Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Three strikes and Luke was almost out.

Hey. This is Ryan.

I'm starting (I guess) to sink into the role of Taxi Mom as in I'm always thinking about where I need to be and at what time and what outfit should all the children be wearing. Today we had tee ball at 8:30 a.m. You read that right. Eight-freakin'-thirty in the morning I had to have Luke chipper, cheerful and ready to make his "home slams" for his team of ... special ... boys.

Here's how it went down this morning: I got up at 6 a.m. to do the dishes because I knew my day would not allow housework. And with the cousins coming to spend the night, I knew they would inevitably blab to my sister-in-law that our house was "disgusting." I had to make sure at least the front room was picked up and the dishes were clean.

I also have learned my lesson that if I want to not smell like a barrel of farts, as Emma puts it, I better shower before the kids wake up. I also shaved my head, but that's a story for another blog. I even brushed my teeth today. I figured I better do it some time this summer.

Before doing the dishes, I decided to log into Facebook and do my farm chores. If you're wondering what kind of chores I could mean, well, I'm addicted to a stupid, time-sucking Flash game called Farm Town. I watered the wife's garden and cleaned up some tornadoes at neighboring farms so I could reach Level 12. That must have been some hard, intensive labor in Virtual World, because by the time I finished, it was already 8 a.m. So much for my plan to have the family up, breakfast served and family prayers.

My Karma punishment for putting wants before needs was walking into Luke's room and thinking I'd entered the Proctor & Gamble ammonia laboratory. The kid had peed the equivalent of a fire hydrant being left open for several hours. And it reached to his chin and the bottom of his pillows. Only 20 minutes to go before he had to be on the baseball field.

I threw him into the shower, washed him and got him dressed for the game and headed out the door. Of course we were about five minutes late, and the other team had cycled through most of their lineup by the time we arrived. He ran out on the field and took his position and I took mine behind the fence to watch what happened next.

Our team consists of 12 four-year-olds and 39 screaming adults. My math is not off because I've factored in grandparents, friends, other family and the occasional busybody that decides yelling at little kids might be fun that day. For the most part, the team is pretty oblivious. While parents scream, "Nathan! Nathan! Naaaa-than! Stand up! Put down that bug! Not in your mouth! Hey, batter, batter, bat...Nathan, put that bug down, I said!" the boys tend to their newly made dirt farms, investigate beetle deaths and call each other, "babies."

Today was an especially hard game, but finally evenly matched. I mean that the players were around the same age as our boys. At the last two games, our boys struggled with remaining upright while the opposite team struggled with getting dates for the Prom that night. It was hard today because Luke and maybe two other boys take the game seriously while the others throw dirt or (no joke) third base at each other.

Luke may take sports a little too seriously. Anyone who knows my kid, knows he did not inherit his athleticism from either my wife or me. The kid can play anything. Case in point: We ran up to Rexburg this afternoon to play in their free water park. I lost sight of Luke while changing Clark's diaper for only a second. I found him playing tennis with two young BYU-Idaho coeds. They were cooing about how great he played tennis as I dragged him off the court, ready to lecture about the dangers of running off. "Really?" I asked.

"Yeah," the one closest to me said as she jogged over to ruffle Luke's hair and give him a hug goodbye. "He was great. He returned our serves and I thought you had him in lessons."

"Nope," I said and then asked, "Can I see him play with you girls a little?"

They obliged and I witnessed Lukey Agassi return their serves and volley the ball a bit. I was amazed. He had never touched a tennis racket until today, not unless you count Wii Sports (which I totally do!). Well, that's Lukey. He's taught himself so many sports and just wants me to play ball with him. All the time! I've played more sports in the four years of his life than in my entire life.

And he loves baseball. While two of his teammates called each other the bad guys from Batman: "Hey, Joker!" "Yes, Penguin?" and still three others struggled to see the camel at the zoo from across the field, Luke suddenly lost his patience. "Guys! Come on, guys! Get your head in the game!" So High School Musical had made an impact on his athleticism. I knew it was a good idea to show him that!

This brought the team around, but I decided to help Coach Luke out a little more. The actual tee ball coach has the boys throw the ball to first base every time. I decided to switch it up: "Luke," I whisper-yelled. "When you get the ball and there's someone on third base, run the ball to the tee and set it on the tee."

"Okay, Dad!" The ball came straight for him and I beamed with pride as he ran forward to scoop the ball. Only he didn't scoop up the ball. He missed the ball, ran back and grabbed it, but was beat by the runner previously on third base. That's when the pouting began. "What's the matter?" I cried out, worried that this was the end of our budding sports hero. "Nuh-fing (nothing)," he said through pursed lips. "I just can't run fast enough!"

I reassured him that it took practice and that he would beat the runner home soon, but in the meantime, stop crying! That made him upset even more, so I tried to be more supportive. "Luke! Suck it up or I'm taking you outta this game!"

More pouting. In fact, it became worse as he meandered to the ball-in-play. Finally, I took him out behind our van and said he better straighten up or he would be done with baseball - FOREVER! That got him. He ran out to the field and grabbed the next ball with gusto and ran to get the runner out at home.

I am not one of those dads that has to be so involved that I yell at my kid as he plays his game and I'm definitely not trying to relive my childhood through him. I just know that some kids a little reality check to get them to perform at their optimum level. Luke finished the game hitting his two times at bat and making the outfield interupt their daisy-petal counting and beetle eating. All I need to do is get him to understand the concept of good sportsmanship. Guess that means I'll have to learn it first.

P.S. Luke is still working off the whole windshield vs. rock incident a few months ago. Just thought you'd like to know that. He's not forgotten and we've not forgotten.


Shanakin Skywalker said...

I saw the ad for that Farm game this morning and was very tempted by it. I resisted though and now I'm glad I did. It sounds like one of those things that would suck me in too.
My youngest is on a tball team right now and we "misplace" the mitt sometimes and "have" to miss the games.

Sandi said...

Way to go, Luke!

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