Archive for the 'Family' Category

From the mouths of babes . . .

20 March 2006

This morning on the way to school my son was talking about one of his favorite books,* and he referred several times to the “distract button.” It took me a second to realize he was talking about the “self-destruct button” that the hero presses to end the threat from the dreaded Orang-u-tron.

I spent my weekend alternately working hard and trying with mixed success to fight off distractions. My attention span runs short anyway, and I often fall into the habit of finding many things to do–useful in themselves, but unrelated to the most important thing I’m working on–that are distractions from the main task at hand. It’s like I have my own “self-destruct” button, labeled “Distract.”

Note to self: don’t push the Distract button.

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* Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot vs. the Mecha-Monkeys from Mars, by Dav Pilkey. Highly recommended for the under-10 set.

T-Ball

5 March 2006

Yesterday my son played his first T-ball game. He wore his spikes all day yesterday, and all day again today.

The game was mostly a hoot. You’ve got the kids who need reminding to run after they hit the ball. You’ve got the kids who take three swings to connect at all with the ball on the tee. You’ve got the three infielders and two outfielders all racing toward the same ball, then forming a scrum to decide which one of them gets to pick it up and throw it. The whole game was like that. I got to see it up close because I was one of several dads helping the coaches run the game.

The non-hoot parts were the crying kids–crying because they have to bat last, crying because their teammate won’t give them a drink from their water bottle, crying because they have to play left field and they know the ball will never be hit to them. And so on. In this league, five-year-olds are never put out on the basepaths. Partly this is to build their confidence, but I suspect it’s also because the coaches and league officials are parents, and they know that there will be way too much crying otherwise.

Even though the players are only five years old, you can already spot the players. Some of the clueless kids will clue in eventually, some will have their coordination come to them all in a rush. (It took me forever: I was finishing high school before I could hit a properly timed jump shot.) But some of them have it already–speed, alertness, hustle. These weren’t the kids who were crying because they got stuck playing catcher in a T-ball game.

Thinking about some things I’ve read recently, I wonder how much of those boys’ future success in the game will be attributable to that drive? I want to help every kid on the team enjoy baseball, because I love it and I want them to love it, too. But can anybody teach the sort of drive that the little dynamo kids are already showing? I certainly don’t know how. If you push too hard, you extinguish desire rather than fanning it; if you don’t push at all, the boys don’t get better, and, worse, they may not make the connection between trying and getting better. No good comes out of either extreme.

That’s all in the future. Somewhere, on my son’s ball field or some other, a future Hall of Famer is starting his career in baseball. That kid may be in San Juan or Nashville or Oakland or Pusan or Yokohama. Of course I hope it’s my son, if he can somehow avoid my bad eyesight and slow reflexes. So far, he loves being on his team, especially since it’s named for his daddy’s favorite team–the Red Sox. Partway through the game, he hiked up his pants legs to his knees so everyone could see his long, bright-red socks. He looked great running the bases. How could he not, with that big, fat smile on his face?

Go hug somebody.

4 March 2006

A little while ago my son came to talk to me while I was working on my laptop at the kitchen table. I had the good sense to give him my full attention while he showed me how he can count all the way to 100. He’s never done that trick before, at least for me. After he was finished, he jumped up on my lap for a big hug.

Maybe you don’t have kids, and I’m not trying to be saccharine about my own. But you have somebody, somewhere, who is important to you. Go hug them, or call them, or e-mail them. Tell them you love them. Tell them you’re glad you know them.

Do it before it’s too late. You don’t know how much time you have left; assume that time is short.

Live every day as though it were your last.

25 February 2006

This post from Seth Godin set me thinking . . . what if we lived every moment as though it might be our last? What if we engaged every challenge as though our lives depended on it?

My great-grandmother died early this morning in Georgia. She was old and full of years–she would have been 98 in two more weeks. She was a farm wife with a third-grade education, a devout Christian, mother of four, and one of the world’s great cooks. Best I can tell, she watched the news every day for all the decades that she owned a television, and she had opinions about how the nation and the world was being run. She loved everybody, and everybody loved her back. We’ll miss you, Ma Baines.

Not all of us will be so lucky.

Let me repeat something I quoted earlier: “Whatever you do, just make sure you throw every pitch with conviction.” It’s a good test: If you can do it with conviction, it’s worth doing. If you can do it knowing that you’re a terminal case, do it. We’re going to be dead a long time; if you can’t do whatever it is with a straight face while holding that thought in mind, then don’t do it.