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Posts Tagged ‘Father Son Bonding’

Finding Solace on the Diamond

In Family, Life, Life Lessons, Sports on October 21, 2013 at 3:36 pm

Z 1st HR

Some of my fondest childhood memories occurred between the chalk lines of the baseball diamond.  For many years I have shared these memories with my son.  Deep down, I always hoped that he would feel the same way about the game that defined my childhood.  To this day, no matter what the situation, I still seem to find solace on the diamond.

For the first time ever, my son played fall baseball this year.  It was the first football season that he has missed since he was five years old (see “Saying Goodbye to Pee Wee Football”).  The transition out of football had its challenging moments, but ultimately, he embraced the change and made the best of things.

The last game of his season was supposed to be played on the day that my mom passed away (see “Dear Mom…”).  Needless to say, my son never made it to the game as we spent that day shopping for clothes for my mom’s funeral.  It was a heartbreaking moment as we drove past the field on the way home from the mall, and we saw all of his teammates warming up for the game.  Thankfully, the league added another game as a bonus, so my son got one more chance to take the field on the day that he returned to school.

My expectations for the last game were virtually non-existent.  Under the circumstances, I just wanted him to get through the game the best that he could.  After sharing what my son had been through with the league director, he was slotted as the leadoff hitter for the home team.  He stepped up to the plate in the first inning with the baseball bat that my mom gave for his last birthday, wearing the batting helmet and batting gloves that were also part of the gift.  Always fearful of what could happen on the football field, my mom was overjoyed to buy him everything that he needed for baseball (her favorite sport).

He swung hard, but missed the first pitch.  The second pitch was a ball.  At that moment, I just hoped that he would be able to focus enough to put the ball into play.  The last thing that he needed in his fragile state of mind was a strikeout.  He drove the next pitch into the gap between the left and center fielders.  From the bleachers, I yelled to go for two.  When I saw how far out the ball was in the outfield, I yelled again for him to go all the way.  The look on his face as he touched home plate for his first homerun ever is something that I will never forget.  I ran to the dugout to give him a hug, congratulate him and tell him that he made Mimi very proud.  He followed up his homerun with two hard-hit singles, the best day of hitting that he has experienced thus far.

For those few hours, my mind was focused on how proud I was of my son, and it temporarily eased the pain and sense of loss that I was feeling about my mom.

Over the weekend, the two of us spent a few hours together on the baseball field.  He took his usual batting practice, and then pitched to me from behind a protective screen.  As much as he enjoyed hitting, he seemed to take more pleasure in watching me drive the ball deep into the outfield.  It was fun to relive my glory days, but more importantly, my son and I got a much needed respite from the overwhelming sadness that we’ve been feeling.

He has been trying to put on a brave face since my mom’s passing, but this morning, he finally confided in me that he was hurting badly.  He can’t understand why his life has changed so drastically in such a short amount of time, how we went from a planned birthday celebration for my mom to a funeral in a matter of days.  He so badly wants to tell Mimi about the homerun that he finally hit.  I do too.  We can only hope that she was watching with my dad.

The cold winter weather will arrive sooner than we would like, but until then, I plan on spending as much time as possible playing baseball with my son, and finding solace on the diamond.

 

 

 

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Sharing the Moments

In Family, Pursuit of Happiness on June 19, 2010 at 9:12 pm

Time seems to fly by more quickly when you’re busy.  Lately, there doesn’t seem to be enough hours in the day, days in the week, or weeks in the month to get everything done.  This is part of the reason why it has been several weeks since my last posting.  The other reason is that my days have been fairly repetitive, leaving less to work with in the way of inspiration.  A small part may also be due to some burnout on my part.  Whatever the case, my plan is to start posting with more regularity again.

While I have been particularly busy with one of my projects, I have also been spending more time with my family since the school year ended.  During this time I’ve noticed that the bond that I have with my son has been taken to a whole new level.  He and I have always been very close for a number of reasons, not the least of which is sports.  It has always been a big part of our bond since he was old enough to pick up a ball and attend live sporting events.  However, his attention span for sports on TV wasn’t always very long (other than football, which is his favorite), so I basically watched everything else by myself…until recently.

As my wife and daughter slept, my son and I would stay up and watch the Stanley Cup and the NBA Finals.  We couldn’t have picked a better year to start doing so.  The storylines and the games were better than any that I can remember in recent years.  The resiliency shown by teams that were basically written off by sports reporters and fans was an excellent lesson for me to teach my son while we were enjoying the games.  But even if there was no lesson to be learned, I still looked forward to each game because it is a great bonding experience.  Truth be told, I’ve been looking forward to this moment ever since the doctor uttered the words…“It’s a boy!”

Sharing these moments with my son is something that means more to me than any words can ever describe.  It is especially meaningful to me in light of the fact that our move from New York to Texas last summer had my son very distraught.  Even though the move was meant to make his life better, I still had tremendous guilt feelings for uprooting him and taking him away from the only place that he has ever called “home.” Thankfully, he adjusted to the move even better than I could have hoped for.  His grades in school for the year were in a stratosphere that I never even came close to (finishing the year with a 97, 98, 99 and 100) in the four major subjects.

