Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Mostly Proud Father

I had a very almost awesome, mostly exciting experience as a father the other night that left me half beaming with pride.

Son Number One, the oldest of the three, is seven years old. He’s on a seven and eight-year-old baseball team this year, and he is most assuredly in over his head. He is on the young side of the roster in the first place, but add to that the fact that he could care less if he is any good at baseball, and you have a kid who should really still be playing with the six-year-olds. He enjoys playing for the most part, but the internal drive and fire to be the best player he can be is completely missing. He strikes out, and runs back to the dugout with a smile on his face, just as happy as can be.

Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not the kind of dad that needs his kids to be all-stars. In fact, I have a “better living through mediocrity” philosophy when it comes to kids’ sports. I end up with a lot more free time if they stay middle of the road, athletically speaking. When you have an all-star, all of a sudden every single one of your weekends is spoken for with one tournament of champions or another. To that, I say no thanks.

That being said, I would like my eldest boy to be slightly more into the game of baseball than he seems to be. It doesn’t seem to faze him in the slightest that almost every other kid on his team can hit, field, and throw better than he can. He’s still having fun, though, and that’s what counts in my book.

So, anyway, the other night he had the game of his life. His usual M.O. at the plate is to swing at the first three pitches, no matter what they look like. Also, when he swings at them, he makes sure that the ball is already in the catcher’s mitt before starting the bat around. It makes for a pretty entertaining at-bat when the kid pitching bounces it in the dirt twice before it crosses the plate, the catcher loses it between his legs and is scrambling for the ball behind him, and then the batter swings. We’re having him tested for near-sightedness, far-sightedness, and blindness.

His first at-bat went as per usual. Three bad pitches, three late swings, and one happy kid running back to the bench. On his second at-bat, however, it was time for the coach to be pitching, so he got some balls that actually came across the plate. Out of nowhere, the planets aligned, the stars crossed, the bat started moving at the right time, and Son Number One ripped one up the middle past the second baseman for a single that moved his runner from first to third. Standing there on first base, beaming proudly at me, was the first glimmer I had seen all season of an honest-to-goodness baseball player. I was beaming back at him from the stands just as proud as I could possibly be. I was glowing.

It didn’t last long.

In the middle of the next kid’s at-bat, my superstar future Cal Ripken was not poised with one foot on the bag, stretched out and ready to run to second base. He was, instead, standing with both feet in the middle of the bag, facing away from second base, looking alternately at me and his base coach, holding his groin with both hands, hopping up and down, and generally giving us the universal “I’ve gotta pee really bad!” signals. When I suggested from the stands that he might want to hold it, his pained expression was replaced with a look of abject terror that immediately caused his base coach to call a pinch runner out of the dugout. Off went Son Number One like a rocket, straight off the field, through the dugout, and heading for the restrooms, abandoning what might have very well been his one base running opportunity of the year. I hung my head, and climbed out of the stands to follow him to the potty.

He was in the door to one of the restrooms well ahead of me, and when I opened the door to follow him, I was prepared to give a rather stern talking to about holding it next time in the middle of the game to a boy with his pants around his ankles, peeing into a toilet. What I found, however, was a heartbroken little boy, crying next to the potty, still fully clothed. He hadn’t made it in time. My seven-year-old had peed his pants. My heart melted, and I immediately switched to consoling dad mode. He was embarrassed, and terrified that everyone would know.

While I worked on stopping the tears and calming him down, I pieced together what had happened. As it turns out, the required athletic cup can backfire on this age group. While it is meant to be a protective device, it very much limits the wearer’s ability to “squeeze it off” in a pee emergency. Live and learn.

At the beginning of the year when we received my son’s uniform, I took one look at the pants and said to my wife, “You’re kidding, right?” White pants with red pin stripes, combined with red socks, navy blue jerseys, and black hats. They sort of look like the miniature Harlem Globetrotters of baseball. That night, however, I was thrilled with the white pants. After an initial examination of the damp young man, I was very happy to report to him that it was impossible to tell that his pants were wet. He would have to live with the fact that his underwear was squishy, but the general public would never know anything was amiss. The white pants had saved the day. We wiped off the tears, put a smile on our faces, and raced back to the field.

Some kid on the other team had made an unassisted triple play at third base right about the time that we had hit the restroom, so Son Number One’s entire team had already taken the field, and they were yelling for him to hurry up. Due to his late arrival, he was placed at the pitcher’s mound next to the coach instead of his usual spot in left field. Besides the fact that he ran out to the mound with his feet spread wide apart, waddle-running like his pants were wet, you never would have been able to tell his pants were wet. Crisis averted!

I had gone from super-proud and excited to less-than-thrilled and annoyed to empathetic and consoling to relieved and happy in the span of two minutes. As I sat back down in the stands, I was physically tired from all the emotions. I had barely caught my breath when I was back up on my feet, cheering wildly and beaming with pride again. For the second time that night the planets and stars all fell into place. The batter hit a dribbling ground ball back at the mound. Son Number One charged the ball, fielded it effortlessly, and pivoting on his right foot, threw a rifle-shot to first base to get the batter out by half a step. I have never seen him throw a ball that fast or that accurately. I was glowing once again.

The game ended shortly after that, and I bought him a celebratory Icee at the snack bar. We had a serious discussion about remembering to go potty before the game from now on, and more excited talk from his proud father about his hit and his play at the mound. We also decided that since it was a late game and his mom was home with his younger brothers, we would tell her all about his highlights, but keep the part about the pee to ourselves. We figured it was guy stuff, and since no one else knew, she didn’t need to know either. So if you happen to see him, just high-five him for the hit and the out. You don’t know anything about any accident.

True to form for my not-so-sports-oriented seven-year-old, however, if you ask him about that game today, he’ll probably remember only one thing. The Icee.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2012 Marc Schmatjen

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  1. This post really made me need to pee. But luckily, I made it to the bathroom in time! Whew. At six months pregnant, this is kind of a big deal. I have a lot of sympathy for six year olds right now. :p


    Yay for picking up some baseball skills! It turns out that the point of the game has been sinking in, even if you didn't realize it!

  2. Thanks, Inder! I remember my wife running for the bathroom at the drop of a hat, sometimes two and three times in five minutes. I have to pee really bad! No, wait, I don't anymore. Yes I do!!!!
    Good times!