When our kids were young, we journeyed down the traditional path of juice boxes and halftime snacks, enrolling them in soccer and basketball while anticipating baseball on the horizon. Unfortunately, we were foiled by our son’s Tourette’s…he threw a slurpy at the umpire on a call strike three! I’m joking on that, but the reality of the situation was that team sports were not his thing so we sought other extracurricular adventures, uh…endeavors.
I have to admit I was somewhat remorseful. Having played multiple sports through high school I’d been looking forward to coaching the next Joe DiMaggio. Alas, he’d have none of it. Games of catch were torturous sessions of mental endurance. The irony of the situation struck me one day after saying, “OK if you catch 1000 tosses without a single drop, THEN you can go watch Sponge Bob.” It wasn’t his fault. The demon within him was strong and I needed to retreat.
So, through the years we’ve been engaged in Scouting, music lessons, hiking and all kinds of “stuff.” The conflicts continued, escalating at times to near unbearable heights. “I’ll see you in hell!” was a thought of desperation among many as I challenged the evil that taunted our boy. But the demon grows weak and it’s not from the mythical Armageddon that occupies my mind. He trespassed in the soul of the wrong victim.
“Dad,” I think I want to join the basketball team in high school.” Our son had just plopped his tail on the side of our bed. He was holding a sheet of electives that listed every sport at which he had very little chance of succeeding. I was THRILLED, however, if not lovingly amused.
“What’s going on, bud?” I asked wanting to know more.
“Well, if I play one of these sports, I can get into the year book! I know I’m not that good, but I can try.”
He still has a ways to grow, so freshman basketball isn’t in the cards. While he excels in sports requiring balance and climbing, his coordination is reminiscent of a rusty gate.
“Let me see the list pal.” I had an idea. “There it is,” I thought. “Cross country track.” If ever a person was built to smash a long distance record, he’s a strong candidate! Even if he grew 6 more inches, I suspect he’d remain close to 100 pounds. His feet would undoubtedly stretch beyond their current size nines and his legs are much longer than his torso. If you’re getting a picture of “Gumby” in your head, that’s Michael.
“Yeah, I guess cross country might be OK? I get kinda tired though when they make me run around the field.”
“That’s all right. We’ll get you a tread mill. You’ll build up your endurance fast. Maybe someday you’ll an Olympic runner! I think that’s the sport to pick.” I was pumping him up.
“OK, maybe that’s what I’ll do,” and off he went as I pictured him carrying the torch in 2016. I smiled and looked forward to a much different destiny than what the demon had planned.