Monday, May 07, 2012

For Two Short Days, My Life Is Perfect

That's right, I'm was fucking happy for two full days.   For those that aren't aware, I am on the verge of a nervous breakdown of late.  The post-tax season wind down never came.  I went from the previously discussed nightmare right into the preparation of mortgage applications and coop board packages for an apartment I am trying to buy.

The process has been driving me crazy.  The brokers are morons and, unfortunately, I'm doing this alone.  My wife has offered to help, and she has been stellar in gathering whatever I ask her to gather but, at the end of the day, the pages of forms and schedules are my area of expertise so I'm doing them all.

To add to the misery, my secretary quit at the end of tax season.  Apparently, having to work until 7:30, two days in a row, was too much for her to handle.

Anyway, back to my misery.  I'm trying to run my business, gather all this paperwork, find a new secretary, and deal with being a husband and father and, honestly, it's not working for me any more.

My wife and my father both pointed out that I seemed to be on the verge of collapse, physically and mentally.  My wife asked if, perhaps, I shouldn't get myself a vallium or two.  I honestly don't know the answer to that.

That's how fucked up I am.

So, how did I have two glorious days?

All thanks to my children.

Let's start with Saturday.  I was tasked with taking my son to his soccer game, as I do every Saturday.  Unfortunately, this game was at 8:45 am.  It takes an hour to get him up, fed, dressed, and to the field, which is a short drive away.  We get to the field and the weather is not good.  It's going to drizzle on us for sure.  It's cold and nasty and damp and the kids start playing and my son is doing his usual best and by the half they're down 5-1.

I'm talking to my son about the game, going over some things I noticed and he said he thinks they'll do better in the second half.

Not only did they do better, they won.  My son scored two goals, was a major force on defense and, when the coach would call for him to come out and take a rest, he refused.  This is my son we're talking about.  He loves taking breaks.  He would, normally, be running along the sideline, asking for a break.

So, to see him refusing to rest was a treat.  When the game was over, and he found out his second goal was the game winner, he was thrilled.

On the ride back home, I asked him why he suddenly refused to exit the game and he said "we were coming back and I was helping and I didn't want to sit on the sidelines and watch us lose."

Fucking hell, that's the 6 year old equivalent of "GIMME THE DAMN BALL!"

We get home and he showers and heads out with my wife to get a hair cut.  I try and nap while watching the Rangers lose.  Big let down, the only one all weekend.

My daughter spends the time I'm home reading and finishing her homework so that she doesn't have too much to do on Sunday.  So responsible of her.

My son comes home and we all head off to Citi Field to see the Mets play.

On the way there, a bird takes a dump on me.  Well, almost on me.  This was one of those massive, liquid paper jobs that landed, with a splotch, at my feet.  There were two tiny drops, presumably spray, on my jacket, and nothing else.

Big fucking win.

We get to the stadium and find out seats.  Not too bad but, given the state of the Mets, we move down and wind up about ten rows from the Mets dugout.  Insane seats.  Great game.  Mets win, for a change but the best part of  the game came at the end of the 7th inning.

The Mets were winning and it was getting late.  I suggested we head out so we could hit the store and get souvenirs and whatever crap they wanted to eat, before it got too crowded.

My daughter, of all people, said "no, we can't leave, we need to see them win."

Can't argue with that.

So we stayed.  The stores were too crowded so we wound up not buying anything.  They didn't care.  They had so much fun that they were satisfied with the day, as it was.

We got home, had some food, watched some tv and sent them off to bed.  Sunday was a big day for my son.  Every Sunday he has a doubleheader.  He's on a travel baseball team (little league for pipsqueaks) and his team plays two games each Sunday.

So, we wake up, get him dressed and ready to go and then I get the call from a friend asking if I can take his son and his wife.  I tell my friend I will and then I have another kid needing a ride.  Then another mother and son and suddenly I'm driving my friend's car (it's much bigger than mine), filled with 4 screaming boys, two moms and me.

In the first game, my son gets up in the second inning with runners on first and second.  He proceeds to hit a double that, if he were faster, would have been a double.  Two runs scored.  The smile on his face was priceless.  He stood on second, that mile wide smile filling his face.

