Our oldest son, Storm is beginning the Spring Little League Season soon. Today he had to go and be assessed (inspected like cattle) by the coaching staff. He was a little nervous, so we loaded the whole fam up in the Old Slow Coach (our Town & Country van) so that we would all be there for ego-boosting. After making the final decision which seemed to take on the import of Sophie's Choice, about which glove to use, we all trekked up to the field and watched as a very bubbly wife taped a number to his back. He and Dawn played catch while I sat with the twins who had packed their essentials and were happily coloring together. I checked out the competition.
8 is such a strange age. There were really little, scrawny kids and too-tall-makes-you-think-someone-should-check-their-birth-certificates-and-who-the-hell-cares-about-Little-League-enough-to-cheat-anyway kids, kids with obnoxious yelling parents, kids who knew they were the strongest and fastest and probably needed a good kick in the pants, and a few who seemed genuinely thrilled with the fact that they had on their favorite hat and their favorite glove and were playing their favorite game. Their parents were strangely quiet.
The largest coach called the boys over and lined them up. On the first base line, the boys were led in some stretching and basic drills. All went well. That seems like a given, I'm sure. It's not. Storm is the kid that got hurt at school during a session of Brain Yoga. It's not that he's uncoordinated. He's just easily distracted and maybe a little clumsy.
The boys were herded to the third base line and readied for pop-flys. All of the parents had, of course, also shifted to the third base side of the field. They couldn't miss a second. Their genetics were being weighed and judged and bid on. A slightly less-large coach saw this audience form and puffed up his chest. "OK, Coaches. Listen up! First up, first up is Will The Drill Campbeeeeeeeell!" The parents gave a polite if not nervous laugh. Bless his heart. The Drill stood no more than 3 ft. 8in. and couldn't have weighed more than 45 lbs. soaking wet. Newly monikered, he trudged out of line and teetered under a modest pop-fly until it blessedly came to rest just in front of him. Storm, eyes wide, turned to us. We calmly waved and smiled (and I'm sure Dawn didn't resist giving a thumbs-up) while the twins exuberantly cheered him on as if he was on deck in the World Series.
With a name like Storm, you don't really need a nickname. Slightly Less-Large upon seeing Storm's name on the page in front of him, hesitated just a moment before reading out "Jacksoooooon Storm!" He, like many others before him had refused to believe that the child's name is Storm Jackson as opposed to the much trendier, Jackson Storm. For his part and quite used to the mistake and probably relieved to have been saved "Hurricane The Storm Jacksoooooooooooon!" Storm jogged onto the field and made 3 slightly shaky catches and 3 timid but accurate throws to 2nd. The twins took a break from rolling down a dirt pile to go wild.
After finishing sprints and grounders with no missteps, he proceeded to the dugout. Poor Storm. He's been blessed and cursed with disorganized mothers. Today, he was annoyed by this. We had not brought his very own bat. He would be forced to borrow someone else's which is apparently, totally humiliating. When he came up, we held our breath and let go a little prayer. No line drives, no home-runs and no strikes. Thank you, Johnny Cash. (Doesn't he seem a good spirit to channel when you need a little boost towards something too trivial to bother the Kennedys with?)
He was done. It was over. He had declared himself happily average; and we couldn't be more pleased. He was beaming when he rushed us. "I can't believe I hit every ball!" Dawn pushed him to the grass, tickled him and mussed his hair. I think I'm the only one who saw her wipe away a tear.