Tag Archives: softball

Rough in the Diamond

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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.

Classic, right?

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.

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Birthday Week: Kicking Worry

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As I noted over the weekend, my daughters each started an activity recently: softball for the 6-year-old and ballet for the 4-year-old. My wife and I committed the family to months of weekly or multi-weekly activities. The girls loved the first days of their respective pursuits and went to bed happy. My wife and I celebrated by watching the Bronies documentary streaming on Netflix that night. It made us both get all teary eyed.

Last week ended well, but this week didn’t start off so great. My 4-year-old woke me at 4:45 a.m. on Sunday asking for water, then more water, then some food. She had refused to eat dinner the night before, so I guessed she was fairly hungry. I made her a bowl of cereal and toast. At about 6 a.m., she started throwing up, an activity that—unlike ballet—continued for another 14 or 15 hours.

On Monday, I wasn’t feeling great—nobody in the family was, except for our first grader—so everyone (but the first grader) stayed home. And though she was keeping down food at that point, my secondborn then declared, sobbing, that her throat hurt. Of course, throwing up for an entire day will make anyone’s throat raw, but I immediately began worrying about antibiotic-resistant strep throat, since she had strep a month earlier.

Before you judge me, know that I’m about to fly soon—I’m heading to New Orleans for the Dad 2.0 Summit later this week—and I’m a terrified flyer in the best of times. Louisiana is currently in the grip of what meteorologists are calling a “once-in-a-generation winter storm.”

Tie all that up with a particularly stressful season at work and you’ll get an idea of why my mind is racing many miles a minute.

I’ve written about dread before in the Shallows, and that’s what really gets me: Dread that something bad will happen on (or to) my flight. Dread that my kid will get really sick. Dread that the flight will be fine, but my kid will be seriously sick while I’m far away.

My trip is coinciding with my 35th birthday. Here’s to hoping that 35 marks a year of less worry—less to worry about and less energy given to worry from my end. On that note, I’ll be writing Worry Wednesday posts only occasionally. I’ll still write on Wednesdays, but I don’t want to give all of them over to what’s eating away at me. I still want to leave that door open, though, since there’s something therapeutic about pouring it all out.

Sometimes.

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Awkward Week: Up to Bat

I have little to no athletic ability. Sure, I can sink wadded up balls of paper into across-the-office trash cans—typically when no one’s looking—and I play a pretty mean game of table tennis, but I’ve never played team sports or anything. Not really.

My wife swam in high school, but she isn’t what anyone would call athletic either.

As our firstborn has demonstrated both talent and interest in sports, we figured it would be a good idea to get her into something official, hence our first-ever foray onto a softball diamond this afternoon. Actually, my mom played softball for years, but I usually spent her games looking for bottlecaps.

I’m not a sports guy, if you couldn’t tell.

I’ve tossed a ball around with my 6-year-old from time to time, so she at least understands the concept of throwing and catching, but as I walked her toward the sign-in tables and paired-off lines of girls lobbing (overhand!) pitches into each others’ mitts, I realized that I should’ve talked to her a little more about the game.

“Do you know what you do after you hit the ball?” I asked her, pointing to home plate as we passed. “In a game, after you hit it?”

She thought for a moment, then: “Throw it back?”

“You run,” I said. “Run to first base.”

I got a blank look in return.

Fortunately, based on my observations from this morning, she’s a quick study and will likely trick everyone into thinking her parents know at least a little bit about softball. I mean, she’s not perfect right off the bat or anything, but she’s confident and has good hustle and is coordinated enough to actually connect a bat with a ball, or later throw that same ball in the direction she intends it to go.

I’m excited and nervous about this new phase in parenting, in life. I don’t know the team sports environment, either from personal experience or as the parent of a participant since this is so new.

We also chose today to start dance lessons for our 4-year-old, so we felt like cliche parents today for the first time: loading three kids into the minivan and shuttling everyone from home to rehearsal to home to practice to home.

So it begins.

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Outside Week: The Sun

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I don’t get outside as much as I should. I don’t take the kids out as much as they should get out, either.

I see photos of other parents taking their children out for bike rides or hikes and wonder, Where do they get the time? And, more importantly, Where do they get the energy?

Part of the problem is that my wife and I start the bedtime routine at 6:30—a time requested by my exhausted firstborn when she began kindergarten. By the time I get home from work and we all eat dinner, there’s not many minutes left for a trip anywhere.

Sure, I suppose we could take a walk around the block. And as I type this, I’m wondering why we don’t. And as I type that, I’m remembering that a simple stroll through our complex is anything but, since one kid will start complaining that she’s tired and wants to be carried, which will prompt the other to want to be carried—both by the same parent, both on the shoulders. Since that’s physically impossible, it becomes a fight.

In preparation for a jog-a-thon at my firstborn’s school earlier this year, she suggested training by running laps around our complex in the mornings. We tried it, and the first attempt started strong with a burst of enthusiastic speed, followed by a dawdling hunt for sticks and leaves that resembled letters so she could spell her name out of items from nature.

It’s not like we’re cave dwellers. We do take walks, and by “we” I mean “my wife and kids while I’m at work.” We aim to get out and about on the weekends: to local parks, usually. When it’s warmer, we swim at the pool or play games in the spa. And we just signed up my firstborn for softball and my secondborn for ballet, so there’s activity right there.

I don’t really have any good excuses for not getting out more, though. I mean, I do have excuses, but they’re not good ones. And I certainly don’t want to be mumbling something about tight schedules while my pasty children shield their eyes and hiss toward the sky, “The yellow face! It burns us!”

How do you incorporate the outdoors into your (presumably) busy life?

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