A few innings later, with the team up by one, he gets up with the bases loaded.

He takes one off the helmet.

Everyone freezes.  He shakes his head a bit and looks at me, as if he's asking "what do I do?"

I tell him to take the base, which he does.

I'm standing by first base and I ask if he's ok and he says he's fine.

His biggest fucking fear, getting hit (again) and he does, in the head, and he barely noticed it.

Turns out that RBI was the game winner.  My son's line was one hit, one strike out and one ball to the melon.  Three RBIs and his very first game ball.

Some of his soccer teammates are on the baseball team and parents were coming up to me asking what we started feeding him to produce a soccer and baseball star such as this.  I was so proud.

And the day was only just starting.

After a lunch that had him talking smack like a fucking pro, he started getting ready for the second game.  He's talking home runs and RBIs and all kinds of heroic feats and sit him down and explain that singles are all he needs to do.  I tell him to stop swinging at every pitch and pay attention to the ball as it comes in.  He says he is and I go back and forth with him, explaining that there's nothing wrong with taking a pitch, or drawing a walk, so long as he doesn't just stand there hoping to be walked before he's called out on strikes.

The game starts the umpire is making horrible calls.  Balls become strikes when we're hitting, strikes become balls when we're pitching.  My son overhears the umpire making dinner plans with the other team's coach and we figure we're doomed.

We score a couple of runs.  It looks like we might wind up 4-0 on the season and then they roar back with enough walks to bring in two runs, tying the game.

The 4th inning is a nail biter, as is the fifth.  We manage to get out of jams in both, thanks to some horrible base running by their team and some excellent fielding by ours.

It's tied at two in the 6, and final inning.  The other team loads the bases and our pitcher is frustrated by the umpire's ever moving strike zone.  He manages to strike out the next two batters and we survive the scare.  We are the home team in this game so we get last licks.  The lead off batter draws a walk. He steals second, and third. (very easy in the league).  The next batter strikes out.

I tell my son there's a good chance it will come down to him.  I tell him a single will win it.  I tell him a walk will probably also win it because, if he walks, they will have him steal second and when the catcher throws the ball, the guy on third will score.  I tell him to take his time going into the box.  Take his time setting up and don't swing unless it's in his strike zone.

He's got the donut on his bat, rolling it back and forth as his best friend takes strike three.

It's up to him.

As he's walking to the batters box he turns and smiles and says "I got a good feeling about this."

The first pitch is horrible and he swings wildly at it.

He looks at me, I hold my hands up to show him his strike zone.  He lets out a breath and steps back into the batters box.

The pitch is a good one.

He drills it.

He's running to first.  As he crosses first the shortstop throws the ball to the first baseman.  The first baseman was already walking off the field to get away from the stampede of 6, 7 and 8 year old boys screaming and charging at my son who's standing on the bag, smiling at me.

The parents are all cheering and the kids are jumping all over my son.

You'd have thought he just won the world series and the super bowl whilst curing cancer.

I sat back, filled with immense pride, as my son was, for this day, a hero.

The coach called the team into the field to do the handshake thing and then he told my son he now has two game balls.

The parents from the other team congratulated my son on the hit.  The parents of his teammates clapped him on the back and rubbed his head and he was ecstatic.

We drove home and grabbed my wife and daughter to head out for a celebratory dinner.  All during dinner, the parents who weren't at the game (the dads who couldn't make it) were emailing me, congratulating my son on the big hit.  All the kids were talking about it.

We got home and my son, now suffering the ill effects of withdrawal from the adrenaline rush, fell asleep.

The emails kept coming, including new ones from the coaches who wanted my son to know that the hitting drills paid off, that he's becoming the hitter they have been telling him he could be.

And I kept reading them to my wife, the smile growing bigger with each new email.

I'm back in the office today.  The shit that I am saddled with is worse than ever but now I can take a break, think about that hit, and the smile on my boy's face and, for the briefest of moments, I  manage to forget the stress and anguish and a small smile creeps across my face.

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