THE SONIC BOOMER
’Tis the season — baseball season, that is. My five-year-old grandson Skippy, for the first time ever, is now signed up for baseball. He has always loved to throw a ball, as evidenced by the many broken lamps and vases around the house, and his parents felt it was time he learned some of the basics — like aiming.
Skippy is simply happy at the prospect of spending more time outside with his friends.
His father, in a fit of over-enthusiasm, went right out and got him a bat, a glove, four balls and a Nike sports bag that is as big as the kid himself. Skippy was euphoric. He unpacked everything onto the living room floor to show us, then repacked everything (including his soccer gear) and dragged it out to the front yard, lugging it like it was a dead body.
Then he unpacked everything again and hollered, “Let’s play ball!” There was no denying him — he had worked so hard getting everything out there.
So his mother was the pitcher, I was the catcher and Skippy was the batter (of course). We had some little traffic cones for bases, and Skippy would gleefully run around tagging them whenever he managed to connect the bat with the ball. Except he was running to the left… and carrying his precious bat with him… and cutting across the middle if it looked like he might get tagged before making it home. It was adorable.
But Skippy didn’t want to be adorable; he wanted to know the rules of the game. That’s the kind of thing that makes me swallow the fact that he’s not a baby anymore. He’s not even a toddler. I was right there while it happened, and yet, where had I been? “Time flies” suddenly seemed like a cruel reality.
The reality seemed anything but cruel to the Skipster. It turned out that Skippy, a southpaw, could aim pretty well once outside the confines of the living room. He switch-hit without even realizing he was doing it, and he ran like the wind. His laughter was that of pure joy.
When his mother finally got a turn at bat, Skippy and I had to run miles to fetch the ball but, when it was my turn, things were much more manageable. I did get to second base. Whenever the bases were loaded, his father stepped in to hit us all home.
We played for hours, until we could no longer see the ball. Then Skippy reluctantly packed up his gigantic sports bag, and we all returned to the more mundane aspects of life, like bathtime for Skippy and pain relief medication for me.
Later that night, Skippy’s mother texted me a photo of his journal entry for the day.
There was a two-page spread of the game — Skippy at bat, Skippy on base, Skippy as pitcher, balls flying in all directions, footprints drawn from base to base, me on second, everybody cheering him on.
It was visual proof that, just in case you think the time you spend with kids isn’t important — it is.