Playing Games and Waiting Turns

Keep in mind I said there are three people playing cards and there’s not a lot of time between turns, but my children (especially The Boy) are convinced they have the time to check their rooms, run downstairs, go somewhere and do something and be back in time for their next turn.

School is in. Classes have started. Assignments have commenced. All five children are in the routine of reading and writing.

It was a good summer. We got to get away a couple of times. We tried new things. Wife and I liked being able to try a new restaurant in the middle of our travels and the kids liked the donuts we got at Donut Dip. We had a good summer. It was nice to have a break from the excitement of the daily life of work, practice, and the daily crisis that befalls us.

Monopoly. A favorite of mine and one of the Gaggle’s.

We still get a little free time now and then. That usually happens at night when dinner is over and dishes are done by the child who has that task. They haven’t started them yet, but it’s just a matter of time. For a short time, before we send the children to bed to recharge the batteries for the upcoming day, people usually spend a few moments doing something. For me, that means playing a game with The Oppressed and The Boy. Sometimes one of The Gaggle will join us, especially if it’s a game of Monopoly (I love that child).

Lately, it’s been cards. We play a couple of games before sending the children to bed. The games are fun. The problem is that the children don’t understand they actually need to be there when they are playing. We play Uno at night. There are three of us, so theoretically, it’s a fast-paced game where you don’t need to wait very long for your turn.

With our house, there’s always something that steals our children’s attention. It doesn’t take much when it comes to our kids and it doesn’t matter what it is we’re doing at the time. My children think they can multi-task. I wish they felt this power when it came to picking up their rooms or whatever mess they left behind. It’s a strange power. It comes and goes like wi-fi signals.

Uno cards patiently waiting to be played.

We’ll start to play a game. It starts well. Everyone checks their hand, waits their turn, and throws a card. As the game progresses, though, the children feel a need to check on other things throughout the house. Keep in mind I said there are three people playing cards and there’s not a lot of time between turns, but my children (especially The Boy) are convinced they have the time to check their rooms, run downstairs, go somewhere and do something and be back in time for their next turn. They thrown down a card, jump up, and make a dash for it. Before they’ve left the room, I tell them it’s their turn and need to be back. They will be back, they tell me, right after they check out what needs to be checked out. They’ll be right back, and they do come back just in time to throw down another card before doing another lap around the house before coming back for their turn. Honestly, it’s almost like we’re back at Six Flags. Waiting a long time for something that’s a fraction of the time we spent waiting. Maybe that’ what The Boy is doing. Maybe he thinks we’re back at Six Flags and he’s pretending he’s still on Summer Vacation. Or maybe he just has that sudden burst of energy that evades him when we need to leave the house or pick up his room. I don’t know. I’ve mentioned before there are mysterious forces at my house; Forces that visit and leave messes in what were clean and tidy rooms and corners. Maybe these forces have found their way to my son. I wonder if they can get him to the car in time for football practice.

Heart, Soul, and Slugger

I’m going to call this kid “Slugger”. Slugger is a boy who is excited to be at the field every time. He’s not necessarily interested in playing baseball but there is an infield full of dirt. We’ll get to that later.

The t-ball season, like other volunteering opportunities, has offered an abundant supply of memories and life-lessons. Every year, there is always one player in particular that will stand out in your mind forever. It’s not the clumsy swing. It’s not the lackadaisical “trot” to first base. It’s more the overall behavior and personality about that one kid who, through fate and chance, just happened to end up on your team.

I love baseball. I love telling stories. This year gave me both.

I’m going to call this kid “Slugger”. Slugger is a boy who is excited to be at the field every time. He’s not necessarily interested in playing baseball but there is an infield full of dirt. We’ll get to that later.

Slugger gets to the field and he is ready to talk. He likes to tell me where he’s going to go on vacation, where his family wanted to go originally before Corona palooza, and how his family came to that conclusion. I listen as intently as I can. There are other children coming up to me wanting to know the batting order. One of the players (The Union Guy) wants to know how long this is going to be. He needs to eat dinner and doesn’t really want to be at the field too long, or at all for that matter. I’ll tell you about him later.

