lessons, some of which he shared with me. This is one.

The gentleman running the seminar asked for a volunteer to help him out. A woman was chosen, and the speaker told her: "I'm the principal. You're my secretary. We're a team. As part of this team, it's important that you trust me and support me." He held up several playing cards, fanned out so that the blue backs showed clearly.

"These cards are red," he told her. "Now, will you please tell everyone what color the cards are?"

Confused, she looked at the blue cards and said to the audience, "Um, the cards are blue."

The speaker shook his head and fanned the blue cards back out in his hand. "It's very important that a secretary and principal have mutual trust and support. These cards are red. Will you please tell everyone what color the cards are?"

Hesitantly, looking at the very blue backs of the cards, she once again told the audience, "The cards are blue."

Smiling a little, the speaker shook his head again. "As your principal, it is important that you trust me and support me on this. These cards are red. Will you please tell everyone, what color are these cards?"

Obviously humoring him, the woman parroted, "The cards are red."

At that, the speaker turned the fanned cards around so that the woman, and the audience, could see that the cards were double-backed, and that the sides facing the speaker, which the woman was unable to see, were, in fact, red.

The point of this demonstration was to show that a principal, when making a decision, often has information that his secretary (and/or staff) doesn't. She needs to know and understand that, and rather than question or second-guess or undermine his decisions, he needs her to trust and support him.

My father went over this story with both of his secretaries, as well as the rest of his staff, and for the remainder of the time he worked in the school system, whenever he made a decision that looked a little strange on the outside, if his secretary started to second-guess him, he would just say "It's red deck, blue deck," and she would know that he had information he wasn't sharing with her, that made his decision reasonable.

Very often when we make decisions, we have information that others don't. For a variety of reasons--time and others' privacy being examples--we can't always share all of the information we have in explaining our decisions to others.

For example: Perhaps the principal announces that there will be inside recess on a day when the flawless weather makes this seem an odd decision. The kids are restless, the teachers are confused, everyone thinks the choice is unreasonable. The piece of information that none of them has is that the principal received a call that animal control has been called to handle a potentially rabid dog that has been seen on the playground. Sharing this information has no benefit and in fact would be wildly disruptive. So, he keeps it to himself and just announces the indoor recess. Animal control comes, takes the dog away, none of the children were put at risk, and life goes on.

This lesson works not just within the school systems, but in any boss/worker relationship, as well as parent/child, or any of a myriad of other relationship dynamics.

I know that as a parent, I don't always share with my children all of my reasons for a choice I make. I know that it is frustrating for them when they don't agree with something I decide and they think that it is arbitrary or unreasonable. What I need to be able to tell them, what they need to understand, is that I usually have a lot of information that they don't have, and that even if they don't think so, my decision makes sense.

Red deck, blue deck. mk

Friday, December 02, 2011

Basketball, Basketball, Basketball

It's my favorite and most hectic!! Kira is playing for two teams this year; her last year of Y ball, and her first year of busline! Busline has one or (usually) two games a week, plus 2-hour practices the other days. Generally busline is only Monday-Friday, but the schedule does include two Saturday games to play the island teams. First game was one of those, but at home. We have the other coming right up, and that's an away game, so everyone will be taking the ferry out to the island (brr!). The Y team gives her additional 1-hour practices on Tuesdays and Fridays, with games on Saturday mornings. So, six days a week of bball for her. So far she is handling all that beautifully, and she is in awe-inspiring physical condition (is an 11 year old supposed to have ab muscles like that??).

In addition to that, she is one of the best players on her team, a starter and the one who does the tip (at 5'4.5", she is the tallest girl on her team). I'm just blown away by her skill, on both offense and defense. At a game earlier this week against a consistently very well-coached team, she had a triple-double game....scored 16 points (of her team's total 32), and totally lost count of (utterly amazing) blocks and rebounds, along with several steals. We've known for some time that she had great potential, but it has taken until busline for her to be consistently put up against bigger and more skilled opponents, and she is rising to the challenge like a freakin' rocket. It's utterly beautiful to watch.

She has girls switching to get away from having to guard her. In two different games (they've played three so far), she was the direct reason for a time-out called by the other team's coach, to give instructions on how to (try to) handle her. Her defense is's amusing to see the girls she guards just not even try anymore to get the ball passed to them or to try to get to the hoop, but to just pass it back out. Oh, it doesn't happen with all the girls she guards, but it's happened a few times. She's not intimidated by the girls who are bigger than she is, either. One of the teams they've played had about six girls who were all WAY taller than she was, a couple of them around 6' tall (really, the team was just HUGE), and she didn't even blink but still went right after them. (This, I think, is probably because of all the times she's played against Mark, who towers over her and she couldn't care less.) She is just. plain. FIERCE.

