No way did we get this much stuff when we were kids!
Don’t get me wrong. Santa hooked me up every year and we never went wanting, but I remember getting a WWF Wrestling Buddy, a 1987 Topps factory set and a Rickey Henderson autograph and I literally thought Santa went broke just on our Christmas presents every year!!!.
PS: the single greatest XMAS present ever given to any child:
We’re at the point in parenting children (in terms of a nighttime routine) where it’s not just dealing with diapers and trying to get them to sleep w out crying. Those infant stage all-nighters are expected when you have babies. They poop themselves and they want to eat that’s what babies do. But now we have older kids… no more babies. They are supposed to read a book and fall asleep peacefully.
Therefore, taking care of two children who are almost eight and five years old we expect nighttime cooperation. Unfortunately, these damn kids are at the age where they have learned that they have some power in the world, and they’ve decided to seize any opportunity to use it. We’re not surprised by our mini-negotiators saying anything to stall their bedtime—even if they’re about to fall asleep mid-sentence. That’s not an issue. I can deal with that.
But, this is different. This is every night at 1am… 2:30am… every night. They seek us out. They are just there. I don’t know how they get in our bed. I don’t understand the science behind being able to climb over us get under the blankets and not wake anyone up. They just do it. It’s magic, it’s sorcery. Somehow they just appear. Every. Goddamn. Night.
I wake up with either a foot jammed in my back, or with someone crying about a monster that might be in the closet, or bathroom, or on the roof. Listen, I respect that. I had my fair share of nightmares a kid. But, I’m starting to wonder if these stories are just made up. Legit, made up dreams to make mom and I just give in and let them stay in bed with us.
Case in point:
Last week… It was the middle of the night, and we were sound asleep (Steph had already abandoned ship after being up for hours trying to calm a miserable four year old who wanted to stay up and watch tv/ have a drink of water/ have a snack/ read one more book/ etc, etc, etc). I thought I had finally gotten a night of sleep only wake up at 3:30 to the sound of someone having a full on conversation in the bed. It took me a minute to realize it was Oliver talking to someone. I looked around to see who he was talking too. “Steph?,” I whispered. That’s when I realized we were alone.
I jumped out of bed and did whatever a guy needs to do when he believes his home is being invaded, (or his son is possessed), I screamed like a 14 year old seeing Harry Styles for the first time in concert. “Ok, everything is fine,” I said to myself. No one is here. No poltergeist or anything like that, right? But then I heard more mumbling… “Gyro [who is our neighbors’ dog] is barking! His face is right there, but it’s square?!!!”
My first thought: what the heck is he talking about?!? My second thought: Is my kid hallucinating?!!
That’s our life now… waking up to children in our bed at 2am talking about our neighbor’s dog. (And we thought the baby night time stage was hard). It’s exhausting, but the good news is I’ve read some advice from a parenting blog (clearly one that takes themselves way more serious than #ChroniclesOfANewDad. Their advise was:
“Carry your midnight wanderer back to their room every time they bust into yours. If you let them crash with you, you’re setting the stage for a never-ending bedtime battle. Consider hanging bells on your doorknob so you can hear your toddler coming; that way, you can walk them back to their room before they climb into your bed and make themselves comfy.”
“Walk them back, tell them to stay in their own rooms, carry them back yourself”… it’s not working here (there’s no way it’s happening anywhere). Everyone has advise, everyone has ideas until they wake up with child’s foot in their ear and a four year old talking to the next door neighbor’s dog!
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…
We keep coming back to baseball. For some reason it’s like the glue that holds this blog together. It’s the glue that has helped bond my family together from Pop to Oliver. Through this Covid-19 pandemic all we have wanted was sports to get our nation back to cheering for something and unite most of us in hating the Red Sox.
Up until today Major League Baseball wasn’t a thing. It started and stopped and started again (and stopped again in the top of the 6th inning… not because of Covid, but because of baseball’s arch memos is: RAIN. BUT, that did not stop us from celebrating opening day… in… July! Opening day is more than just games starting, it (usually signals that warmer weather is near and fathers and sons can start playing catch again.
To that point, giving your son his first baseball glove is something that needs to be celebrated.
The history of baseball is passed on from generation to generation. My grandfather passed it on to me and I’ll pass it on to my sons. I was Phil Rizzuto turning double plays and Rickey Henderson robbing homeruns over Pop’s Boxwood Hedges.
Getting your first glove is a rite of passage. I still have the glove Pop bought me. I remember going to the store to buy it with him. I remember breaking it in and the smell of the leather. I blogged about buying Jax his first glove a couple of years ago and now it is Oliver’s turn.
While Jax is devolving into a pretty decent switch hitter who throws lefty, Oliver is just learning the basics, but seems to have the right handed swing and also throws righty like his dad. Playing catch is beginning to actually “happen” now. Both Jax and Oliver enjoy it and Oliver now, with his very own glove is definitely more interested, even it means he’s purposely throwing a ball in the woods, laughing about it and then spending 10 minutes trying to find it… over and over and over again!
Being able to now be out there with both my sons, all with our baseball gloves on… there’s just something magical about it. The ball going back and forth between us… no words need to be spoken, although neither of my children usually go more than thirty seconds without talking… again just like dad). But, just the popping of the glove…. like an invisible string connecting us. That’s what makes it magic. In the end that’s what baseball does, it connects us with our past, with each other… and right now it’s connected Oliver to his big brother and dad!
As 2019 its door and the start of a new decade opens, it’s a time to reflect and look forward to the amazing things on the horizon. As far decades go… the 2010s were as Larry David would say, “pretty, pretty, pretty good.” And considering this last one was my fourth… I know a good decade when I see one. But really… four decades… that is pretty crazy. I’m now 40 – as in 40 years old.
