Sunday, June 15, 2014

Batter Up

By Ronald N. Guy Jr.

Parenthood is packed with milestones and phases. Things come, things go and, before you know it, a decade has slipped by in a dizzying flash of shit, vomit, sleepless nights and enough moments of sheer joy to justify perpetuating our species.

A baby is born, requires a first diaper change and cracks a smile.  A “coo” shows up one day, a “dada” or “mamma” the next and several-years-but-a-moment-later a rage-filled “you suck, dad” crops up as pre-pubescent hormones are set ablaze. Play groups, pre-school classes, soccer, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, band, basketball, swimming, art lessons and Taeqwondo (oh yeah, I could go on and on) rapidly enter and exit a young family’s daily operations as offsprings rifle through childhood and parents grip the wheels of life.

I left out one tried and true family event: T-ball. It is a rite of passage for parents and children. I played and can still see the trophies on my dresser. I was terrified when I started and loved it when I finished. Fielding was okay; hitting was coolest thing in life (to that point).

For the last five years my kids have participated in the introductory phase to the American Pastime. It ended for me last Wednesday night when my son played his final T-ball game. I’ve watched my last game with kids running in the wrong direction, spectacularly errant throws, the occasional amazing play and every player playing for the ultimate prize: the post-game snack!!! 

I have had a picture of my son’s first T-ball at-bat on my phone for three years. I took it from behind the backstop. Poor kid was only slightly bigger than the bat and his over-sized helmet robbed him of half his vision. So as he strode to the plate for his final T-ball at bat last week, I couldn’t help myself - I snapped a photo from the same location. He was bigger, of course, and I was proud, but sadness was the dominant emotion. I was closing a chapter on a special phase…and I wasn’t ready to let go. There will be other things, I’m sure, but for me the melancholy associated with closing a familiar, well-worn book isn’t overcome by the joy from cracking open a new one.

Years ago I was driving home from a summer vacation and I noticed a roadside sign that read something like, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I remember it because it was sage advice. As a for a former T-ball parent…I’m trying to embrace it. I’ll get there, eventually.

Happy Father’s Day to my fellow domestic warriors. 

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