X was telling me that he was sitting by the bus driver for the other team at a different game, and the bus driver said, 'Wow, she's really good, she'll do well at the high school next year.' When X told him Kira was only in sixth grade, the man was absolutely stunned.

(Can we tell that Mama is proud?) Hey, if I can't brag my tongue off on my own blog, where -can- I? I try to be fairly restrained with other parents and people, but DAMN the girl is good and I'm so amazed and impressed and proud.

Speaking of proud, I've got another kid to be super-proud of. Mark met his personal goal of making it onto the VARSITY team as a junior. There were three spots available on the team when you take into account the returning players (last year's freshmen and sophomores) and the juniors-turned-seniors who are guaranteed a spot on the team. (Not to be confused with 'all seniors who try out make varsity'...they actually had two seniors who tried out who have -not- been playing on the underclassman teams, and they were cut. You can't just walk in your senior year and say 'here I am, make me varsity!')

Mark is justifiably proud of this accomplishment, and I'm right along with him. I'm a little nervous that he won't get as much play time, since they do have the more experienced players for his position. There is a possibility that he could 'swing down' to play in some of the junior varsity games, they do that with the varsity underclassmen sometimes, but he's oddly not really interested, which surprised me. I would have thought he would have loved the opportunity to have the extra play time, but he really just wants to concentrate on his varsity work and being the best player for -that- team that he can be. Once I thought about it, and talked it over a bit with my dad, I can see it, and of course I'll support him on his decision, it's -his- sports career.

*grins* Some of the 'perks', so to speak, about being a varsity player: they get the biggest crowds, of course. They get the pep band playing at their games. They get warmup uniforms. They get the posters on the walls of the gym with their names and numbers on them. They get the "big picture" in the yearbook. The game programs have their height and weight (they are gathering that information at today's practice). (Freshman team just lists name and uniform number; JV lists name, uniform number, class year [Fr, Soph, Jr, Sr] and height; V-squad lists all that plus weight and I think position.) They have a specific 'entrance' routine, which is pretty impressive to watch, actually. They have the starting lineup announced. They have an -announcer-. They have tournaments and exhibition games. There is a ritual (weird, really) pre-game flat-on-the-floor huddle where they all drum their hands and yell (it's hard to describe, but yes, it -is- odd). There is a ritual where the crowd gets on their feet before the tip to applaud, and stays standing and applauding until the team scores their first basket, at which point everyone sits back down. (Basketball is -huge- at the school, can you tell?) All of these little things that add up to a -huge- difference that says: WE. ARE. VARSITY. This is what Mark has been looking forward to for his entire basketball career, and he gets two years of it. Two years of being one of the twelve top players on the top sports team in the top high school sports program in the state.

So yeah, Mama's a little proud of her boy, too.

Of course, what all this means for -me- is a LOT of time spent running around and juggling schedules. Who's at what school for what practice or game and how do I see this game and still pick up this kid or get this one to that place by what time? For example, today: Kira has busline practice from 3-5 and Y practice from 6-7, and Mark has practice from 2:30-4:15. Both just stay after school to get to their practice, which is great. (Oh, and did I mention I'm kind of the team mom for Kira's busline? So I go to all of her practices, too.) So Mark will stay at the school until Kira's practice ends at 5 and then I'll pick him up around 5:15, back home by 5:30, drop him off and Kira changes, then take off to her second practice before 5:45 and back home around 7:15, 7:30 to have dinner. Next Friday is going to be super-tricky. Next Friday is Mark's first GAME, and it starts at 7. Which is what time Kira's practice ends. I am not missing a minute of Mark's first game, including the warmups. So it's drop Kira off at practice and go to Mark's game. But how to get Kira back to the high school? Oh, and did I mention it's her birthday that day? Last year the girls who had practice on their birthdays brought cupcakes, and one had a pizza party (screw that). I don't mind doing cupcakes, but it does mean one. more. thing.

Oh, and did I mention that Mark's practice times change? Last night it was from 7:15 (which means he has to be there before 7) to 8:45. His coach said at the meeting the other night that they -hope- to have a season-long practice schedule out by next week, but right now they only know the rest of this week.

There is one (ONE!) date during the season in which there is not a conflict between a game for one and practice for the other (Mark has a home game and Kira has no practices that day). There is one date where they both have a game...and both are away games. (This doesn't include busline playoffs, where every one of those dates Mark has a game scheduled also)

So. LOVE LOVE LOVE basketball season, this year is going to be especially wonderful to watch...but it's also a personal scheduling hell.

Let's get ready to rock n roll. mk