A Rash of Poison Ivy (and Bad Luck)

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I have decided to tell a story about the excitement that has befallen me. Last week, I got into some poison ivy. I tend to have a bad reaction to it, worse than most people. I dealt with it the best I could. I took antihistamines, used ointments to ease the itch. I washed the infected areas. I did what I could to keep it under control.

One of my infected legs.

There were some things about the reaction Wife didn’t like, like parts of the rash turning a deep purple and one of my legs swelling up. Wife, with the help of a few additional relatives said I should go to the hospital. I’m at the hospital now and patiently waiting my turn. While I’m here, I’m going to keep you up to speed on everything going on with my treatment and the fun people-watching I’m doing in the waiting area. By the way, this is being done on the phone, so I’m sorry if things look off-kilter.

It’s been fun here at the hospital. Nurses come into the waiting area, yell a name, and no one answers. I gave my information to the people at check-in, sat down in the waiting area and the. Was seen by triage. The nice people at triage asked me the same questions I was originally asked. A third person asked me the same questions I answered twice already as well as a couple of bonus questions. My religion. My race. I didn’t know what my race had to do with my poison Ivy. The nice person explained it was for research. The person asking the questions told me they weren’t the one asking the questions.

Luckily, I have some books to keep me busy. I’m reading. While reading, I spoke to some relatives over the phone. I gave them a play-by-play of what was happening. There was a guy who was yelling at nurses and then security. A woman was yelling at the receptionist for not giving her a note, which meant she would be fired from a job. The nice receptionist explained the doctor had to see her first before they could give her the note. She’ll get one, she just needs to be patient. She isn’t feeling very patient right now. I stopped reading to take in the sideshows going on here at the hospital.

More shots of poison ivy.

Family Feud is on, but the drama here in the waiting room seems more exciting. I’m just glad none of the excitement is being caused by my family this time. We’ve had enough of that.

Someone else has come in. They’re being belligerent. A woman who came in with him grabbed him by the shirt and dragged him to the door saying, Stop it right now.” Security is putting gloves in. This should be fun. Closer to me, a lady is on the phone while trying to prevent her son from climbing on an end table.

After a six-hour wait, I’ve been moved to a triage unit. It’s nice. There’s a tv. A table for my books. It’s nice to put my feet up. It helps the swelling. No one has come in yet, but some nice people are saying hello as they pass by.

My digs for the moment

More drama. Someone’s mad. They’re tired of waiting. I think all the patients are, but this guy is really letting them know. I can’t hear everything because of the TV in my room. I can’t find the remote control. They didn’t give me a tour of the place but I’m trying to figure out all the important stuff while I’m here.

Two people come in and check me out. My rash (see the pictures) are unlike anything they’ve seen. I’m glad I was able to contribute to medicine. We discuss my prescriptions. They decide to give me a larger dose. Keep being vigilant with the medication and ointments. Resist the urge to scratch (but it feels so good! 😖). I am sent home with a new prescription. I talk to family on the way home. When I come home, I see my children. I hope for some sympathy hugs. Nothing. I eat dinner and reflect on the day, the nice people who helped me, and those who unknowingly entertained me.

Home again.

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Fundamentals of Basketball (Shooting Baskets)

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The Boy has taken a liking to basketball. This is only natural as one of the Gaggle plays, watches, breathes, and lives basketball. The Boy tends to want to do things older children do, especially the older ones living with him.

I jump in a game sometimes. Sometimes, I will just wait under the hoop and get the rebound and pass it to someone. God forbid someone gets a rebound nowadays. The Gaggle will try a shot and sometimes I will call out “Miss!”. The ball hits the rim and falls to the ground. No basket. The Gaggle looks at me because my powers caused him to miss the shot. I never knew I had this power and now I think I have the perfect reason to get free tickets to Celtics games.

Basketball really isn’t my thing. Brave Daddies, Brave Mommies, and other loyal readers know this already. When I started writing for newspapers, I addressed the shortage of hockey writers in the department. It was cold in the ice rinks, but people wanted to know what was going on with the renegades of the rink. I gave up heated gymnasiums and climate-controlled fieldhouses in order to deliver the scores and the stories behind those scores in unheated hockey rinks. You’re welcome.

I’ve gotten into basketball ever since the Gaggle had taken a liking to it. I was at basketball game cheering for him and the rest of the team. I offered whatever advice I could after the game. I asked him about the game on the way home. We would talk a little and wait for the next game or practice.

