Thursday, April 17, 2008

Still Here

We had our second outdoor baseball practice tonight. It was cold and overcast, as it will apparently be here forever. Several of the parents huddled together. Finally one of them asked if there was any hot chocolate on the bench.

"Not any more," I said. "It was delicious, though."

The parents jeered. Off to a good start for the season.

The weather has also prevented the city from dragging the fields and they remain a horrid consistency, appropriate for throwing pots but not for playing ball. I tried out a few of the kids as pitchers and soon found myself spattered with mud.

"How are they looking?" asked Coach P. from across the field, where he was hitting fly balls to the rest of the team.

I smiled and waved to him. "My knees hurt and I can't stand up," I muttered before leaning against the backstop for support.

Last night was different. The youngest is in a pitching clinic with Coach P.'s son and two brothers who play on our team. The clinic's held indoors at a full service facility with batting cages and mounds and nets and everything else you need to spend money on a spoiled child. The guy running it told the kids to pair off and start warming up in a couple of the netted areas. Naturally Coach P. and I took the opportunity to warm up too.

"These are the heckle nets," said Coach P. "When you're behind them we can say whatever we want."

"You're toast," I said.

The kids made the mistake of looking at us.

"Step and throw," I said to his son. "Like a big boy."

"You need to use both hands when you catch," he told mine. "Or you'll get an owie."

"Where's your dad tonight?" we both asked the two brothers. "Was he embarrassed to be seen with you?"

Soon enough all four of them were glaring at us. The instructor returned. "Are you warmed up?" he asked.

"We'll give you another twenty bucks if you make one of them cry," said Coach P.

"Not a problem," he replied.

Worth every penny.

Which brings us back to tonight. With sunset approaching we tell the parents they can leave a little early and we'll keep hitting fly balls to the boys who want to stay. Some leave, the rest assemble in the outfield, except for one, Q., who heads for a nearby playground.

"Want to catch some?" I ask.

"No, I'll be over here," he says.

"Alright," I tell him. "Don't leave without telling me you're going." We don't know the parents that well yet and the last thing I want is to lose a kid.

Fifteen minutes go by and I check on him every couple minutes. Suddenly I don't see him anymore.

"Where's Q.?" I demand of my son.

"I saw him walking toward the parking lot with a couple people," he tells me. Visions of pedophiles dance in my head. I start jogging toward the lot and then I see him leaning in the window of a police car.

I get near enough to see I know the officer and realize it's only a friendly conversation. Suddenly a woman appears, flushed and unhappy. "Q.," she demands, "where were you?"

"You must be his mother," I say, extending my hand. "I'm Coach Snag. I don't think we've met."

She takes a breath. "I couldn't find him," she says.

"We were back on that field," I say, pointing. "It's hard to see."

""I couldn't find him," she says again. "I got worried. I'm sorry."

"Don't be sorry. We'd never leave him here alone, though. We won't leave any of the kids."

"I know. I just got worried."'

"That's okay."

"I got worried," she says again.

"It's okay. We won't leave him."

"Thank you," she says.

"Have a good night," I tell her.

They get in their car. "Q., buddy, you can't wander off like that," I say to the boy before he closes the door.

"Okay, coach," he says.

One lesson learned
, I think. I hope he learned it too.


Anonymous said...

That moment when you realize that you might have lost a child is one of the scariest moments in life. We've experienced a couple of those moments with Blue Kid. Even now, just remembering those moments is scary to me.

I still worry like that (although not as much or as crazily a word? Anyway...)

The Skimmer will say to me, "Blue Kid's 6 feet and 180 lbs! I don't think you have to worry!" And I'm like, "But, but, but...what if he falls for the puppy story?!"




Jennifer said...

It's like that Jason Robards' quote in Parenthood. He's talking about worrying about your children...

It's like your Aunt Edna's ass. It goes on forever and it's just as frightening.

Anonymous said...

I loved that movie! I just watched snippets of it a few weeks ago.

Everything in my life is have-to...

Adorable Girlfriend said...

Total helicopter parent.

AG is going to be a champ at parenting like AG's mother: wander off. If we get somthing back, we'll take it home. If not, party tonight!

Anonymous said...

I just remembered from Parenthood...

Poor Cool.

Kathleen said...

Tom Hulce! We loved you as a tormented Mozart! We hated you as the asshole father who abandoned Cool!