An Exciting, Fun-Filled, Week for Daddy

I continue on my way to the dentist. That’s right. I have a dentist appointment. It’s important that I keep my teeth healthy so I can keep eating steak and burgers.

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It’s always an exciting time at our house. That happens with four kids in the house and one at college. Sometimes, it’s a little more exciting than Wife and I would like.

Photo by Andres Ayrton on Pexels.com

Brave daddies and mommies everywhere have rejoiced and thanked the school gods for delivering their children to the Land of Learning for a few hours. This too-brief respite provides pestered parents everywhere a chance to get things done, even if those things include streaming an episode they’ve been wanting to watch for days.

Our domestic roster has children in college, high school, middle school, and elementary school. It’s the educational perfecta of parenting.

I want to give a little insight to the fun we had on one particular week. This was a time of obligations and responsibilities that involved my children. It was days of driving and hustling that made me glad for my CD collection (Yes, I still have CDs).

Monday

We begin our fun-filled week the same way we start every morning. The Oppressed and I walk to the bus stop. This gives us a chance to catch up on things. She asks me what my day has in store for me and what I’m going to do while she is tortured – I mean – in school. She also fills me in on all the drama on the bus and in school. Middle school has opened her eyes to how petty people can be and how they need to share every last detail of something with the people of homeroom and the lunch table. My daughter makes sure she doesn’t miss any details when she’s sharing with me.

Slugger has a doctor’s appointment. It’s a follow-up to a follow-up. I think his doctor is eyeing some investment property up Lake Winnipesaukee. This calls for a little shuffle in the afternoon chores and responsibilities. The appointment means Slugger won’t be taking the bus home. He’s getting out of school early. He doesn’t mind this at all, so he’s willing to suck it up and deal with the small inconvenience in his schedule.

The doctor’s appointment means I won’t be able to pick up The Boy from school. This will cut into our two-minute conversation when we drive home. (The Boy doesn’t allow me to walk). This means The Gaggle steps in and walks him home. They don’t drive. The Boy needs to put on his big-boy pants and hoof it to the house. I’m sure to hear about it when I return home.

Tuesday

Tuesday morning begins with the usual hustle and bustle of getting children up and getting them to the bus stop. After the bus leaves with two of the cherubs, I head back to the house for a few precious minutes of quiet time with the dog before The Boy makes his presence known.

Breakfast. Back upstairs to get dressed. I look a few things over while the child gets ready for his day at school. We arrive at school; the boy departs the car. I continue on my way to the dentist. That’s right. I have a dentist appointment. It’s important that I keep my teeth healthy so I can keep eating steak and burgers.

A little something from Widowmaker Brewery because I was a good boy at the dentist.

The weather’s a little iffy. I’m wondering if soccer practice is going to happen for The Boy, but that’s in the afternoon. Right now, I’m focused on making it to the dentist. It’s a successful visit. God bless the hygienist for having Bob Seger playing in the room.

If you’ll just come with me, you’ll see the beauty of Tuesday afternoon.

The Moody Blues

The Boy’s soccer practice was originally scheduled for Tuesday afternoon, but Mother Nature had other plans. We underwent a deluge of rain. It was nice to see the rain given the dry summer we had, but after the game they had on the previous weekend, a practice soon after the game wouldn’t hurt.

Our coach can’t control the weather, though, and the practice is moved to Friday.

Wednesday

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Wife and I had some quality time together on Wednesday. Our day began at school where we had a meeting for one of our students. Nothing was wrong. They were transferring and everyone wanted to make sure the transition had been a smooth one so far.

Wednesday night meant an Open House at the High School, where I got to meet Slugger’s teachers. Everyone raved about my boy and how much they enjoy having him in their classed. I went home and passed the glad tidings on to Slugger, who responded to the compliments with grunts and shrugs.

Thursday

Thursday was a day of trying to catch up with things around the house. I did the best I could. There were some things to get at the grocery store. People need to eat.

Four kids at four different schools. It’s fun.

