A LITTLE over a year ago, as I walked R. to the car following soccer practice, she said to me, “Sorry about this, Dad, but I think my sport is soccer, not softball.”
It was beyond sweet for R. to consider her baseball-loving father’s feelings in making this declaration. Of course, I told her that it was fine and that all I wanted was for her to be happy playing. If that happiness came from playing soccer, so be it.
My problem was that I knew little about the game beyond the soul-crushing boredom caused by six hours of play resulting in a 0-0 tie. I played organized baseball as a kid and more games of pickup football, basketball, and street hockey than I can remember. As an adult I got into tennis and even golf. Soccer? That was one of them furner sports. Continue reading →
THE GIRLS had a choice yesterday: Help Mrs. D. with a massive cleaning of the house inside, or join me outside for the final leaf raking of the year. They bopped back and forth a few times before settling with me in the front yard, where the year’s most ironic statements were made.
TWO PEOPLE took pity on me at the Barnes & Noble in Plymouth Meeting yesterday afternoon.
One was a teacher, the other a bookstore staffer. What earned me their benevolence was the completely useless discussion I was having with Q. over what I would buy her.
I was arguing for books that reflected her status as a kindergartener who’s reading at a second-grade level. She dug in her heels over a princess sticker book.
Each woman, the teacher and the bookseller, tried engaging Q. over what she likes to read and suggesting various kids’ series and chapter books. Each was met, as I had been, with folded arms, a dark scowl, and pouting lips. Continue reading →
THEY’RE CALLING for a man’s job here in Philadelphia, and chances are they’re going to get it.
Eagles head coach Andy Reid long has been the subject of fans’ frustration over his perceived arrogance and failure to bring a Super Bowl to town. “Fire Andy” is not a novel chant at the Linc this season.
But now, amidst a six-game losing streak, catastrophic mismanagement of his coaching staff, mediocre drafting, awful personnel decisions, and continued in-game gaffes, the Eagles’ failures are real, not imagined, and Reid’s fingerprints are smeared all over them.
And so the “Fire Andy” drumbeat has been taken up by the local media. The storyline now is “when,” not “if.”
MOST 10-year-olds lack the capacity to offer a full rendering of their feelings and experiences regarding a week’s worth of completely new activities, surroundings, and people. And so it is difficult to determine where R.’s heart was with respect to the week of sleep-away camp from which we picked her up last weekend.
She was presented to us with frizzed-out hair, a body devoured by insects, an ear-to-ear smile, and crushing hugs. Yes, she had fun. The food was … okay. Rock climbing and zip-lining were awesome. She made some new friends. The nighttime thunderstorm that woke her up sent her scurrying to her counselor. She missed us terribly.
The question of questions, of course: Would you go again?
ON SUNDAY we packed up the girls in the Odyssey just after lunch and hit the road. Just under three hours later, we arrived at our destination, a rustic, wooded camp nestled on the west side of Rehoboth Bay. A very short 20 minutes of check-ins and goodbyes later, we were driving back, short a couple pieces of luggage and one very excited and somewhat apprehensive 10-year-old.
Some years back, somebody published a book examining our tendency to view ourselves as if characters in a film. I didn’t read the book, so I don’t recall whether its thesis was merely an observation or something larger, a sociological tsk-tsking of a helpless descent from our actual lives to an artificial media landscape.
Well, I had one of those Oh, Jesus, this feels like a movie moments Sunday.
On Friday, the last day of the t-ball season, the Butterfly Blues–my team of seven 5- and 6-year-old girls–finally got it together. Just as I was wondering whether my nonstop stream of exhortations (“Keep your hands back! Don’t take your eye off the ball! Drop the bat before you run! Stop eating dirt!”) had had any effect, the Blues gave me a final-game treat.
They still sometimes need to be told to run to first base. They still sometimes need to be told where first base is. They still sometimes need to be reminded that the game they’re here to play is t-ball, not “Play With the Stray Leaf on the Ground.”
But a funny thing happened over the last couple of months. The seven 5- and 6-year-olds I coach have become better ballplayers.
Now, as noted above, they are still very much athletic works in progress. But where they are doesn’t matter; how far they’ve come does.
Firecracker is one of my players, and as much as I want her to approach the game with Utley-level intensity and focus, she’s among those who need to reminded that staring at the game two fields over is a good way to whacked in the coconut by a ball she should have been prepared to catch. Nevertheless, she, too, has begun picking up how things go.
Our last practice of the season was last night; our final game is tomorrow night. By the time we exchange the final high-fives, I’ll be ready for the break. But I’ll also be damned proud that a group of little girls most concerned with whose mom was bringing the post-game snack somehow learned a little bit about playing ball. | DL