This time I may have gone too far.
Email authors who could once be counted on for “C’est la vie” notes of support now verge on vitriol. The iconic “no worries” response is a thing of the past, apparently. I cringe, nowadays, when the auto-preview beneath the subject line populates with words that will bring a pit to my stomach. Yet another disappointee.
I need one of those big McDonald’s signs — “Over 300,000 People Disappointed!” instead of cheeseburgers served.
When it comes to my kids, I am a firm believer in holding doors open for them as long as humanly possible, until they are able to choose the doors to keep open themselves. I think my job is to give them options, to preserve their opportunities.
I am using every hand, elbow, foot, knee and chin to keep the doors from slamming shut. Sometimes I have to throw one open wide, pulling it with everything I have, then turning open another before the first swings shut again. Sometimes I am running down the hall at a full sprint, yanking on door knobs, shirt tails billowing, like some overdone dream sequence.
This seems most apparent when it comes to the sports my kids play. My 8 year-old Everett is just winding up his soccer and basketball seasons. I coached the latter, as I always have. But this past season I was physically present for perhaps only half of his games and practices. I’m not sure that made for a fair outcome for Everett, for the other players, or for our other coach.
I felt good about making it to their last practice last night. Managing to run a scrimmage and a few drills that maybe showed some objective improvement from the season’s beginning. There were quite a few smiles on the court, even.
Of course, in order to harvest those 8 year-old smiles with missing teeth, I had to short-change my older son.
Max is playing on a travel baseball team based in Marin County, across the Golden Gate Bridge from our home in San Francisco. The team practices three times a week. This frequency is actually new to our family. And I have heard of far worse schedules. Still, I haven’t quite mastered the art of being in two places at once. So I had to cobble together: A different school bus route than Max has ever taken in 8 years. A pickup at an unfamiliar bus stop in Marin. By a babysitter Max had never met before (nor had I). Who works with a (very generous, thankfully) family from Max’s new baseball team whom we barely know, and vice versa. A pre-game play date with said family’s son, one of the players on Max’s new team.
This all starts to feel like a convoluted game of Clue. The plan worked out fine, if fine is physically delivering Max to the appropriate field at the appointed time. And allowing me to coach Ev’s final YMCA basketball practice. Maybe the last such practice I will ever coach for Everett, since my basketball coaching bona fides are extremely thin.
And of course, Max had to miss his Little League practice that was being held across San Francisco Bay at the same time as he was running around on wet turf in Kentfield. His Little League coach (I am one of the assistant coaches) was understandably irked by Max’s absence. So I managed to disappoint Max and his coach with one fell swoop. Probably disappointed Everett, too, who complained that he got fouled a lot during his scrimmage and why didn’t I make the offending player cut it out.
My wife Hilary returned home that evening from an overnight work retreat. Typically I handle getting dinner ready for everyone. I’ve learned to relish this, turning myself into a decent cook over the years rather than viewing this as an unwelcome chore. But last night, given that Max’s baseball practice runs late, Hilary and Everett resorted to eating leftover pizza and birthday cake. The leftover pizza and birthday cake that we had served at Everett’s birthday party on Saturday.
That could have been a nice, uplifting point to end on. Save for the fact that Everett’s actual birthday was on December 6th. Saturday was March 1st. Three months later.
So like I said: Overextended.
Thanks for reading.