It was an interesting day for me. I needed to shop and catch up on things around the house. There always seems to be things that pop up on you when the kids get out of school early. This was one of those times. Luckily, I was able to be back in time to collect the children. They, of course, enjoyed the free afternoon.

Children got home and got through their homework. Once that was complete, it was off to the familiar refuge of YouTube and other assorted screens. I spent the afternoon cooking dinner. I needed to get this done earlier than usual as there was another Open House at another school that evening. Four kids at four different schools. It’s fun.

This time I’m at the elementary school. I get a look at The Boy’s classroom. This is always an interesting and exciting time. It allows me to find out what’s going on while he’s in school enriching his mind and preparing himself as the future of our country. I see his desk. It’s quite the sight to see. I ask him about the desk when I get back that night. He assures me it never looks that bad and it will be taken care of and righted as soon as he sets foot in school tomorrow.

Coronavirus Test

A friend needed this.

As I’ve said before, it’s been an interesting week. It gets better. There’s been a prescription that’s been waiting to be picked up at the pharmacy. On my way home, I take an opportunity to stop at the pharmacy and pick up the prescription. While I’m on my way to the store, I hear my phone buzzing. I can’t see what’s happening, after all. I’m driving, and it would be irresponsible for me to look at my phone.

Their house isn’t far from where I live, and it means I get to do a little extra driving. Everyone wins.

I get to the store and check my phone immediately upon parking. Friends who live nearby may have a Coronavirus case in the home. There is a call for help. If anyone can spare or find a test kit, these people would be most grateful. The thread soon fills with answers from people seeing what they can do. I write back, informing them I just happen to be at the pharmacy and can pick up a couple of tests for them. Their house isn’t far from where I live, and it means I get to do a little extra driving. Everyone wins.

I end the night with a beer, go to bed, and wake up to Friday. Friday was so exciting it’s getting its own post.

Getting Kids Ready for a New Soccer Season

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Get Kids Ready for Soccer

More excitement in the sports section of my family. A new season means a new sport for The Boy. It’s been football for the past two autumns. This time, the child has decided to change gears and play youth soccer. We’re getting kids ready for a new soccer season.

I was never much for soccer, although I have learned to appreciate it in recent years. My children playing also gives it an added appeal. This is my son’s first soccer season. I tried to give him a little insight to the game. He wasn’t interested.

It’s a season full of “firsts” for The Boy this time. This is his first time playing soccer. He’s not playing with any of his friends. They’re either playing football or not playing a sport at all. I told him this could be a chance for him to make new friends. He wasn’t so sure when he heard that.

There are some adjustments on The Boy’s part. After two football seasons, he’s moved to soccer, and he can’t use his hands. I’ve constantly reminded him of this since it’s pretty much the only thing I know about soccer; That and the games are usually low-scoring.

The first order of business for me was to read the coach’s email and see what is needed for games and practices. I knew my son needed a water bottle. We’d figure out the rest at the first practice.

Soccer Practice

We were at the first practice of the season. The Boy needed cleats, and believe me, we looked everywhere when it came to finding cleats. The coach said not to worry about it since it was only the first practice of the season.

Soccer practice

I had a couple of days before the game to find the cleats. It became a mission for me and The Boy. We needed to get the cleats anyway, but going to one store, then two stores, then five stores and coming up empty-handed added an element of adventure and challenge that was not easy for us.

I think one problem was The Boy’s size. He was at the top of Boys’ sizes and the bottom of Youth’s. Being in between made it a little difficult to find something to fit him. We did find a pair of cleats from time to time, but what we found was too small for him. He insisted he could squeeze his feet in there because it was only a couple of hours.

“No, Joe Jackson,” I said to him. “We’ll find shoes that will fit you, and you don’t need to play in pain.”

He insisted he could squeeze his feet in there because it was only a couple of hours. I said, “No, Joe Jackson. We’ll find you shoes that will fit you, and you don’t need to play in pain.”

He wasn’t happy with my decision, but he went along with it.

Finding a Store for Soccer Cleats

In the middle of our cleat-seeking adventures, I learn of a store that’s not too far away from us. I don’t mind taking the drive, especially with one of my children. We get to the store. It’s a soccer store. Dedicated to soccer and nothing else. Only soccer.

