Little League Is Bringing Us Closer

Father & Son ready for Little League opening day

BR & I ready for Little League opening day



This past weekend was the big game. It was opening day of my 10-year-old’s first season of Little League Baseball. And it was opening day for me as a coach.

Yup, just another day on the calendar. Nope!

P.S. You may recall that yesterday Mom in the Muddle did a guest post here on my blog. Today, I am guesting on her blog, so to read the post, click MMK on Mom in the Muddle’s blog. Enjoy.

I Can’t Handle the Little League Sidelines

Parents viewing a little league game

Parents Viewing a Little League Game

Little league Baseball season is upon us and today is the first day of a home and home series. The visiting team is Mom in the Muddle. Karen is the coach, eh blogger, at Mom in the Muddle.

She blogs about stumbling through parenthood at Mom in the Muddle. She writes, edits, parents, and whips up last-minute dinners while trying to survive her kids’ math homework.

I enjoy Karen’s blog very much and look forward to each post. So after reading her post here, make sure to go check out Mom in the Muddle.

I Can’t Handle the Sidelines

I’m pretty sure it was one of the reasons I stopped playing. I knew it even then. In fourth grade, I played softball and I wasn’t very good. When the ball was hit to my patch of centerfield grass, I ran for it and threw it in. I threw it to whoever looked most eager to get it in her glove. Only my aim sucked. My eyes looked at her outstretched hand, but the ball went six feet to the left.

I used to sit in the dugout and pray my turn wouldn’t come up. Standing at the plate, I could hear the parents in the stands. Maybe they meant for me to. “Come on, hit the ball!” They weren’t using encouraging tones. They weren’t being helpful.

As a parent, I’ve sat on the sidelines through enough games and enough sports to know that I’m not cut out for this sort of thing. I hate sitting in the stands, hearing the other parents. My kids are 8 and 11, and I already hate the other parents in the stands. I hate hearing them chuckle when a kid messes up, and not just my kid. I hate the parents who scream at the top of their lungs to their own kid, “Shoot the ball! Get it, Bobby! GET IT! GET IT! GET IIIITTTTT!” I wonder whether I’m going to have to slide over when the guy’s heart attack kicks in.

I hate the parents who forget that these kids are still learning the game, and this is not the big leagues, folks. I hate the coaches who teach the kids to push the rules.

I get angry at the kids out there who call the other kids “asses” and bully them so hard that you have to have a talk with your kid after the game about being the better man and good sportsmanship—when the talk you really want to have is, take that kid down.

I’ve heard parents laugh at my kids, yell at them, and yell at their own during all sorts of sports through the years. I’ve had to get up and walk away.

I’ve learned to sit on the grassy hill to watch baseball games, on the other end of the field during soccer games, and on the floor against the wall during basketball games. I try not to sit with the other parents. One man last year yelled so loudly so often at his son during a game, that I had to cover my ears and finally had to move. My son told me later he was glad my husband and I didn’t do that.

I do a lot of clapping during the games. I clap for my kids and other kids. I talk under my breath. A lot of times I just sit there and watch.

I remember how hard it was to be out there with so many eyes watching. Some kids are naturals. Some kids aren’t. Some kids will work hard at it and get through all that. But they don’t need some jerk in the stands to crush their spirit.

I know I never was a great athlete. I didn’t want to be. But I’ve learned more in the past eleven years about throwing a ball, shooting a basket, and kicking a soccer ball than I ever did during my own childhood because now I don’t have grown bullies bringing me down.

Pic is courtesy of Google Images

Lollipops and Popsicles: Two Generations of Sticks

Sticks - Lollipop and Popsicle - in my familyMy dad came of age in the 1940s.

Everyone smoked in the 1940s.

Every morning, he would reach for a cigarette. He smoked Kool. As he got to a certain point in life, he surely realized smoking was not cool.

However, he like many of his age and time period, was already addicted.

My dad quit smoking when he was 60. He went cold turkey. No bumming a cigarette here and there for him either. He got to the point where he could not stand having cigarette smoke around him.

While I can’t attest to his mindset as to why he quit, I can tell you his secret.

It was the sticks.  Lollipop sticks that is.

My dad’s new addiction was lollipops. He preferred Tootsie Pop lollipops to be more specific. I don’t think it was the sugar that he craved though he certainly had a sweet tooth. No, for him it was about the stick that remained after the Tootsie Pop lollipop.

