It happened again. I got in trouble at my son's basketball game.
No, I didn't trash-talk the other team, criticize the coach or bring my kid late. But I did get distracted for a minute - maybe I was chatting with another mom, or looking for something in my bag - and I ended up missing something important.
"What happened?" I asked my husband after hearing a cheer go up.
Sometimes he tries to explain it to me, but most times he just shakes his head and says something like, "Watch the game, will ya?"
Not that paying attention necessarily helps me. There are moms like me at Little League games, soccer matches and basketball tournaments all over America, and I'm here to explain how we got that way.
Remember how Sarah Palin said she was "a Title IX girl"? Well, I'm a pre-Title IX girl. I played jump rope, but I didn't play ball. It didn't help that our family lived in an apartment in New York City (no back yard) and that I went to an all-girl high school (no teams).
I also had no brothers, just one sister, and my dad was 50 when I was born. That may not sound old, but by the time I was 10 and he was 60, nobody expected him to throw a ball around with his daughter. He took me to a baseball game once a year, and he watched football at home sometimes, but I never watched games with him.
Like learning a second language, learning sports is best done when you are young. Now, no matter how hard I try, I just can't seem to follow what's going on - even when my own son is playing.
"Did you see what your son just did?" my husband will often demand during a game. "You weren't paying attention, were you? Your son scored the winning goal" - or shot, or hit, or run, or pitch, or whatever they call it in whatever sport was being played - "and as usual, you missed it."
I'm so pathetic, most of the time I can't even tell which team is winning, or whether we are "Home" or "Guest." I'll try to fake it by saying things like, "So, how are we doing? Are we still - I mean, is the score, uh, still, you know, two to ... uh, what is it now? I missed that last play when I had a sneezing fit. Maybe I'm allergic to something in the gym!"
But the score is never two to anything; it is always some improbable set of numbers that I couldn't begin to guess, like fifteen to nothing, or tied six-six.
I've tried to learn. But after my husband has explained what a shortstop is twenty times, he doesn't want to say it again. Double-plays? Three-point shots? I'm clueless.
The other night, as my son was watching TV, I asked if it bothered him that I don't really understand what's going on in most of his games. He assured me that he doesn't care.
Then he went back to watching the game.
Just don't ask me which game. Because I definitely wasn't paying attention.
Beth Harpaz is the travel editor for the Associated Press and the author of 13 is the New 18 … and Other Things My Children Taught Me While I was having a Nervous Breakdown Being Their Mother (Crown, 2009). She lives in Brooklyn, NY with her husband and two children.