The Family (Or most of them)

The Family (Or most of them)
The Family

February 5, 2008

Baseball...and my son's average

The baseball bat above, which is laying on my bed tonight, has an inscription on the back.
It says, "Thank you. The '99 Waverley Warriors."
This was a bat given to me by the girls' baseball team I coached that year. My daughter, now 19, was on that team and was only 10 or so at the time.
It was given to me at a season windup barbecue, and it is special to me, so I keep it.
My son? I tried desperately to get him into sports. He just isn't athletic, as I always was as a kid, and he never really liked hockey, baseball, tae kwon do, or any of the other sports I tried to get him into.
So after a while, I stopped trying to make him be like me. I stopped the lectures about how sports made me so much of what I am today.
Not that I'm super athletic today at my age. But as a young boy and as a teenager and as a young man, sport gave me power. It made me nimble, fast, aggressive, strong. It gave me confidence.
Sport gave me power and desire to do better. Hockey, baseball, football, basketball, volleyball, Blackjack.
You name it.
Sports gave me a sense of competitiveness. I could compete. I could hit people, which I loved doing. Knocking people down, legally (most of the time). I could score. And I was a demon on defence.
I wasn't a star, but I was an important part of whatever team I played on.
My body was a finely-tuned machine that gave me a feeling of invulnerability, one that allowed me to do incredible things.
I loved skipping across rocks at the lake and not falling once because my agility allowed me to do that.
I wanted my son to have that same sense of confidence and power in his body and mind, which I've carried through my life. But no. Physicality is just not his thing. Athletics and sports just aren't what he's into.
I had great disappointment at one time. Not because I wished he would be a clone of me, but just because I think sports have given me so much in my life and helped define, to a large extent, who I am.
I can remember, after more or less forcing him to play baseball at age 7 or so, how he was out of his league in a baseball game. I was coaching his team too. But I needed to challenge him. My thing was all kids play all positions.
Everybody plays the same amount, star or not. Everybody has the same challenge, more or less and within reason, and everybody is an equal part of the team.
At that age, the coaches are out on the field of play trying to teach the kids where to stand, etc.
He was looking at me as the biggest kid on the opposing team came up to bat. The kid hit a line drive to third base...and hit my Evan right in the side of the head as he was looking at me, wondering where he should stand.
I almost died right then and there.
I wanted to just love him and be his dad and hold him as he cried and make sure he was OK. But I was also his coach. I had to be both at the same time.
I felt like I had to protect him from embarrassment but also not embarrass him.
We got through it, past it.
But he never played baseball again. I so wish he had, but he didn't. He's just not into sports.
Fast-forward to now.
He's 16. He's having a hard time in school, so that's a big focus. He's a lovely kid with a huge heart and hormones. He has a girlfriend seven hours away, everything is electronic, there are no sports in his life. For him, it's magic.
But for whatever reason, he has attached himself to that baseball bat.
Every time he's over here by himself, in between a spare at high school or just because he wants to raid my fridge, I see the bat has been picked up, by him, and played with or held or whatever.
The picture above is an indication of where he left it today -- on my bed -- which is where my computer is, in my bedroom. He's a product of the electronic age, but for whatever reason, he latches on to this bat.
And he leaves it lying around wherever he goes, so I have to keep returning it to where I usually leave it. But I always leave it where he can see it and touch it or do whatever he needs with it, if he wants to.
And he always seems to want to just hold it or whatever.
I don't get that, really. But somehow, I like it.

22 comments:

  1. I'm speechless. You amaze me.

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  2. You made me cry.

    I guess he knows the bat is important to you, and that's probably one reason he likes it. Touching it probably makes him feel closer to you and kind of secure. Also, 16 year old guys love playing with anything that could possibly be considered phallic.

    I sympathise with him. Not the phallic thing, but the non-sportyness and having a hard time. School is tough when you're not athletic - and I should know. I might look slim, but that's a genetic accident. I'm not fit or sporty at all. I remember only too well what school can be like and how cruel other kids can be. I still harbour muderous desires towards a couple of people! But he'll get through it - he's got a loving and understanding father, and that's a big thing. My parents tried to forbid me any contact with my e-boyfriend, and that was the worst thing they could have done because it just fired up the rebellious spirit! If your boy has found somebody he can connect with, and who makes his life a little better, good for him - no matter where she is, or the nature of the relationship.

    From what you say about him, he reminds me a bit of Aidan's cousin Steven, who's also 16. Or 15. He's a good kid, and he'll grow into a wonderful man. I think I can safely say the same of your son.

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  3. Goodness, words escape me as I nip on here before the school run with 8 nippers this morning......

    Not much ever makes me speachless, but this has....

    I'll be back to make the tears flow a little later and maybe comment proper.....

    x

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  4. ps...... nice quilt :) - of course you handmade it yaself lol

    Still cant leave a proper comment, choked up here......

    x

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  5. Never mind the baseball bat, where did you get that bedspread?

    It's time for a photographic tour of your bedroom.

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  6. I have a 15 year old son who is also struggling in school, among other things. These boys need our love, understanding, and sensitivity.
    What a poignant, expressive description you give of the beauty of that kind of unspoken communication and connection.

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  7. Amazing post, WW. Isn't it humbling how much being parents teaches us about ourselves? And maybe your son is just a late bloomer. Many people become athletes as adults nowadays.

    It's hard to be a non-athlete in a world and/or family where it's such a focus. But on the other hand, I would've liked to have been born into a family where it *was* a focus. I had the physical goods, I just needed to learn the confidence and discipline, both in short supply. It reminds me that being an exceptional athlete is probably more about what's going on between the ears than what the body can do.

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  8. Anna:

    Aww...garsh...t-y.