The grades made me proud, but my greatest satisfaction comes from the fact that he continued to be a “model student.” His teacher told us that her job would be a dream if she had a room full of kids just like him.  But perhaps the most gratifying aspect of the move is the fact that my son has made a lot of friends in his short time here (as evidenced by the amount of kids that he had at his birthday party today).  Even the ones that couldn’t make it because of scheduling conflicts were disappointed that they couldn’t attend.

As I watched my son with all of his friends today, it gave me great pleasure to see him thriving beyond the classroom.  Even though he spent most of the time with his friends, I still felt like we were sharing a special moment together.  When we came home, we played some games and then went to the pool.  Our time in the pool has been another great chance to bond.  It doesn’t matter whether we are swimming or playing water football or just hanging out and talking.  It’s always a good time!

Sometimes it can be difficult to see how fast the kids are growing up.  I think that most parents want to freeze time to some degree to make these moments last longer.  I am certainly no exception to this way of thinking.  But at least I can take solace in the fact that, as the days pass by, the bond between my son and me only continues to grow stronger with every shared moment.

It Was a Good Day

In Family, Inspiration and Motivation, Life Lessons, Pursuit of Happiness on February 7, 2010 at 10:44 am

The skies were gray and a chill was in the air as I awoke yesterday morning.  It was the kind of day that makes you want to just stay in bed and relax.  Most Saturday mornings, there isn’t much to be done, but yesterday was not one of them.  My son had to get to his creative writing competition (he was one of three finalists representing his school).  Once the competition ended, it was time for the long-awaited grass drills for the upcoming spring football season, where the coaches evaluate each kid before the draft.

As we arrived at the writing competition, my son seemed a little nervous and withdrawn.  We made our way through the throngs of people to his school’s table where he met up with one of his friends.  The two boys made up games with balled-up candy wrappers and empty drink bottles, and suddenly, my son no longer seemed nervous.  When they called his group, he gave me a big hug and said goodbye.  I wished him luck and told him that I loved him and that I was proud of him.  I also told him to just have fun like he did in class, and not to focus on the competition.

When he finally returned, I asked him how he did.  He told me that he did ok, but that he was nervous while writing.  I told him once again that I was proud of him for making it to the finals, regardless of the outcome.  Since the competition ran long, we had very little time to get home and get him ready for his football grass drills.

We got to the football field just in time, and got him weighed and measured.  I was surprised to see how much he had grown in such a short amount of time.  I suppose that it’s always hard to tell when you see someone every day.  He joined the group of kids and waited for his turn to be tested.  Although he hadn’t participated in these evaluations before, he didn’t seem nervous at all.  I would imagine that this was because he has already played three seasons of football, and knew that there was nothing that they could throw at him that he couldn’t handle.

As he took the field, I saw a sense of confidence in him that I don’t think I ever saw before on the football field.  He ran hard in his 30-yard dash, and finished with a faster time than I expected.  When it came time to run the course in and out of cones, I was a bit nervous for him, because I knew that he sometimes would get confused by this in practice.  I was happy to see him run it with no mistakes.  He was one of the only kids that caught the ball at the end of the course, and he finished by tackling the blocking dummy with perfect form.

The drills were much more limited than we expected.  My son was actually disappointed that he didn’t get to do more.  I told him that I was proud of the way that he ran his drills, and that I was sure that he would be drafted fairly high for his position (based on his performance and the level of competition). He confided in me afterwards that he was concerned that he would make a mistake during the last drill, but he was happy with himself that he figured it out and performed well.

Feeling a little disappointed that the football drills were so short, my son asked if the two of us could go to a field and play for a while.  I told him that we could after going home first to spend some time with my wife and daughter.  When we walked in the door, my little one was so happy to see us.  She wanted to know if her big brother won his game.  We told her that it was just practice, but I don’t think that she understood (or cared to understand for that matter).

My daughter was running around in her “big- girl” underwear when we got home – a welcome sight, but one that gives me cause for concern around the furniture.  Before yesterday, she had gone on the potty a few times, but only with a bit of coercion.  All of a sudden, things just clicked yesterday.  She told us that she had to go, ran to the potty and did it on her own.  We were all very proud.  I think that she liked the attention, and proceeded to do it two more times later in the day.  She’s not there yet, but at least we now see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Shortly after the first potty success, the call came letting us know that my son didn’t place in the competition, but that he would be getting a participation ribbon.  A little dejected at first, he quickly got over it as I grabbed the football and told him that it was time for us to go play.  We walked to the field so that I could get in my daily exercise, all the while joking and throwing the football around.

It surprised me to see how well he was throwing and catching the regulation-size ball (something that he had struggled with in the past).  We played for a long time, calling plays and having fun with just the two of us.  It was the kind of day that I think he may remember for a long time to come.  It reminded me of the days with my dad.

By the time that we arrived back home, it had been a very full day.  We were both exhausted.  I intended to write about it yesterday, but I was too tired.  When I woke up this morning I realized something.  In the midst of all of the progress that I was seeing in my kids, I basically avoided Facebook and my blog for an entire day.  I didn’t even bring my phone with me to go and play football.  While it left me feeling a little disconnected, I have to say that it was also kind of liberating.  It allowed me to be in the moment entirely (which is something that I think is tough to do in today’s connected world).

It was a good day yesterday for a number of reasons.  Ironically, on my “disconnected” day, I connected with my son on a much deeper level.  I saw his progress, and recognized how fast he is growing up.  It made me realize that times like these don’t last forever, and I need to take advantage of them now!

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