Anyway, it got to the point that those lollipop sticks were everywhere in the house, my dad’s office, and his car. Where ever he was, a lollipop stick was not far.  Yes, a chewed on lollipop stick was always lurking.

To confirm what you may be thinking, it was gross. However, the other option of stinky cigarettes that made my dad hack up to the point where it scared me was much worse.

So, I choose the sticks.

BR is slim. This is not because he has a healthy diet. This is not because he is always active. This is not because he has those type of genes.

BR takes medicine for ADD. An unintended side effect of the medicine is that his appetite is suppressed. He goes through long stretches of the day where he is not interested in food. Sometimes, he complains of nausea.

There is one food that BR has never turned down – popsicles.

Every morning, he goes to the freezer to reach for a popsicle.  BR eats multiple popsicles throughout each and every day.

By the way, my wife makes the popsicles from sugar free juice. The popsicles are not my wife’s greatest recipe thought it is surely her most appreciated.

BR eats the popsicles down to the stick. In fact, he often bites the stick as well.

As you must know, chewed up popsicle sticks are nasty. And these nasty popsicle sticks can be found in BR’s bedroom, in our sofas, and on the computer desk.

Now, I would rather BR eat a healthy nutritious diet in which popsicles are not the staple. Well, at least he is eating.

Ultimately, I choose the sticks.

I’d like to think that somewhere, my Dad – who shares a name with BR – is smiling about the new generation of ‘sticks’.

Want to Know What is the Perfect Party for a 10-year-Old?

10 year old birthday party.

BR, friends, cake, and pizza – A Party

Have you seen the movie Enough Said? One issue brought up in the movie was parents dealing with children moving away to college.

Last week, BR, our oldest turned 10. He‘s not quite ready for the hallowed ivy of university life. He’s bright, but he’s not Doogie Howser.

Anyway, the movie made me think about the passing of time. My first born is in double digits. At some point, he too will walk out the door. It seems almost unbelievable to me.

I can’t say it seems just like yesterday BR was born. There have been too many laughs, frustrations, and challenges for it to feel like just yesterday. More than anything, the love I feel and the changes in my life since he was born have been nearly indescribable.

I am not going to regale you with some teary eyed list of memories or thoughts about my growing child as he enters a new phase.

It’s this simple: I am a parent. I have a child. My life has changed. My reason for living has changed.

And my son is my blessing.

How did we celebrate the big one oh?

Well, we gave him possibly the greatest birthday of all time. No exaggeration.

Put yourself into the shoes of a 10 year old. Actually, BR wears Crocs, but that’s another story. What does a 10 year old boy love?

Video games!

BR is a video game fanatic (so is SJ, for that matter). He goes on playdates and brings his Kindle. His friends come here and do the same. They will play Minecraft (BR even plays Minecraft with his brother!) for hours and be thrilled (Minecraft Playdate).

Whether it’s Minecraft or Madden, Skylanders or NBA 2K, I’m sure the boys you know in that age group are similarly wired.

So, video games had to be included in the party. CHECK.

Add cake and pizza to satisfy BR’s complex cuisine choices. CHECK AND CHECK.

Let me run down the details for you.

Game Away is a company which bills themselves as a mobile video game theater. That’s right – a 32-foot truck with FIVE widescreen high-def TVs and up to 20 people can play at once was parked was parked in front of our house. Game Away also sends a Game Coach who sets up the game, helps the kids with the games, and oversees the kids to encourage fun.

Video Game Truck

Video Game Truck.
Pic is courtesy of Game Away

My son got to invite up to 20 people to play video games within an awesome, comfortable truck. What 10-year-old would not love that?

Shoot, I was impressed. In fact, all the fathers who either dropped off or picked up their kids were impressed. We all wanted to get on the truck.

It was a blast. BR was over-the-top happy. Trying to get him calmed and to bed was challenging, but it was worth it.

Minecraft Birthday Cake

Minecraft Birthday Cake

Oh yeah, we had pizza and cake after the boys got off the truck.

Mrs. MMK made a Minecraft birthday cake. Of course. Some of the kids said it was the best cake ever. Those kids made Ms. MMK’s day.

More importantly, the whole thing made BR’s day.

Happy birthday buddy. I love you and enjoy seeing you grow and learn each day. I am not ready for you go to college yet.

10 year old on video truck

BR on the Game Away Video Truck


Video games on a truck

Guests enjoying themselves by playing video games in the truck;

Video games on the truck

SJ and other guest focusing on their video games.