Tomorrow Jono starts his first season of coach-pitch baseball. He is giddy with excitement! The M and I bought him a glove and a couple of balls at Academy. He was so happy about his glove that he didn't want to take it off to let the checkout guy scan it.
Immediately after we got home we were into the backyard throwing balls back and forth, grass staining the new white balls, smelling the new leather. My palm stings from catching without a glove. I taught him to hold his glove this way, not that way, and what the difference was between a pop fly and a grounder. Throwing and catching, sort of. Skill level aside, something real happened out there this evening. Something American. Something cosmic.
When it got too dark to see, we came inside and drew a picture of a baseball diamond. This is the infield, that is the outfield. Run to first base first, three strikes you're out, what's a foul ball anyway? - that kind of talk. Tomorrow at noon is his first practice. I am excited and apprehensive for him.
But why should I be apprehensive? I have felt this way before. Whenever my boys do something new, something public, something potentially awkward or humiliating, I experience the pre-cringe of my own imagination. Perhaps it is my own sports insecurity, some deeply buried childhood memory of sand-lot football gone awry, or having my fly down at the junior high dance. Perhaps, more selfishly, I fear the other fathers thinking I am a lame dad because my son didn't know which base was first. Worse yet (or is it?) what if they think I don't know which base is first.
I say forget them, those judgemental, critical other-fathers that I don't know but only imagine. I know something real when I see it. When I smell it. I was there. It was cosmic.