I totally faked out a bunch of other dads today.
At my daughter’s softball practice, I put on a glove, walked out onto the field, and played catch with her.
These other guys—and a couple of moms—had no idea I’ve never played a team sport in my life. Likely only one or two of them noticed that I had to borrow the glove, since I don’t own one myself.
But there I was, the 1997 star of my high school production of The Music Man, the guy who opted to take ballet instead of P.E., the son who read one of the Chronicles of Narnia books through a Lakers game he attended with his parents, and I was totally throwing a ball around with my kid.
I’ve tossed a ball back and forth with her lots of times, sure, but that was just playing around. During this practice, I Iooked like I knew what I was doing. Roughly. I even caught the ball with my opposite bare hand when my firstborn’s enthusiastic throws went wildly askew—a move that impressed her to no end.
I must admit that I paid close attention to her coach when he came around to explain how to stand. “Elbow up!” he said. “Keep this hand high, and turn your hand so the ball’s facing this way! Make sure you look like the Statue of Liberty!”
I kept my elbow up. “Give me your tired, your poor … ,” I thought to myself as I prepped to lob another ball my daughter’s way. When I felt someone looking directly at me, I rolled her some grounders.
I was a confident kid, but my firstborn has way more personal confidence than I do now. She jumped into softball with an enviable enthusiasm, not caring that she’d never so much as touched a real bat before her assessment day.
She’s recently been talking to my wife about the future, probing for information about what she can be when she progresses beyond elementary school and gets closer to adulthood. She wants to know how laws are made. After quizzing my wife on various rules and realities, my daughter has decided—completely on her own—that she wants to be a child model to earn a lot of money until she’s old enough to go to law school. Then she’ll use her earnings to get a law degree so she can practice as a lawyer. But that’s only until she turns 35, at which point she’ll run for president.
I know a lot of kids say they aspire to be the leader of the free world. I don’t know too many who map out their steps to getting there from first grade.
Maybe someday she will. Maybe someday she will help the homeless, the tempest-tossed. Maybe someday she will lead this country watched over by the woman who lifts her lamp beside the golden door.
If I can venture into the world of athletics for the first time in my 35 years, for her sake, anything is possible.