    It's amazing what memories one little bat can conjure up from the past. I've been thinking a lot about him lately.

    Sometimes I want to hit him over the head with that bat, or the broom that he also sometimes plays with...

    Stace:

    I think you might be right on all three of your premises -- particularly the last one!!!

    That was one of my wonders with him: how can he NOT like sports? He liked wrestling with me all the time, but sports...uh-uh.

    But that's me wanting to program him to be just like me, a bit, and just not being able to get that just because I loved sports, that he must.

    I think he'll bloom into a good man too, Stace. Thanks.

    Toasty:

    Of course I made the quilt myself (I think it was $69.95 or something at WalMart).

    Hey, you made my keyboard wet!

    MJ:

    See above for the answer to your question. And it comes with matching duvet covers and bed sheets, doncha know.

    I think I need a change, however. What's in vogue now?

    A bedroom tour: hmmmm...OK, cmon over!!! Oh, you said a photographic tour.

    I'll consult my agent.

    Annie:

    Thank you. I agree, that's what all sons -- and daughters -- need. It's all anyone needs.

    Andrea:

    I think he is a late bloomer. This past summer he got me off my butt to go out and play catch. He quite enjoyed it.

    Me, I sprained my finger when he threw the football at me too hard from close range.

    My daughter wasn't ever really athletic either, but she had more interest. Neither, it appears, inherited my sports gene. Their mom wasn't athletic either.

    Sigh.

    So if you had been an athlete, what would you have been?

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  9. You are a good dad and your son is so lucky. So many do not have that growing up.

    Maybe the baseball is his deep connection with you. A reminder of what you wanted but he didn't and yet he could have through you even if it was not his style.

    You're wonderful!

    Soft love,
    T

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  10. Great post!
    More than anything we want our kids to succeed and not repeat our mistakes. The hardest thing is to watch them make their own.

    The greatest thing that I hope to instill is self esteem and a sense of humour. I realise that they will follow their own path and any advice that I can give them from my own experiences will hopefully resonate and allow them to sidestep most of the obvious pitfalls of sharing the planet with other people.

    All of my children are far more physically gifted than I ever was so my mandate is to ensure that I don't hold them back from trying things that I was too timid to try.

    You just earned a nomination for a Favorite Parenting Blog Award...
    let me see if the nominations are open yet.

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  11. I'm with MJ...give us the virtual tour. I want to see the magic kingdom.

    And as always...fabulous post.

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  12. "Magic Kingdom," Awa?

    Well I suppose that's where we'd find his tricks.

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  13. lol im not saying anything!

    soft love,
    T

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  14. Ok, Ive been back and back and Im so very moved by this post.... me finks you are one special dad....

    *sniff

    x

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  15. Inside, Outside:

    Thank you.

    Maybe you're right, I don't know. I need to think about that. Maybe I'll ask him!

    Hugs...

    Oh No Escapeons:

    You are the best dad I've ever seen, bar-none. Your kids will get your wacko sense of humour by osmosis.

    And your sense of the larger world, a critical view of what's really happening, a questioning mind...

    Still, I think you're a moron.

    Awa (MJ):

    Sorry, the tour has been cancelled (I don't think I approved it in the first place!)

    I haven't vacuumed for months. There's dust bunnies all over the place and I need new bedding. It would be far too embarrassing.

    Oh...and another soul now occupies the room. So my tricks will now stay behind closed doors.

    Inside, Outside:

    :-)

    Toasty:

    Thanks. All I can do is try.

    And for what it's worth, I think you're one very special mom to those 4 yahoos of yours that you play tricks on all the time (and who play tricks on you).

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  16. Uh-oh -- you got me thinking!

    I played years of field hockey and got pretty good, top "assister" on a championship team that went all the way, so I guess I was an athelete, especially since I was one of those three or four girls in the whole school who got Excellence on the Canada Fitness Tests, but I think racquet sports (I started playing squash at university and loved it) for my physical abilities and individual sports for the way my brain works would've been better choices. I loved running but am far too tall to ever be a really good long-distance runner. I'm thinking of getting properly kitted out for some serious cycling this year since I seem unable to run any more without injuring myself. We all have an Olympic dream, though, and mine was always the equestrian sports, particularly show jumping. It was the one sport where my passion was the equal of my ability but I simply never had the moolah to take it anywhere. Huge regrets there. I might've done better to not take on all that student loan debt by going to university and mucked out stalls to get rides instead!

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  17. Andrea:

    What do you mean, went all the way? To the national championship in field hockey?

    I covered field hockey at the 1999 Pan Am Games here. Everyone knows B.C. is Canada's field hockey hotbed.

    I'd imagine with your height and your lithe form, you WOULD be a good athlete, or at least certainly had the makeup for it.

    Cycling, huh? I bet you'd be good. Too bad about equestrian, but then you would have had to wear those silly hats.

    (I also covered Big Ben at the '92 Olympics in Barcelona. Now THAT was cool. Patted him and everything).

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  18. Anonymous2:42 PM

    Lovely post!! You are such a sweet,and thoughtful dad.
    I love the John Mayer too!

    Btw-Whose the other person occupying your room???!! Did I miss something?! lol!

    Laura

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  19. Have a good weekend too!

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  20. Laura:

    The other person is a beautiful person. But that situation has now changed. Alone Again, Naturally.

    You have a good weekend too.

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  21. Wow! You got to hang out with Big Ben. The only thing better for me would be Secretariat. As for the field hockey -- no it was just to regional championship level for junior girls. It didn't go higher than that -- in the mid/late '70s anyway. Woulda been fun, though!

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  22. Andrea:

    Yeah, Big Ben and I had quite a nice chat while we had lunch out on the pasture. He was a bit of a dry quote, though.

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