Monday, October 22, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 33

Santa Maria Sun / Humor

The following article was posted on November 8th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 36 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 36

Dawn of The Briteen

'Hell Week' has kicked Ariel and her grandson right in the tuckus


It has been a hell of a week. Our grandson, The Briteen, was trying out for soccer at his high school, participating in a week of scrimmages after school. But first, prospective candidates had to endure “Hell Week.”

This involved a fitness endurance regimen every day at 6:30 in the morning, which meant that our boy had to rise and shine no later than 5:30 to get ready and be driven to school by none other than, you guessed it, moi! So I had to rise at 5 in the morning (I never shine at that hour). That’s a.m., folks, as in “after midnight,” when it’s still too dark to legally drive with your headlights turned off.

Teenagers are incapable of waking up on their own. They need a parent with a klaxon and a lot of persistence to get them going. I once even considered investing in a cattle prod after wearing out my voice trumpeting my version of “Reveille” each morning: “Get up NOW!”

Why were we being subjected to this? I understand that the coaches were testing prospective players for stamina. These 14- to 16-year-old boys had to run a mile, twice, then run up a hill, backwards. They then ran up and down the bleachers. They did sit-ups, push-ups, and tried not to throw up.

Well, that’s nothing. You want stamina? I’ll give you stamina! It takes true grit to rise every morning at the crack of dawn and wake up a teenager. I had to climb up a hill of laundry and down again just to get into his room.

It takes real gumption to make French toast while forcing your eyes to stay open and waiting for the coffee to brew. I had to reach up in the cupboard for syrup, bend down for milk in the fridge, and soak bread in raw eggs and milk and try not to throw up. I did all this before having even one sip of coffee, and I’m a 64-year-old post-menopausal woman!

When I dropped my boy off I saw other youths arriving, all of them doing that little jog-run thing and high-fiving each other. They looked so optimistic and ready for anything. I could almost hear the soundtrack from Chariots of Fire.

When I picked The Briteen up an hour later he and the other boys looked like something the cat dragged in and the dogs wouldn’t bark at. Those same optimistic young men appeared as if they had been ridden hard and put away wet. They dragged their feet as they shuffled their way to waiting cars of driven parents who clutched cups of coffee for dear life because that was the only thing getting us all through this. I could almost hear the soundtrack from Dawn of the Dead.

All of these young chaps had to return after school for an hour of soccer scrimmages at 5 p.m. This meant picking up The Briteen at 3, going home for a snack, chores, and some homework before going back to the school which, thankfully, is close by.

To get there I have to drive down a long, steep winding hill with a deep drop-off into a ravine on one side. Not so bad under normal circumstances, but this was anything but normal. By the end of the day I didn’t know which way was uphill or down. Final pickup was at 6 p.m. and then we got to repeat it all the next day.

The coaches were looking for players who were committed. My kid is very committed, and I should be committed. But, you see, this is our job as parents. It is up to us to have our kids’ backs, as well as their fronts. My mother taught me that by example.

My younger brother, Mikey, had a paper route when he was in seventh grade. That was the year Phoenix, Arizona, experienced historically high levels of rain, so Mom got up with him at 4 a.m. to drive him to deliver papers. I asked her about it, but she doesn’t remember much—something about darkness, torrential rain, and one of the seven circles of Hell.

“Hell Week” had an interesting effect on our Briteen.

“I need a nap,” he said on Thursday night and fell exhausted into bed when he got home. He awoke 30 minutes later and ran into the living room in total confusion. The poor kid didn’t know if it was morning or night since it was now as dark at 6:30 p.m. as it is at 6:30 a.m.

“What day is it?” he squawked.

My husband, The Brit, and I had fun telling him he’d overslept.

“Why didn’t you wake me,” he cried. “I’ll miss this morning’s fitness workout!”

“You looked so peaceful, Lovey, I didn’t have the heart to disturb you,” I countered sweetly. “If you skip showering and jump into your clothes we can still make it.”

We let him run around for a few more minutes, grabbing running shoes, water, and his backpack while wolfing down a Pop-Tart before telling him it was still Thursday, he had only been asleep for 30 minutes, and dinner would be ready soon.

His blank stare was followed by some grumbling tirade about child abuse, but he was hard to understand because his mouth was so full of Pop-Tart and we were laughing hysterically and loudly. Hey, we don’t get out much. We take our entertainment when and where we can.

Speaking of Pop-Tarts, “Hell Week” also affected our lad’s calorie intake. I know teenagers require more calories, especially teen boys during this growth period of their lives, but come on! I’ve been at the grocery store so much they’re charging me rent.

“I bought lunch today at school,” he told me last evening.

“What happened to the lunch I packed for you?” I inquired.

“I ate it,” he said nonchalantly.

I’m not nourishing a teen-aged boy—I’m feeding a grizzly bear! Which brings me back to the beginning of this tale. I am writing this story at 5 in the morning. The alarm just went off. Time to poke the bear. Oh, hell.

Ariel Waterman needs her beauty sleep. Send wake-up calls and strong espresso via Managing Editor Joe Payne at

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