My son’s coach recently said “your son’s quite a ballplayer, you must have spent time playing
ball with him, it shows”. I thought about the coach’s comments and how Evan’s baseball
career started when he was a toddler tossing rocks into the surf for hours on end.
Sometimes I would place an old can in the sand and Evan would try to hit the target,
which he was amazingly talented at doing.
I thought about how Evan and brother David would turn themselves into tiny corkscrews
trying to hit the whiffle ball off of the tee. When Evan was eligible for Little League we
signed him up and before long realized that he had great skills and natural abilities that he
certainly didn’t inherit from me.
Closing my eyes I can see wobbly little legs running around the makeshift diamond in our
yard. Little feet traveling a mile a minute, missing the first base rock, lightly tapping the
frisbee at second and scuffing the mound of dirt at third. Trying to hold back the laughter
and slowing my stride to avoid tagging Evan as he broke for home plate scoring the
Visions of an ecstatic little boy jumping up and down on home plate, tiny arms raised in
victory, the Sox cap much too big for his little head, a mile wide smile on his face. God,
help us why do they have to grow up so quickly. Before we know it David and Evan will
be off on their own following their dreams wherever they take them.
I thought about Harry Chapin’s “Cat’s in the Cradle” and how the song’s poignant words
move me whenever I hear it. “Cradle” is Chapin’s dispirited tale about a guy too
engrossed in his own world to make time for his son. Years later the old man yearns for a
little attention from his adult son who just cannot seem to fit his dad into his own busy life.
The song’s rueful lyrics stop me in my tracks whenever I hear it and encourage me to
spend as much time as I possibly can with my children.
My father and I have never been very close and it is difficult to grasp how a dad should act
and what one should expect from a father and son relationship. I have probably spent more
time with my sons than most, not necessarily by design but rather because of scheduling
situations including the fact that my wife works evenings. Regrettably, time waits for no
one and the boys are growing much too quickly, meeting new friends and interests and
developing a bit of the wanderlust.
I think about how I would read to the boys then tuck them in with a kiss goodnight and a
final tug of the covers to make sure that they were snug and warm. As Father’s Day
approaches I will again remind myself to try to spend as much time as possible with my
children because tomorrow is promised to no one. I want my sons to know and remember that while
their dad wasn’t a perfect father he always tried his best to become one.