Spring break – finally. It is official day one and I already know it’s going to whip by and I’ll find myself in my classroom awaiting the start of the end, and the final (hopefully) iteration of this era of weird. Chili’s, Lost binge, March Madness, French Toast, groceries, March Madness, Taking the boy for his driver’s license, laundry, sleep, March Madness, out to dinner, family fantasy baseball draft, brother from Kentucky visit, March Madness, Bulls game, out to dinner, Cubs opening day, birthday party, watch that movie, rest, quick quick quick – go.
The one thing noticeably missing from that wonderfully curated itinerary is the start of our travel baseball team’s season. We have some practices and, weather permitting, a game or two to attend. But it will be different. After a time consuming, 3 day a week since January, winter workout grind, our first official activity of break was a doctor visit. Broken finger. Ortho can’t see you until April 7th at noon – first day back to school. No timetable until then. I just changed the appointment the EMT made for us for further away on Monday while big brother was practicing driving, thankfully.
His cheeks seemed to be always chipmunked from smiling. His eyes black and squinty like mine. These were my thoughts yesterday when social media stumbled me upon old pictures of my middle guy. My ballplayer. My troubled child ever since “little” stopped being an apt description for his lankily upwardly expanding frame. It probably started during and after the divorce, if I’m honest, but I was too busy in myself and making us look a certain way to notice. If I’m honest.
Now the main thing that actually makes him smile these days, the thing he has been looking forward to since sweet air was replaced so long ago by bitter winds blown with even more alienating furiosity by Covid, has been delayed. Because, of course. He broke it playing football with buddies. He may not have the tools, yet, to master online learning but when it’s something he loves, he goes hard. Always. He is sensitive, heartbreakingly so, and I encourage all young men to indulge and craft a solid sense of sensitivity. There’s a big void in the gender. I love this sensitivity in him even though it has bit his old man in the butt over and over because I still believe it’s better than alpha ultra caveman. But that doesn’t mean he’s not tough. He’s had to be, unfortunately. But he continued that football game with a broken finger, and played through 3 subsequent baseball workouts where that finger was bashed and slammed, high-impact style, over and over.
That little guy. Who earned the nickname “Smiley” from his favorite tom-boy aunt. Who is as tall as me and sees the same darkness I’ve allowed to make me jaded and armored, despite still being too young for such heavy despair. It really isn’t fair. But he knows real life isn’t fair because his dad has been warning him of that since about the time the bleakness started moving in. The depths of that are too possibly guilt-riddled to even explore, but I see the tenuous correlation.
Spring break will go fast. Yes. But man, everything does. I know it’s cliché but clichés exist for a reason. It’s going to speed by, I know, but I also know I am going to immerse myself in all of it and make it count.