The store isn’t too far away, but it is far enough that we won’t be able to make it there in time for cleats to wear for the first game of the season. I thought it would only be one practice without cleats, now it looks like it will only be one practice and one game (hopefully).

Driving to the First Soccer Game of the Season Together

The season-opener is on the road. We need to be in the car and on our way in time for a quick practice/refresher session before the first game of the season.

Wife isn’t home. She needs to take care of some things that day, but she will be making every attempt to be at the game. It’s late in the day, so she feels good about making it.

Despite our best attempts to get everything done and out of the way before the game, we are behind schedule. I send a message to the coach and inform him we are on our way but will not be on time for the pre-game drills.

While driving, I keep an eye on my phone in case there’s anything from the coach on our way. Sure enough there is something from the coach.

There is a notification on my phone. I need to pull over. After pulling over, I look at my phone. I rub my eyes and look at the phone again. Apparently, the game was never scheduled for Saturday as the schedule erroneously said. It’s scheduled for Sunday. On one hand, the schedule change cuts into beers and football scheduled for Sunday. On the other hand, it means we won’t be late, after all.

Finding the Right Pair of Soccer Cleats

I contact wife and tell her about the actual schedule. We get back home and hit the reset button. There is suddenly some extra time to find the cleats and take care of things around the house.

We get back into the car later that afternoon. We make it to the store. It is an enormous building dedicated to soccer and only soccer. We look at the cleats on the wall. There is a pair that look like it could pass muster. We ask to see the cleats in The Boy’s size.

The nice person working at the store retreats to the storeroom and returns with a box. The Boy tries them on. The cleats are a little big, but he likes the look and the extra room for his feet. He’ll grow as the season goes along, so that extra space will come in handy.

Soccer cleats for The Boy.

Getting Dad and Kids Ready for the Soccer Game

The Boy is getting ready for his game, and I need to do the same as a fan.

For me, watching my son’s games means I need to wear attire that matches my son’s team. I’m always looking for shirts that match the uniforms. It’s my own special way of supporting the team.

Decked out for the game.

This is soccer, though, and soccer fans are always decked out in team jerseys, scarfs, and face paint. I was able to find a shirt that matched The Boy’s, and Wife has a scarf that has our town colors. We arrive at the game. I’m in the team colors. We take our seats. I look around, and I’m disappointed there is no concession stand selling snacks. I’m hungry.

Wife and I take in the game. It’s a tough one, as they lose, 2-1. There was some excitement, and The Boy made some great plays out there. I’m looking forward to his next game. He’ll have a practice before that, and that will give the team a chance to work on their skills before that. On both days, I’ll be looking forward to watching my son.

Follow me on Twitter for more insights on parenting and how to fake it as an adult. @bravedaddy

What Happens when Coaching Kids in Flag Football

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Photo by Kampus Production on Pexels.com

Alas, nothing lasts forever. Seasons change. We had a nice extended summer in these parts, but now it seems like things are returning to normal. November is bringing colder temperatures. I’ve had to scrape my windshield before taking The Oppressed and The Boy to school.

There are other seasons, of course. Sports seasons. As you may already know, are a part of our family’s schedule and routine. If I’m lucky, I will coach a team. This gives me a chance to spend some more time with my children and try to teach them something and help them out.

Coaching the Kids

This season gave me another chance to be on the field with The Boy and a few other children. I was an assistant coach for the flag football season. There was a lot of raw talent on our team. We had kids who wanted to play, kids who wanted the ball. We had kids who didn’t understand there were five players on the field and just one ball to go around.

Another flag
football season

In addition to our needing to explain to the gridiron greats how to share the football, we also needed to temper some of the players’ enthusiasm. For instance, if we were about to throw the ball, some of our own players would shout, “Pass!” as the play started. We loved the enthusiasm, but the head coach and I thought it would be a good idea to “surprise” the other team when it came to what play we were going to run.

Of course, there was no evidence to support this, but don’t question a kid’s gut.

