Managing My Home Plate – Practice Number One

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It was the first practice for my son’s competitive baseball team last night and I’m already disgusted. The head coach and I are not on good terms.

Some background for you; we’ve had Coach Marv as a hockey coach in our first year of initiation. I was the team manager, so I worked closely with him as a mediator between him and the parents. MM coached with him. Coach Marv was not a favourite coach in the division for good reason. One of those reasons was because he is one of those guys who treated 5 year olds like they are 15 and now 9 year olds like they’re 19. He was tolerable back then because there were always 5 coaches on the ice and we, as parents, didn’t have to deal with him directly most of the time.

As well, our sons are friends. They’ve been friends since the first day in kindergarten and they remain friends to this day. That was almost 5 years ago. There have been numerous sleepovers and both boys have played at each other’s houses on a regular basis. Because the boys are friends, we’ve become friends with Coach Marv and his now ex-wife, Jenn. They’ve recently divorced, but we remain friends with both of them.

We are friends. On some kind of inexplicable level. But that would be an overstatement. Because I’ve had it with him. He’s an asshole. I’ve always known it, but I chose to ignore it or laugh it off. Until now.

When I found out he was head of the 9 year old baseball division this year, I was a little disappointed because he’s known to take on too much and do too little. But, because we knew that Coach Matt and Coach Wally were also coaching, we were relieved. I was hoping that Wally and Matt would take over most of the duties on the team because they’re capable, intelligent, and sports-oriented. I knew my son would learn a lot from them. My personal hope was that Coach Marv would fade to the background and we wouldn’t even notice him.

I was wrong.

Coach Wally was out of town last night so Marv actually had to do some coaching. He didn’t seem too impressed about it when he commented to me, “I spend way too much time at this damn diamond.” To which I half-jokingly replied, “yeah, but you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t love it!” He grunted and then walked away.

While Marv was writing some notes on his clipboard as the kids were warming up in the outfield, I told Marv that my son was playing at tryouts while he was sick and I didn’t realize it until afterwards. I explained that I kept my son home from school for two days afterwards and that he missed his basketball tournament on Saturday. “He must really wanna play ball,” I stated with a smile, proud of my son’s dedication to baseball.

Marv didn’t even look me in the eye when he muttered, “well, he better not miss any ball practices.”

I was stunned. How fucking rude! My jaw dropped, I stood up from my lawn chair, and I looked him in the eye. “Seriously?? That’s what you have to say to me?? We’re done here, Marv.”

And then I walked the fuck away.

Not a good start to the season.

Pick Your Battles – Bottle Flipping And Fidget Spinner Edition 

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Listen, I know bottle flipping is annoying. And those fidget spinners seem like a ridiculous waste of money. I see them everywhere; at the hockey rinks, at the school, downtown, at the malls, in the doctor’s offices, at the coffee shop, and everywhere else. I don’t understand the point of either of them. And they get in the way of my son’s obligations sometimes. 

But…

My son has half-filled bottles of water littering my garage, deck, and front step. And I won’t move them. He also bought himself two fidget spinners and I didn’t complain about him wasting money. 

Because…

My son is nine. And trouble seems to follow nine year old boys around like a lost puppy dog. Instead of him vandalizing other people’s property (or mine), I allow him and his friends to flip as many bottles as they want for as long as they want. Because that’s how they bond as friends. It’s their quality time together. 

Instead of him bullying other kids, he’s inviting them to join in their bottle-flipping fun when they’re out in public. I see no value in the actual bottle flipping, but I see my son making new friends and enjoying time with his already-established friends as long as they aren’t bothering anyone else. 

Don’t misunderstand me, I’ve told my son and his friends to take it elsewhere if I feel they’re getting in the way at the rink, park, or anywhere else we might be. If they’re annoying someone else who might be near us, they are told to take it somewhere else or put it away. I’m not a completely ignorant parent afterall. It’s a matter of respect. But I digress. 

Instead of ripping my house apart and making a mess, my son sits quietly in the front window and plays with his fidget spinner. 

Instead of sitting in front of a screen for hours on end, he spins a gadget in his fingers and we have lengthy conversations while I make dinner. 

My point is that he’s not getting into trouble. He’s not ruining things. And he’s spending time with people he wants to be with. 

I understand that the bottle flipping and the fidget spinners are annoying and practically useless, but I’d be more concerned if the police drove my son home because he got his hands on a can of spray paint and ruined the neighbours house. I’d rather pay $12 for a spinner than $1200 to replace a garage door. I’d rather he spend time with his friends flipping bottles than bullying kids in the park. 

I’m not saying my kid would do bad things like that – I hope I’ve raised him better than that. But, lets face it, there’s always potential to get into trouble when you’re a nine year old boy. 

So I won’t complain if they want to flip bottles or spin those fidget spinners for hours. 

Besides, back in my day, we had a thing called yo-yos that my parents just hated. And I’ve still got mine.