They might practice wrestling moves on each other daily and they might annoy the ever living hell out of each other on a regular basis, but there is one thing you can’t deny… they are each other’s biggest fan!
Ollie’s first real game turned out to be a heated battle of four year olds fighting for the title of least amount of children left on the field at the end of the game. Four innings of T-ball on an early Saturday morning might be torture for some, but not for these two tag team partners.
Just when you thought things were going to go to hell… the team was losing interest. The players were losing their minds and there were no more dandelions to be picked… then out of no where here comes Jackson to coach first base.
It was like the clouds cleared, the Red Sea had parted… his arrival was a miracle. It had a direct impact on the outcome of the game and dare I say it may have changed the landscape of T-Ball forever (Sandlot reference).
Jax was just the spark that Ollie’s team needed. Oliver was completely inspired and began the “Rally Heard ‘Round the World.” We came back from a large deficit… I’m actually not sure if that’s actually true. I don’t think we keep score and T-ball. But for the sake of the story we were down quite a few runs I needed someone to come up with a big hit. Oliver was just that guy.
…and the rest is history, to be told for years to come. There’s even a rumor that Oliver‘s hat that and Jackson’s autograph on the scorecard are displayed probably in the Hall of Fame…
I’m not sure how many times I can write about how important baseball is to me and the fabric of my family. Go back and read things that I’ve written about my grandfather. We shared so many amazing experiences through baseball and those amazing experiences don’t lessen at all even as time goes by. In fact the feeling of extreme happiness and family connection is only heightened as each my sons experience the same firsts as I did so many years ago through “America’s Past Time.”
This time it was Oliver’s turn to don his first jersey and baseball cap, to slip on a pair of cleats and take a few hacks in the batter’s box. The smile on his little face when he was handed his first jersey, pulled on his hat and walked out onto the field was indescribable. He might as well been in heaven (not Iowa).
I watched this tiny little baseball player so excited to figure out where to stand in the infield and how to run the bases. I won’t lie, I was nervous. Oliver can not stand in one place for longer than a nanosecond, and I’m sure he would have been the kid in the field chasing butterflies and/ or picking dandelions (or at least chasing the kid who’s chasing the butterflies).
However, he was anything but disinterested. He was the one who was first in line to bat, first to put his glove on and run out into the field and the first to give coach knuckles after the game. He loved every second of being with his friends, being in the field and getting to wield a giant metal bat without repercussions.
He may be a few years away from really understanding the intricacies of the game and maybe even a few years from that before he understand how important baseball is to me. But today was about him.
Hopefully as he grows he’ll be able to enjoy the game as much as I did when I played and more importantly how much I enjoyed the time I spent with my grandfather as we experienced the game together, because there is nothing that compares to being able to squint at a sky so blue that it hurts your eyes just to look at it. To feel the tingling in you arm as you connect with the ball. To run the bases … stretch a double into a triple, and flop face-first into third and wrap your arms around the bag.
Hopefully one day he’ll get it, but for now, he enjoys being out there… maybe it’s just about getting dirty, but he enjoys it nonetheless.
I’m not sure what is coming faster, your birthdays, or my gray hairs! Luckily, the grays are few and far between these days… but there is no denying how fast you are growing up. Seven years older than the day you were born, the first time I held you… the first time I gave you a kiss! It’s practically incomprehensible to me how you are seven years old today.
The days of picking out your clothes and cutting up your dinner are slowly fading away… you may not ask me to read to you at night as much as before now that you are entrenched in reading your own chapter books. But you, always say you love me before we leave for school in the morning and your hugs are still just as tight as always. Those things will never fade.
As I watch you grow into a curious learner who asks insightful questions, wants to find out why and how things work, I know you are destined for great and miraculous things. Although those things now might be seeing how many different fart noises you can make and how much milk you can snort up your nose before you puke… you always give it your all. Grit and perseverance will serve you well as you grow.
Although you are funny and make anyone laugh, it is your empathy I am most proud of. Hearing that you always lend a helping hand to others, are the first to introduce yourself and ask the “new kid” to play and also that you you know when and why to intervene when someone is sad and if you don’t you ask how you can help is what I am continually in awe of. You have all the tools to make a massive and positive difference in this world. You’ve already done that for your mom, me and Oliver. And for that I’ll be forever grateful.
Happy seventh birthday big guy! We love you very much!
