juggling_stuffI can’t juggle. I don’t mean piano lessons, day-care hours, work commitments and soccer games (though I can’t juggle those either). I mean I can’t juggle balls.

Now normally this inability is not considered a grave personal liability, but… everyone else in my family juggles. A stream of disreputable young men walk in and out of my house all day, and night, bearing an assortment of balls, clubs, rings, and copies of Plhorph! (Plhorph! is a publication, indigenous to Foxboro, that is created and distributed by teenagers, and is slightly less comprehensible than Zippy.) They are coming to play with my husband. When I enter the room, all conversation stops. They look silently at each other, and shake their heads. “She can’t… you know” they whisper.

My husband has always had this habit. In fact, when I was first dating him, I actually tried to learn to juggle in the hopes of impressing him. Soon, however, I realized he was sufficiently impressed with some of my other attributes, and happily abandoned the project.

I never gave it another thought until just recently. When this juggling thing first started, it was just my oldest son and a few of his friends out on the porch doing their thing. Then my youngest started. I said, “Its just a guy thing. Then, my daughter joined them. I had had faith that she would stay aloof, and spend her time debating serious matters such as what color to dye her hair this week, or what to name her first 10 children. I could bear it no longer when my son’s girlfriend started. She would ask me, conversationally, sweetly, how MY juggling practice was going, and tell me SHE was getting better.

So, as a New Years Resolution I decided to devote 10 minutes per day to practicing juggling. I would not resolve to actually learn to juggle, just to practice. It would be good exercise I told myself. And that proved to be true. Thud.., thud…, bend, thud…, thud…, bend, thud…, thud…, crash! It is VERY good exercise.

The big advantage I have is that the rest of my family knows how to juggle. As a consequence, they are all eager to study my form, and make a multitude of helpful suggestions. Let me digress here.

The day I realized I was truly married occurred on a golf course. My husband and I had a rare day off from the children, and went golfing with my mother and stepfather. I was not much interested in golf, since I figured that it would be 20 years before another such opportunity arose, but I anticipated freedom from responsibility, the sun, and adult conversation. However, soon after I arrived I discovered that my mother saw the day as an unique opportunity to once again try to improve my life, starting with my golf game.

Each time, I stepped up to the tee, she stopped me.

“No,no, your stance is all wrong. Here, position your shoulders like this, hold the club like this, and start from this angle. Now practice the swing a couple of times. No, try it again. Keep your shoulders straight. Your hands should look like this. ”

After two or three holes, my husband, who by this time in our marriage had learned to stay alert to my emotional state, intervened, and declared that he would teach me. This only worked for a short time before my mother caught on and took over again. At that point my husband tried once again to take over “teaching”, and …became the lightning rod for my wrath, as I had a minnie temper tantrum on the golf course, directed, of course, at my husband rather than my mother.

I later explained to my husband what an honor it was, that he had replaced my mother as the person I felt safest with. That I could vent to him! But he didn’t seem to understand.

This was several years ago, and I have matured since then. Now, I react with gratitude toward my families frequent juggling tips. I’m sure they will tell you this if you only ask.

My primary technique for dealing with this is hiding. I wait until no one is around, or try to find and empty room, and then do it – hoping no one will hear the thud, thud, thud, as balls repeatedly drop to the floor. (Do you know how STUPID you feel after spending weeks and weeks trying to catch balls and failing, probably hundreds of time? Never mind.) Of course, this doesn’t work. Children have a remarkable homing device for finding parents that are hiding.

So, they give me advice in a heartfelt effort to help me, and I react badly. My children seem to take this in stride, and I suspect they feel a certain pleasure at seeing me both incompetent and defensive about it. However, my husband, who clearly should know better, feels hurt. I should show him some gratitude, I know this, truly…doggone, he can juggle four balls!!

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