A basketball on the ground because nobody wanted to get the rebound.

Back home, The Boy will join in on our games/shootarounds. The boy is still growing and the Boston Celtics aren’t scouting him yet. He likes to shoot from downtown. He can barely make the rim, but he insists he can do it. I offer some advice to him while he’s dribbling. Does he take any? Of course not. It reminds me of my basketball games with the boy named “Wilt”. “Wilt” would be double-or-triple-teamed. It didn’t matter. He was going to take it to the hole one way or another. I’d be wide open. Heck, he could even pass it to me, get some defenders off him, and he’d be open and under the hoop. Ready to lay one in. But, no. He knows what he’s doing. He can do it. Just like the children at my house. They won’t take advice. They won’t make a lot of baskets right now, but if you have a clause in your contract for rebounds, they just might make you wealthy.

I try to talk to The Boy about this. If he would move a little closer to the hoop, he could work on his dribbling, his footwork, his layups. I thought it would be a good chance for him to work on everything. As he gets older, his arms get stronger. He can move further away from the hoop as time goes on and work on those three-pointers he’s so obsessed with. But, no. He knows what he’s doing. I don’t know what I’m talking about, as usual. My advice is useless and I know nothing.

Another shot goes off the rim and down the street. More boys chase after it. Maybe next time, The Boy will move a little closer to the hoop. Then again, maybe not.

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The Challenges for Children in High School Sports

I’m not a runner. I never have been. One day… I almost lost to an offensive lineman. Running isn’t my forte. Now I have a child who wants to spend his time after school running. This is someone who lacks hustle when getting ready to leave the house, but who am I to step on one’s dreams?

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Seasons come and go, especially in sports. When I was a child, seasons were divided into sports, school, and summer vacation. The sports seasons and their beginnings and ending remained when I moved from being a high school student to a newspaper reporter. I didn’t mind it, of course. I’ve enjoyed playing and watching sports my entire life.

I’ve taken that experience in sports and used it to teach my own children and those who have played under my tutelage during the baseball and football seasons. As a coach, I have served as a teacher, a motivator, and sometimes a therapist for those who watched someone step on their base or didn’t get the ball thrown to them on a certain play regardless of how many people were covering them. These are challenging times for me. Sometimes I have to explain to someone why they got pushed out of bounds. It’s because they had the ball and were running near the sidelines. Sorry, Champ. That’s how the game is played.

Finding a Way to Help the Children

It’s not always easy, but then again, I’ve been watching sports long enough to figure a solution to the problem. That’s what I do. I fix things: game situations, strategies, bruised arms and egos. I find a solution and help the promising athlete back on their feet in on the field.

Sports can be challenging… for the kids, too. Photo by RUN 4 FFWPU on Pexels.com

And then one of the Gaggle tells me they want to run cross-country. This threw me for a loop, especially when they originally wanted to play football. At least with football, I could offer a little advice. Cross-country? I get excited when I break the eight-minute mile. I’m not a runner. I never had been. One day at football practice in high school, I almost lost to an offensive lineman in the 40-yard dash. I had a baseball coach who told me to get the refrigerator out of my back pocket when I ran. I wasn’t fast. I’m still not fast. Running isn’t my forte.

My organized children

Helping me Help the Children

Now I have a child who wants to spend his time after school running. This is someone who lacks hustle when getting ready to leave the house, but who am I to step on one’s dreams? Lucky for me, a friend of mine happens to be a runner. He was captain of the high school cross-country team. He beat me in every race and game we had. I’m not going to say if I let him win. We’re friends. No need to get into the past like that.

Anyway, I sought his advice for running since I had none to give. He gave me some pointers that I passed along to the Gaggle. It should be interesting. This child will be running about three miles every day. He’s been excited about it. I haven’t dealt with high school sports in a while.

I’m still getting back into it and figuring out captains’ practices (if any) and what the child needs in order to practice with the team (doctor’s forms, permission slips, CYA paperwork). There’s also the issue of making sure the child knows their schedule, when practice starts and ends. When and where the meets are. What they need for said practice and meets. I’m not worried. I’m sure they’ll be fine. They’re a teenager. What could possibly go wrong?

Basketball (and a Mix of Hockey) in the Summer

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A nice day with the family.