Luckily, we were able to convince players to surprise our opponents. Other challenges for us included kids who wanted the ball. Again, rules called for only one ball per team and there were five players on the field. The head coach did a great job of spreading the ball around. Some players were more patient than others. While some waited their turn, other players wanted to know how much longer they had to wait before their turn to run or pass the ball. Some players were certain that others were getting more turns than they were. Of course, there was no evidence to support this, but don’t question a kid’s gut.

Dealing with the Injuries

Practice was fun. We had to remind some kids we were playing flag football and not tackle football. Some kids thought it was fun and cool to maybe tackle or physically block (totally against the rules). This was fun until they were the ones getting tackled or blocked, then it was mean, and people were breaking the rules.

Sometimes there was a little confusion when a play was being run. Sometimes kids would run into each other, or trip over someone or something. Again, some were convinced people were trying to sabotage them. Balls were thrown or spiked.

I jump in with my coaching experience and expertise and ask what’s wrong. Does it hurt and have a temperature? Kids are absolutely belligerent as they fill me in on the unwarranted attack on their person. It’s wrong and people should be punished. Our innocent victims demand satisfaction. I ask if we should hand out an equally harsh punishment for the accident that occurred when the victim ran into someone on the previous play. They try to hid their smile as they are reminded of what happened earlier, but they can’t and they go back to the huddle.

Everyone has a Job, Kids and Coaches

We try to make sure everyone has a chance to play every position. One assistant coach spent the entire game tallying plays and making sure everyone got in and got ample rest. My job was to make sure those who were on the sidelines were ready to play when their turn came. Some were ready. Sometimes someone was at the concession stand or going to their parents for a drink. The water bottles were on the sidelines, but they were convinced the parents had better drinks.

It was a good season overall for everyone. The players hopefully learned a few things about playing as a team. The coaches hopefully learned something about patience and working with kids. The Boy and I spent some time together driving to and from practices and games. He got a chance to see his friends again outside of school. I got to talk to some more adults.

Everyone played and everyone had fun. My head coach gave a gift card to me and the other assistant at the end of the season, so some retail therapy to Dick’s Sporting Goods will be in order very soon. We all get to recover in time for a new season and new challenges.

Ready for action.

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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?

Street Hoops with Children

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There is a friend I would visit from time to time. I am sorry to say we don’t see each other as much as we used to. There was a time we would be at each other’s house often and sometimes I would watch his kids. Sometimes I would visit and my friend and I would play pick-up basket ball with one of the children. We’ll call this person “Wilt”. There would be another person there. Four of us. We would play two-on-two.

“Wilt” had a unique style of playing basketball. It was a fairly simple style, really. Wilt would get the ball from me. He would dribble. He would run here. Run there. He would go to the other side of the street. I would be under the hoop. Wide open. “Wilt!” I would yell. “Wilt! I’m open!” Wilt would continue to run around the block. He would run inside the house, still dribbling. Come outside with his bus pass, leave his street and take the bus to his school. He would run back to his house. His defender has backed away from him and now I am being double-teamed. Does Wilt shoot? Of course not! There are three guys under the hoop. Two of them are on me. One of my defenders leaves me and goes back to Wilt, who is heading to the neighboring town in hopes of getting a better shot.

I’m starting to understand why there’s a shot-clock.

I tell Wilt it’s going to be dark soon. I tell him Christmas is coming. Maybe Santa can get him an assist for Christmas. He shoots. He misses. The other team gets the ball. The ball goes out of bounds. Our ball. I’m taking it out.

I’m at the top of the key. I yell to Wilt and tell him to go to the hoop. “Wilt!” I yell. “Hoop!” Wilt just stands there off to the side of the hoop. He’s not moving. He just stands there and stares at me.

“Hoop!” I yell again but to no avail. Wilt Chamberlain is just standing there. He doesn’t have the ball. Why should he move anywhere on the court?

“Hoop!” I yell again. He doesn’t move. I heave up a shot. I’m hoping the ball in the air will get Wilt to move. He just stands there with his defender. My defender jumps up and tries to block the ball. He can’t. The ball gets by him. The ball sails in a majestic arc and barely misses the rim. It bounces out of bounds. Their ball.

