Sunday, February 26, 2012

Dream Birthday Celebration

J's birthday was at the beginning of the month.  Originally he wanted to have a big blowout party to celebrate turning 16.  Hubby and I were okay with that plan, but then we came up with an alternative that appealed to J far more than a big party.  A trip to UF to see a college baseball game.  We let him invite a few friends; he chose his girlfriend A, his best friend R, and of course, Coach C.  N and A stayed home with my mom while my dad joined us.  We made the drive to UF and met Coach C for lunch prior to the game.  J has been to several pro games to see his beloved Yankees play, but it was the first time he'd attended a college game.  Actually, it was the first time any of us, with the exception of Coach C, had been to a college game.  The day was beautiful weather wise, the game was excellent, and everyone had a good time.  Following that game, we attended a game at the high school where Coach C is a coach.  Our friends K and K were able to join us with their three kids, and again, we all had a good time.  Oh, both the Gators and Coach C's team won their games!

The best part of the day for me was watching J enjoy himself so much.  And seeing the dreams so clearly reflected in his eyes.  Sitting in the stadium I know J was picturing himself down on the field, living his dream.  He's worked hard for the past 27 weeks on his training program and hopefully yesterday inspired him to continue his efforts at achieving his goals.  Coach C did bust him for slacking some the past few weeks on his eating program, which made me laugh, and J vow to make a renewed commitment to not only his eating plan, but his entire program.  If he continues to work hard and stay focused, in a few short years we could all be attending another college baseball game.  Only this time, J will be down on the field, playing his heart out while all the people who love and support him cheer him on from the stands.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Differing Opinions

During J's years in baseball, we've encountered many different coaches, players, and parents.  Naturally, there have been some we've liked and some we haven't.  I'll go so far as to say there have been a few I absolutely could not stand.  One of the challenges of being a baseball parent is trying to find the right team and coach.  Not all players will be suited to every team or every coach.  This can be for a variety of reasons, personality differences, coaching styles, playing styles, etc.  The trick is to find the right balance for your son and help him make the best decisions he can for his future in baseball.  While trying to find that balance, many times we've run up against other players and parents with differing opinions on particular teams or coaches.  This first happened when J was still playing Little League, around age 10.  My dad was still his coach back then.  He and J loved it, and at the time, it was the best possible situation for J.  My dad was the type of coach whose main focus was teaching the fundamentals of the game and the kids having fun.  He truly didn't care if they won or lost as long as the kids came away with knowledge and love of the game of baseball.  Some parents didn't care for that philosophy and made their feelings known.  Loudly and often rudely.  There were times my mother and I would be sitting in the stands during games  having to listen to someone beside us say unkind things about my dad.  It hurt us, it hurt J, and it hurt my dad.  I had some people be so bold as to tell me to my face I was making a mistake letting J continue to be coached by my dad.  I learned to just ignore it and continue to do what I felt was best for my son.  Once J hit age 13, my dad stopped coaching.  He still helped out but he didn't want to have the responsibility of managing a team anymore.  The next few years were okay.  Then J got to high school and the coaches there were nice enough, but not tough enough in my opinion.  There were times it was very frustrating and we spent a lot of time discussing it in our own home.   I refrained from sharing my opinion with other parents at the field because I fully realized that many of them likely had a different viewpoint than I did.  This season, too, there have been many discussions between hubby and I about the less than savory aspects of high school baseball.   J also has  TP, and well, regular readers of this blog know how we feel about Coach C.  Yet a few times recently, hubby and I have found ourselves in the position of realizing that other parents don't  have the same respect and admiration for Coach C as we do.  And since I love Coach C like one of my own kids, I tend to get fired up, just like I used to when people put down my dad.  Hubby always stays calm and reasonable and never lets his irritation show.  He recently stood calmly listening to another dad tell him why he shouldn't think Coach C is a good coach, all the while thinking to himself, "This will be a funny story to share the next time Coach C is at the house for dinner."  I get a lot more upset when things like this occur, though I've managed to remain diplomatic and bite my tongue during these conversations, while at the same time making my position very clear.  Don't hate on my kid or his coach! I guess the point to this post is that it's normal and okay for us all to have different opinions.  We also all are trying to make the best choices for our son's baseball future.  While doing so, it's important not to put down the choices others are making.  I strive hard not to do that and would hope that all parents would extend the same courtesy.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Number Four

J, like many baseball players, tends to be very superstitious about his number.  I've written previously about the origin of his number, 27.  Unfortunately when school jerseys were handed out this week, there was no number 27.  J's usual back up plan if 27 is not available is to get either number 2 or number 7.  Well, 2 is retired at his school and there was no 7.  At this point he was looking a bit like a deer caught in headlights at the prospect of not having his number.  His next idea was to at least get the number of a Yankee player, past or present.  He tried on number 14 and still didn't seem happy.  Then the coach pulled out the number 4 and I suggested to J that he try that one.  4 was the number of a very famous Yankee, Lou Gehrig, whose story has significance to our family.  My grandmother had ALS, or Lou Gehrig's Disease as it is commonly known.  Gehrig's story is both sad and inspirational, and it's one that J has known from a young age.

Sadly, my grandmother passed away nearly 21 years ago, so J never knew her.  She and I were extremely close and it's always made me sad that my children never got to know her.  I know she would have loved them dearly.  I also believe that she watches over us all and is with us always in spirit.  So when J tried on the number 4 jersey and said he liked the way it fit and that he'd take that one, I took it as a sign.  A sign that the great grandmother he never knew is watching over him and will be with him every time he steps onto the field.   4 may not be his usual number, but it will do quite nicely for this season.  And even once he's back playing for TP with a 27 on his back, I know that my grandmother will still be watching over him as he continues on his journey.

Music in the Middle

This week I had the opportunity to accompany N's class on a field trip to the symphony.  It was a special program that the symphony puts on for fifth graders every year.  N loves music, so he was particularly excited to hear the symphony perform.  During the performance I sat behind and a little to the right of N.  I was able to observe him during the performance and what I saw touched my heart.  He was completely absorbed in the music, never taking his eyes from the conductor and musicians.  N's love of music has been growing steadily these past several months.  He loves performing in both his school choir and the community children's chorus.  He received a keyboard for Christmas and has been asking to take piano lessons.  After hearing the symphony he has become interested in learning more about the various instruments.  It makes me happy to see N finding an interest that brings him such pleasure.  As the middle child he often times feels a little lost, struggling to find his niche, the way J has with baseball.  Music is giving N not only the enjoyment of singing, but the confidence and courage to embrace life to the fullest as he discovers who he is and what dreams he wants to pursue.  It won't surprise me if music ends being one of those dreams.