One of the Gaggle has taken a liking to sports, especially basketball. This is most welcome news to me. When I was a teenager, sports was a focal point of my life. Even if my favorite teams weren’t in the World Series, Super Bowl, NBA, or Stanley Cup Finals, it was an obligation for me to follow the playoffs and watch or listen to the final round or game. This particular child has taken a particular interest in basketball and has signed up to play in an organized team this season.

This new activity means going to games. This is nothing new to me or The Boy, as we have spent many Saturdays going to games and bonding. My favorite part is when we talk about the game and whatever else is going on in his life over chicken fingers and french fries after the game. For the record, when I ask, he does “nothing” at school, with his friends, and “nothing” is happening with his life.

Back to the Gaggle. This child has games that stretch over the weekend. It’s usually one game on one day and two on another. That’s fine with me. It means a chance to get something to eat and catch up with the other children who are at the game with me. It’s a nice little bonus for me. I get to watch sports, eat with my kids, and talk with them and find out how their life is.

Speaking of bonuses, there was one nice little surprise that happened for us, or me, on one day we were enjoying a day of basketball. The Gaggle had a game at a prep school one weekend. This school just happened to have a hockey rink across from the basketball gymnasium. This hockey rink just happened to have a hockey game during the time between the two basketball games. It was too good to be true. I recruited The Boy to go with me to the rink to check out the game. He lasted about 30 seconds before he decided it was too cold and he couldn’t stay there. The Oppressed, on the other hand, didn’t seem to mind the ice and cold and watched the game with me. She seemed to like hockey, especially the hitting.

It was a great day for me. I got to see one child play in one game and got to see another game with another child. There have been other games that I have watched the child play in. I look forward to all of them. I like to watch the games and then talk to them about the game and what they thought about how they did. Sometimes, if I’m lucky, there will be another game for me and someone else to watch.

A nice little bonus between basketball games.

Family Fun at Fenway Park

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There was another recent milestone for The Gaggle. They saw their first game at Fenway Park. This was a special moment for everyone because their first game was against the New York Yankees.

Wife wanted me to pick the seats. I knew this would be a special moment so I knew the seats had to be just right. I picked bleacher seats behind the bullpen. I knew this would give the children, all children a special experience and it did… But more on that later.

We drove into Boston that night and parking wasn’t as bad as you would expect. We made it to Fenway Park with time to spare. We got food. I got a score book because I like to keep score when I go to a Red Sox game. There wasn’t a lot of time to get to our seats and we wanted to get our food and get settled. I grabbed a pre-made Italian sausage. Don’t buy the pre-made Italian sausage.

A few innings in and The Boy already had to use the bathroom. It was the first of multiple trips to the bathroom during the game. I stopped keeping score. I was missing too much to keep up.

It also rained. Usually, when sitting in right field, I am under the porch where the retired numbers are. I picked seats that were directly behind the bullpens with no shelter. I was so occupied with finding good seats, I didn’t think about the weather. This was a lack of foresight and I assume full responsibility for this. My family got wet because I did not plan. Luckily for my family, my wife planned and provided ponchos for us.

Fenway Park

Another trip to the bathroom for The Boy. Another episode of standing up, making other people stand up so we can get out. Finding our way through the crowds getting food, finding their seats, standing in line. Fenway Park is small and I would like to see the Red Sox play in a bigger park with room for people to move around without walking into each other or having to walk through a line of people waiting for their food. Yes, I said it. I would like to see Fenway Park replaced.

The game went on. The Boy and I returned to our seats. I got a refill on my drink while I was up. Just Coca-Cola tonight. The boy and I returned to our seats. We were in the middle innings. Things were getting a little tense between the Red Sox fans and the Yankees fans. People started chanting their standard slogans. I thought the Red Sox winning World Series lately would put an end to razzing the Yankees and their fans. I guess it’s been a while since I’ve been to a Red Sox-Yankees game.

More rain. This time it was enough to cause a delay. Rain ceases. Play resumes. More chanting. More razzing. Yankees fans yelling. Red Sox fans yelling. Things escalate. Security comes. Police come. Fans are escorted out of the park. Fans cheer and now I feel like Wife and I have truly given our children a real Fenway experience.

Some of the children aren’t feeling well so Wife leaves with them. I offer to go and suggest we should all go. Wife disagrees. Children have been looking forward to this and it’s their first time there. I remain with the other children. The Red Sox win, 5-4 in 10 innings.

The Red Sox celebrate a win. My kids were there.
My new book “Down on the Farm” is now available on Apple Books.

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