Slugger is always asking me when he’s going to hit. “Is it my turn now? Is it my turn now? How about now?” I tell him not yet.

Slugger will finally get his chance to bat. I show him where to stand, where to put his feet. He’s standing next to me. I point to the line I drew for him. He looks at me. I remind him it’s his turn to hit. He steps up to the plate. God bless him. He hits a weak ground ball that makes it to the pitchers mound. He runs halfway down the line before he finally hears me say “The bat!” He flips the bat behind him. I dodge the missile. It’s a small bat. He’s a small kid but I don’t want to take any chances.

Slugger takes the field. I’m on the field with my players. I position them according to the hitter. There’s no set rules for where the players need to be. There is always three or four players wanting to play first base. The “pitcher” and shortstop draw their own bases so they can have one too. I’m constantly calling Slugger’s name. His attention is on his father, standing on the other side of the fence, a bird flying overhead, grass growing. Anything but the game at hand.

Slugger’s favorite activity is tracing in the dirt. He likes to practice writing his name. He’ll draw pictures. I’ve had to deflect a couple of ground balls that would have bruised his ankles. His latest feat was showing me how he could bury himself up to his ankles in the dirt. That’s great, Slugger. Here comes another ground ball.

When Slugger does get a ball, sometimes he’ll throw it. Sometimes he’ll roll it to the first baseman. Sometimes he’ll just run it over. He’s into Cardio… And it gives him a chance to talk to one of the teammates. There’s not enough of that on the bench.

Slugger likes to show me his facemask. He likes to tell me about the close calls he has before the game. Like the time he thought he lost his hat but then he remembered it was by his door with the rest of his stuff because he didn’t want to be late to the game. He was reminding himself about the game all day. Sometimes it’s his glove. Sometimes it’s his uniform. You never know will Slugger but he’ll fill you in.

He’s a gamer. He’s a kid who doesn’t quit. If you had nine Sluggers on your team, you wouldn’t have to worry about hustle or attitude.

T-Ball Basics

Like you, Corona screwed a lot of things up with my family. Loyal readers of my heartfelt stories know the challenges faced when it came to homeschooling the Miracles of Christ. You may also recall the fun times when I coached not one, but two baseball teams last spring. Due to Coronapalooza, our season got pushed back to the first week of August and like most T-ball teams, this crop of kiddos comes with their challenges as we tackle the fundamentals.

Given where we are with this whole pandemic, I’m guessing we’re lucky to be doing this at all. We’re slowly easing back into group settings and six kids on a baseball diamond seems manageable. Even when they are in their extended dugout, the tikes are able to keep a safe distance. When our team is up at the plate, my attention is divided between the dugout, the batter, and the baserunners. I’m making sure the batters hands are in the right position. I’m making sure the batter has a level swing. I’m making sure everyone is keeping a safe distance in the dugout.

I also have to make sure the runner on first doesn’t run after the ball. That’s happened. The runner chases the ball, picks it up and will try to throw it. I tell them to not pick it up. They then look around for a fielder to hand it too. If these kids don’t make it in baseball, they certainly have a solid grip on etiquette and manners.

We wear masks on the field. Again, I need to multitask. One fielder is chewing on their mask. Another is making a pretty sand mound… And then there is our future Major Leaguer. This kid doesn’t have an agent but they are able to make sure they have ample water breaks in the middle of the inning. It gets hot out there and they need a drink maybe every other batter. And what happens when you drink? You got it. Said future union dues-payer likes to make sure they are able to use the bathroom as often as they can. Sometimes, I will remind this player they just got a water break and how can they need another one already. That’s when Marvin Miller remembers he hasn’t used the bathroom yet.

Yes. It’s been a rewarding season. I’m still reminding kids to use the gloves they are already wearing instead of trying to catch the ball with their bare hands. Although catching with their bare hands is a small improvement. Some still run away hiding their faces when the ball comes to them.