Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Is a Tree More Beautiful Than a Fastball?

We have a crepe myrtle in our front yard. The blooms add a nice touch of color in the spring and summer. However, there’s a problem with it. Some of its branches overhang our driveway.  For most people, this would likely mean that the branches could scratch one’s car twice a day. However, for us it’s a different problem.

The branches impede my son’s fastball.

With a hill for a backyard, the driveway is the only place my closer-in-training can practice his pitching. Football season has started and baseball won’t crank up again until next February. However, every day that my son doesn’t have football practice becomes a day for pitching practice. And not a week goes by where we don’t have to trim the tree. Every time it rains, the branches hang lower. We cut, pitch, cut and pitch again.

My wife worries every time we take the cutters, saying that I give little thought to the tree’s appearance. However, the issue has never been about appearance so much as clearing a path. I do my best to trim only blooms that are past their prime, leaving the ones that have room to grow. I have to do my best. The tree will continue to grow. So will my son.

As for the tree, does anyone have a better idea?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

The Lesson of the Honey Badger

Picture from LSU Sportsnet website
Like any football fan, my 10-year old has certain players he loves to watch, players that are not part of his favorite team but still make the game exciting. One of those players was Tyrann Mathieu, known to college football fans everywhere as the Honey Badger.

Up until a week ago, Tyrann Mathieu played for LSU. A Heisman finalist last season, he was an incredible defensive player. (Click here to see his bio from LSU’s website.) This fall, he could have led LSU to a national championship, but he was kicked off the team for breaking the rules.

I told my 10-year old what happened and it upset him. What did Honey Badger do he asked? I told him I didn’t know but asked my son if he understood what it meant. Rules matter and they apply to even the best.

As my son watches college football and wishes he could watch Mathieu play, I hope the lesson sinks in a little more.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Night Bus

I set the alarm for early. I didn’t need to. Knowing that my son had to catch a bus at 6:10 a.m. for his first day of high school made me anxious and I woke up anyway.

As I sloughed downstairs toward the coffee machine, I thought over my son's upcoming busy day. He has six classes before going to lunch. There’s one class after lunch and then school’s over. He could catch the bus after that, but he has marching band practice, which begins an hour after school ends. He will spend this hour studying before getting a good workout and then going home.

So, with darkness prevalent outside, I poured myself a cup of coffee and enjoyed a bowl of mini-wheats while he chowed down on frosted flakes. I soon realized my wife, who equates rising in the darkness to pigs flying, was up as well. She wanted to say goodbye before he left, too.
My older son before he leaves for school.
My wife took pictures to mark the day. Then, I walked him to his bus stop. We were the first to arrive, but another kid showed up a minute later. At that point, I knew he would want me to leave. So, I said goodbye and avoided every instinct in me that wanted to give him a hug.

As I reached the front steps of my house, the bus entered our subdivision. The bus drove to the back and then turned around, passing our house, and then stopped at the place where I’d left my son. It was hard to tell in the darkness, but it looked as if ten kids got on the bus.

The engine noise rose and then faded away as the bus left our neighborhood. My wife sighed as it did. “That sound used to wake me in the morning,” she said. “Hard to believe my son is now on that bus.” They grow so fast.

I took a shower and got ready for work, packing my briefcase and fixing my lunch. As I was about to leave, I heard the sound of small footsteps as my ten-year old sloughed downstairs, headed for the fridge and some orange juice.

He had come down to say goodbye.

He didn’t want me to leave without getting a hug.

My younger son before he leaves for school.