“It matters not what someone is born, but what they grow to be.” -Albus Dumbledore
Apparently this whole Covid lockdown thing has driven people to want to remodel and do construction to their house the likes that no one has ever seen before. Many things have been put on hold due to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), but home renovations aren’t one of them. I see neighbors putting in new decks, ripping out old cabinetry and installing new HVAC units left and right. How people are not going bankrupt with all this going on is beyond me.
While I understand most of the world is concerned for their health and well being and you and your family are just trying to get through each day right now… someone here is planning to turn the boys’ bedrooms into a reincarnation of the Palace of Versailles. The thing is I’m totally not up for making decisions about anything at the moment that includes random people making messes around my house that I (for all intents and purposes) can’t leave for more than a few hours at a time.
The thing is… I want to be able to be agreeable and more importantly help… maybe even take on these home projects myself (even if they are far from DIY). I wish I could. I try. I’ve done a lot recently… some plumbing and electrical, but I’m not so sure I should be the one operating a circular saw.
Even my boys know this. They tattle on me if I use a hammer around the house and god forbid I break out the screw gun. I wish I could do more. I have friends like this. They can just build an house in a weekend. I’ve gone to his house and he’ll hand me a beer and ask me to check out his new shed.
“Wait, you built a shed? When?” I’ll ask.
His response, calm, cool and collected,
“Today… I finished before you got here.”
“It’s 11:30am!!!” I’ll reply. Dejected.
Today… he built a shed today… I ran a few miles… maybe answered some emails… but he built an arc to save the animal kingdom overnight. I’m just not there yet. I built a bar/table for the basement. I’ve hung a couple of shelves and installed some blinds. But I’m just not ready to drive a flatbed truck and use saw dust as cologne.
I’m trying. I’m not perfect. But at some point we’ll have a new front door and maybe a shed. Hopefully I’ll come out of all of this with all ten fingers and the majority of my 401k.
We’re still riding out a pandemic of epic proportions and yet there’s some hope for normalcy around the corner. I’m fully vaccinated. Stef is waiting for her second dose… the kids wear their masks like they would wear a pair of gloves in the winter. They wash their hands and use sanitizer like it’s their job. It’s no big deal to them anymore.
So today we ventured out as a family. Still masked up, sanitizer and Clorox wipes at the ready, but we decided to (god help us) go to the mall. I mean the grocery store, or a gas station during this pandemic is one thing, but the mall? It was a stretch, but we needed to get out of the house and to pick up a few things for the upcoming baseball season for the boys.
Oliver has never been to the mall, Jax has been maybe twice when he was in a stroller. This was like releasing to sharks into blood infested waters. I feel like I’d have more control over two monkeys released in a banana favorite (are banana factories real). If was insanity, but we survived. All children were accounted for upon our exit from the depths of hell and mom and dad are still talking to each other.
It was a successful day if you ask me.
The three stages of mall shopping:
1. In awe of the sheer size of the place you are in. The entire scene seems like a surreal version of supermarket sweep.
2. Enjoying perusing the many stores and exciting events. It’s like a carnival and a zoo had a baby. You see something you like, give the workers a plastic card and it’s yours!
3. All of the days hard work cumulates in being driven home snug in your car seat while dreaming of your next trip to shopping heaven (or as dad calls it… hell)!
It’s been 20 years since the first time I wished you a happy birthday. I think I bought you a pair of plaid Abercrombie pants and a six pack of Smirnoff Ice. I probably took you to Olive Garden or Applebee’s and I’m sure we saw a movie afterwards.
It’s been years since that Olive Garden date and a long time since our time was our time. It’s no longer about birthday months or even birthday weekends anymore. As working parents we are tasked with so much more than just being a mom or dad. Parenting can feel isolating and lonely with its constant demands. Yet, somehow we balance it even if it’s not always perfect.
In my short stint as a parent, I’ve already wondered, more times than I like, if I’m doing it right, but one thing I do know is it’s hard. Yet somehow, even in the toughest times including giant tantrums or the occasional full on crying until they pass out, you stay strong. I appreciate you staying strong even when I’m a pain in the ass or act like your third child (or fifth if you count the dogs… then again at least I don’t pee or poop on the floor)!
You may not see it, but you are strong. You are strong for them… Jackson and Oliver will never forget that. It will make them strong and caring and most importantly, empathetic.
Twenty years later, the birthday presents that were plaid pants and Smirnoff may have turned into a teakettle for your night time chai and a travel coffee mug for your long commute after a Board of Eduction meeting… and dinner and a night cap has transformed into standing over a pot of Mac and Cheese and watching Frozen 2 for the 700th time… but no matter what, I loved you then and love you everywhere in between those Abercrombie pants and the teakettle.