Boys And Baseball

by Rich on March 5, 2018

College baseball is kicking off around the country, and, as I mentioned last week, my son is quickly turning into a man. And oddly enough, I can’t think of one without the other.

When my son turned 11, I took him and two of his friends to a college baseball game for his birthday. Eleven. That weird age between still a kid and wanting to be all grown up. An age were a boy is pulled equally by the familiarity of the playground and the promise of the playing field. It was interesting, to say the least.

I have only one child, so every experience with him has been, and continues to be a first. There is nothing to measure experiences against. And that is both good and bad. It’s good because I don’t take anything for granted. It’s bad because I’m constantly terrified that either a) I am doing something wrong as a dad, or, b) my kid is really weird. Ironically, both of those tend to be true from time to time, but I am learning not to worry too much about it.

Having only one child also made these little excursions with other children very interesting and informative. There is a tendency for dads (this one, at any rate) to obsess about our sons growing up to be strong men, and I was no exception. When you’re a first time dad of one, that feeling is amplified. Which is why this particular trip was so amazing, and why it sticks with me to this day.

Upon arriving at the ballpark, I lined up all 3 boys and gave them some very solid guidelines as to my expectations regarding their behavior. Simple things like…, stick together, don’t fight, refrain from catching the bathroom on fire. Basic stuff. Stuff they immediately ignored the moment we walked through the gate. Well, not exactly. They did wait until I had dropped $75 on an amount of food that wouldn’t feed two gerbils and a fat roach. They hung around long enough to wolf that down, and then it was off to the races. Literally.

Now, these were good kids. Nice boys. So it was delightful to see them so… well… nerdy! I don’t mean that in a derogatory way. I just mean that they were so not cool. And was a good thing. You shouldn’t have to carry the burden of trying to be cool until at least 8th grade. There inevitably comes a time when attracting the attention of the prettiest girl at school becomes the priority. But thankfully, we weren’t there yet. Because this was the time for them to revel in the fact that, not only might their fly be unzipped and they hadn’t bathed in three days, but the also really didn’t care.

There is a time when trying to be cool completely takes over. It’s normal. But I’m glad it wasn’t that day. Seeing those boys interact brought back memories of myself at that age. Halfway between Adventure People and Allison Perry (who had to dare me to kiss her. What was I thinking?!). I was no different. None of us were. The magic is holding on to that joy for fun throughout our lives. So far my son has done that and I hope he continues to.

So going to the ballpark brings back all those memories and feelings, and is a part of what makes me love the game. Because I get to watch other, bigger kids, maintaining that joy, hanging on to the sheer act of playing a game because they love to play it.

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