This decade saw so many ups and downs, So many gains and so many losses. However, all of the losses make the gains so much more exuberant. I became a dad and also an uncle (which is like being a dad, except you can just send the little tyke home when you are done playing with them!!!)
This decade was pretty nuts… I “went viral” as is the popular phrase these days for my Harry Potter Cupboard Under the Stairs that i build for the boys… so that in of itself is pretty indicative of what this decade was like!
If I had to summarize the last ten years in a sentence or two it would read something like this… I fell more deeply in love with my beautiful wife then I ever imagined possible. I lost my person, my grandfather, but I gained two of the most amazing little boys anyone could ever ask for. (ohh… and I won a Super Bowl)!
The decade started out with me taking the career path I always envisioned, as I took my first administrative job as an assistant principal, which I later parlayed itself into becoming a principal, including turning that first building around from a “Tier 3 Schools” in need of improvement to a “Tier 1 School of High Distinction, High Achievement and High Growth” in under three years. I’m proud of what was accomplished and I’m proud of the amazing students that worked so hard every day.
As I said earlier, there were losses. I lost my last two grandparents. Pop, left us the day after Thanksgiving in 2016. Jackson still talks about him, and unfortunately Oliver will only know him through the stories that are still told at the dinner table like folk tales. Steph lost her father, which was one of the hardest to explain to our little ones.
I was able to walk in the footsteps of Harry, Ron and Hermione in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter (four times). I caught wide receiver Jordy Nelson during a Lambeau Leap and visited Broadway a few times.
Stephanie and I moved into our dream house in an amazing community with some of the greatest neighbors anyone could ever ask for. Our children love all their new friends and we are so lucky to have amazing people around us everyday.
There is no better part of the last ten years than that of bringing into this world two of the most amazing little boys that have ever lived. Jackson and Oliver have made Stephanie’s and my life so much more than we could have ever asked for all those years ago. They have changed my life. They make every moment of my life better, more important and most of worth living.
It hasn’t always been perfect… but two decades have gone by with you and my hope is that the next many decades are spent by your side. Our boys are lucky to have you as their mother, their protector and their best friend.
So it’s FALL BALL time again. Jax has been honing his skills throughout the summer. We’ve even been watching some games together where he’s able to sit and focus for more than 30 seconds. He loves watching players dive for balls in the field and was excited to start this new baseball season.
I knew I was raising a superstar, but didn’t realize I was raising a superstar DIVA the likes of Keyshawn Johnson or Terrell Owens… or the infamous Allen Iverson
The minute we get to practice he’s tired and thirsty. He just can’t muster up the energy to go to his first warm up station. When the team is throwing balls through a hula hoop he needs to relax on the bench. When the other coaches are throwing grounders he wants to go home.
However, as soon as it’s time to hand in that lineup card this kid is ready to shine. He’s got his helmet on and he’s ready to bat clean up. He’s climbing the dugout fence to cheer on his teammates.
He went 2-2 and got his first hit in real pitch baseball. He’s a natural. He’s an All-Star… he performs best when the lights shine the brightest. (Just don’t ask him to show up for practice).
I assume the conversation he had with Coach Chris went something like this, “We sittin’ in here, I’m supposed to be the franchise player, and we in here talkin’ about practice. I mean listen, we talkin’ ’bout practice. Not a game, not a game, not a game. We talkin’ about practice. Not a game, not a, not a, not the game that I go out there and die for, and play every game like it’s my last. Not the game. We talkin’ bout practice, man. I mean how silly is that? We talkin’ bout practice. I know I’m supposed to be there, I know I’m supposed to lead by example. I know that, and I’m not shovin’ it aside, you know, like it don’t mean anything. I know it’s important, I do. I honestly do.
“But we talkin’ bout practice, man. What are we talkin’ about? Practice? We talkin’ about practice, man. We talk — we talkin’ bout practice. We talkin’ bout practice! We ain’t talkin’ bout the game, we talkin’ bout practice, man. When you come to the game, and you see me play, you see me play, don’t you? You see me give everything I got, right? But we talkin’ bout practice right now.”
First there was the Commerce Comet, then came the Millville Meteor… and now-wearing number 7 for his local fall-ball team is the Bristol Bullet.
I was psyched when Coach Dave hooked up our switch hitting slugger with Mickey Mantle’s number. I always wore 24 for my favorite player Rickey Henderson, but I was a right handed hitting speedster who liked to steal bases and slide head first. Jax is shaping up to be a pretty damn good hitter from both sides of the plate!
If there are two guys you want your son to be similar to on the baseball field you could do a lot worse than Mantle and Trout. Growing up in 2019 (although we are Yankees fans, Mike Trout is a player who you enjoy watching and rooting for. While we bleed blue for the Yankees, I’m glad Jax will have Mike Trout, a fantastic baseball player and even more importantly a fantastic human being, to look up to as a role model.
Want to promote reading? Kids don’t always have to read a book to be reading. While traditionaly we ask children to chose a “book at their level,” mixing that in and promoting “reading for information” outside of a “book” is real world, rigorous & engaging for kids. (IE: The back of a baseball card!) Then, hook your children with a book that connects to their interests
I love that Jax wants to “do baseball cards.” In a time where screens (iPads, iPhones) dominate the world, it’s refreshing to unplug once and a while. I’m not going to get on my high horse and say that my kids do not have time on YouTube or what not… but I do try to make sure there is a happy medium. The best part is that both boys are great at regulating themselves. Baseball cards have always been a huge part of my life and they seem to be seem becoming a bonding time for Jax and I (Oliver just throws them all over the place).
Get your old baseball cards out now, comic books… look through them, heck read the back of a cereal box… inspire your kids to be a reader by being a reader yourself!