Good Old Fashioned Quality Time

Day 3

I bury myself in kids these days. And the gym when there are no kids around with which to bury myself. My kids and my other kids. The Big One is off to college and is cruising through his freshman year at ISU. My baby girl is in my science class and deserves hours of quality time a day for what a trooper she is, but is usually ok with the 20 minutes or so she gets. 

I need to be able to spend at least 3 hours a day with my middle guy in order to help him get where he needs to be to stay afloat. Between his sports and his life and his parents not being married and thus splitting time, in addition to the fact that work is a thing and school is a thing, there’s barely three hours a week we get together, let alone each day. It’s the same for my class. I have about 8 kids in my class who I wish I had somewhere between an hour and three each day to devote solely to them. Then, I know, I can steer each and every one of them toward a bright happy future. 

The math in all those equations means I fall short daily. I have a slice in me about questioning whether effort = being a good man, but we’ll wallow in that math another day. 

My middle guy is my athlete. He has natural born skills on fields and courts that The Big One and I, who also love sports, wish we had. When I played I played like I was a stud. I was not. I ran through walls, though, and had the busted knees and cuts and bruises and concussions and pinched nerves to prove it. 

My middle guy has skills but, more often than not, wouldn’t even go around those walls. He’d sit down and wait for a speed bump to go away on its own before attempting to lift a finger (or a foot) to get past it. At least that’s what it feels like sometimes. 

But as of last night, he officially became a high school 3 sport athlete after making his baseball team. Baseball has been around since he was like 2. I coached his brother for years before moving down to coach him when he was 5 or 6. Basketball came later, which he loves to watch and follow. He was good enough to make the team as a freshman this year. He came off the bench for the B team and had a blast. He started his high school career playing football for the very first time in his life. Also on the B team, he fought his way to being basically a star of that team. So many highlights. 

I was told, since this is technically my first time around, that he needed to move up and play for a very expensive, year-round travel baseball team to prepare for high school baseball. He made this expensive team after having his first tryout. It is the first team he is on that I am not coaching. But since the pandemic and 8th grade specifically, things have been hard for him. He is the kid we see or hear about that was really hit hard by remote learning. It got real scary. He still only does about 30% of his assignments. With a dad, who is a teacher, and who tries to bury himself in kids, I often feel the weight of that. All that to say, the year-round aspect of this baseball team fell to the wayside and he only went to about 7 of the 70 workouts I shelled out tons of money I didn’t have for him to be on. Then, Monday, high school tryouts came. 

It was a 3 day tryout and going into night one, he said he wasn’t nervous at all. Basically, he didn’t care. After he had a really poor showing, his voice told a different story. It crushed me for him. I pumped him full of honest positivity, he really is so talented. The second night went well and he felt ok going into last night’s finale. He made the team. 

Last night was his night with his mom but he had tryouts and two big school things to make up for his ELA class. So I told him we’d have a working celebration dinner. His face lit up when we were told the restaurant didn’t have wifi. So, just a celebration dinner? Nope. I’m not such a luddite that I couldn’t figure out how to make my phone a hotspot even though I’ve only heard rumors such sorcery existed. His appetizer pretzel came and so did my first old fashioned (and, of course, that song came on immediately, push it aside, let it go) and we dove into our work. 

Two old fashioneds and almost 3 hours later I realized the place was emptying and in the middle of the dining room there was us, me holding court speaking way louder than I should have been about the things I learned finishing the novel The Other Wes Moore whilst waiting an hour in the parking lot for him to get out of tryouts, and him having gone through initial phases of utter boredom to actual participation once he realized, “oh, yeah, dad’s going there.” I was able to give him his three hours, on his mom’s night no less, and wrap my two kid loves, quality time and teaching, all in one dinner. And the place had really good old fashioneds. 

Tonight is the first practice, and there will be a Bulls game recorded for us to watch together after. And it’s my last night before they go with their mom for the weekend and it doesn’t look like I’ll have time between it all to help him get caught up on anything else unless I divebomb his long weekend with all the beautiful weather we’re supposed to have. So, for now, I am grateful he got that win last night, and that I did too. 

“Wherever we go, there will be birds to cheer you

Flowers to color in the fields around.

Wherever we go, I’ll be right here near you

You can’t get lost when you’re always found.”

4 thoughts on “Good Old Fashioned Quality Time

  1. ““Wherever we go, there will be birds to cheer you

    Flowers to color in the fields around.”

    No truer words can be said. Your post reminded me of how my mom was my biggest cheerleader. I would truly give anything to have her here with me. Your post speaks to the never-ending (but joyful) job of parenting. Your kiddos are lucky to have you.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You are an amazing teacher and it sounds like a great dad!! All the kids that get to meet you can tell how much you care about their success!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I relate to so much of this. It’s hard to watch your kids struggle. It’s one of life’s biggest gifts to watch them come through and/or find success. Thank you so much for your posts. I don’t often comment, but I connect with almost every one I read.

    Liked by 1 person

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