“Augh!” Wilt yells. He grabs his hair. He stomps his feet. He is incensed. His eyeballs are about to pop out of his face. He is furious.

“What are you doing?!” Wilt demands.

“Naismith,” I say to him. “How many times did I say, ‘hoop’?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?” he asks.

“I wanted you to go to the hoop,” I explain to him.

“Then you should have said, ‘Under the hoop!'”

He stomps off, furious at my painfully obvious lack of basketball and communication skills. I look at my friend, his father, who just puts his hands up and says, “Don’t look at me. I deal with this everyday.”

Marvin the Foreman

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Sometimes you see kids and you just know what they’re going to do when they grow up. Coaching youth sports gives me insight to plenty of kids. I watch some and I just think to myself what this one could do with a little molding. I see others, like the subject of this entry and think to myself, “Good luck, World.”

I have one player on my team this year who happens to be one of the kids in my neighborhood. So, I already have a feel for his personality and what he will bring to that proverbial “table”. I am also friends with his parents and I love relaying the nuggets this child utters to them from time to time. His dad tells me he’s going to be a foreman when he grows up. I can’t say I doubt that.

I’m going to call this child “Marvin” (Google “Marvin Miller” and you’ll understand why.) Marvin is a kid who makes sure you don’t forget about him. Even after you tell him where he’s playing or when he’s going to bat, He will ask you if it’s his turn yet, or why he can’t play over there. I’ll tell him it’s because there’s already someone over there. He throws his hands in the air and rolls his eyes. “Oh my God!” he exclaims. “Why can’t I just be over there?!” He mutters a few more things that I can’t quite understand because he is walking away and because I have other crises on the infield that require my attention.

Ready for work. A game? Not so much.

Marvin doesn’t miss much, especially when it comes to a break from the action. Immediately after it’s time to take the field, Marvin needs water. I remind Marvin he just had water and he should have had his water while he was on the bench, which, technically, he did have. He thinks for a second and says, “I have to go to the bathroom!'” I get his father’s attention and Marvin and Dad make their way to the bathroom (second time this evening.) Marvin returns and is unhappy to see his coveted position (whichever one he can’t get) has already been claimed by another player. Hands go up. Eye roll. The injustice. The humanity. Why? Why?!

Alex Cora never had it so hard.

Heading for the Homestretch

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Another day of forced fun.

Our T-ball season draws to a close. I am proud of the improvements my team made over this brief and unique season. If anything, I hope these troopers will take at least one thing they learned this year and apply it to their game as they grow as people and baseball players.

There were plenty of teachable moments and growing pains this year. I needed to remind players that if they were on one side of the field, there is no need to run to the other side and chase the ball. This was especially important for the first baseman, who somehow thought they could catch and throw at the same time.

Speaking of first base, that position taught my team the importance of sharing. Everyone wanted to play first base and there were usually two or three people congregating and explaining why they needed to play first for that inning. The future union rep was always in the middle of the discussion and explained why everyone else was wrong.

Everyone got out and got some exercise, including me. I got my share of aerobics in by dodging wayward bats and balls coming in without warning. I was also running after the pack of children who needed to tackle each other so someone could throw the ball. Ah, yes. Throwing. How could I forget my little shotput thrower. Every ball hit to them was a chance to show off his arm. It was a good arm, I have to admit. I was constantly reminding Kid Kannon that the object was to throw the ball to first base and not see how many trees they could clear.

The Boy was on my team this year. He has joined The Oppressed in giving up hitting for life. He has no use for it. Hates it and would like to see baseball banned from the world forever.

Yes, it certainly has been a fun-filled year. No more chats with individual players about what they’re having for dinner that evening. No more rundowns of how their parents are at another field to watch a sibling play. No more close calls about how they couldn’t find their glove at home but they remembered they had it in their room and they ran to get it and still made it to the field. No more knowing glances from the other coaches. No more being reminded by my players of who and where there players are. I go back to dealing with five children and continue to show some semblance of organization and balance.

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