Baseball Isn’t What It Used to Be
In Algoma, Wis., I lived in a house with five women and I can tell you it was an experience on a daily basis, and though we don’t see each other everyday now we still enjoy our daily conversations. Three of the women are actually young ladies; the twins Kate & Khloe are 15 and Shante, who is now a sophomore in college, is 17.
I have always enjoyed talking to these young ladies and we certainly engage in all kinds of conversations. We talk about books, history, philosophy, politics, spirituality, and life lessons. These conversations are always intriguing, spirited and enlightening. Through these talks, I get a glimpse into the mindset of youth in general, but more importantly an insight of how my kids think and feel.
These conversations do have rules, which are: we have to listen, we are honest, we do not judge, there are no ramifications to what is said during these conversations, and the golden rule, “don’t ask a question, if you can’t handle the answer.” With the rules set, talking to the children has not only been informative, but it is aerobic as well. With my heart rate increasing frequently anticipating an answer I don’t want to hear.
The girls being the age they are and me being the inquisitive type that I am, it was inevitable we started talking about boys. First, I want to share that some of my recollections might be fuzzy, because admittedly, at times, my brain freezes, my eyes glaze over and I become catatonic when they are sharing their thoughts about young men in their lives. Or, at times being the mature male figure that I am, I stick my fingers in my ears and sing “Jingle Bells” to drown out the words that are now piercing my brain.
I have always felt comfortable with the subject of boys because we laid down some life rules that they pinky swore they would always follow. I entered into this binding contract when the girls were 4 and 6 years old. And, I still consider ALL these rules binding, even though the girls are 15 and 17 now.
Some of the rules are: no locked doors, no secret passwords for their electronics including phone, no boys in their rooms, no colored fingernail polish until they go to college, no blankets allowed downstairs (that’s a new one), boys have to come in to pick you up and drop you off, no dating until your 22 (okay I had to amend that one or sleep with one eye open), call me before your first kiss, no getting married until you are 35, no having sex until I am dead no matter your age, and even then I promise I will haunt you if you do. The last rule is, if any boy ever hurts you physically, in any way, you have to tell me and I will gladly take care of the situation with extreme prejudice and accept my consequences with a smile on my face.
So armed with these longstanding rules I have always been, for the most part, comfortable talking to the girls about boys. That faith was shaken on a recent college visit with our oldest. It was at dinner during our customary drink order, when Shante, our 17-year old college student, ordered a virgin something. I don’t remember what she actually ordered because I think I had a mild stroke. WHY? Because, as usual I let my mouth function before my brain, and asked after she ordered, “you still are, aren’t you?” When the words left my lips I suddenly remembered our golden rule.
At that moment I stopped breathing, fireworks exploded behind my eyes, I couldn’t think and trying to talk was the last thing I wanted to ever do again. I remember going towards the light, and then I heard through all the fog and fear “of course I am you idiot” the blood rushed back to my brain and after ample time I was able to speak. At that moment I promised Shante I would never ask that question again. We then proceeded to argue about history and politics. Life was good again. I was proud of her. I love her and she is a great kid. Plus, I knew when I got home there were 2 other children that I could harass about boys. If I only knew then what I know now, I would have talked about ice curling instead.
On return to our family domicile and comforted by my last conversation with Shante, I engaged in a conversation about boys with our 15 year old girls. I assumed, since I haven’t received any calls that they were still sweet 15 and never been kissed. That assumption was wrong and the conversation went downhill from there.
After getting over the disappointment of not getting called before their first kiss, I tried to make things easier. I went into a baseball metaphor to talk about sex. I explained to them that when I was young, we would talk about our love life in baseball terms, Meatloaf even sang a song about it. Now that I knew they were kissed I shared with them that was second base. Laughing hysterically at my naivety, they shared they also talk in baseball terms, but second base wasn’t kissing it was q@#$%#. Holy Mother of God. It was Deja Vu all over again. I stopped breathing, fireworks exploded behind my eyes, I couldn’t think, I couldn’t talk, I was having a stroke, and I was determined to go to the light this time. I was eventually revived when I was assured with a pinky swear from both of them, that they were the Pete Rose of dating, and singles were all they wanted to hit and were going to hit until I am dead (they will take their chance with the ghost).
If we have many more conversations like this they might be dealing with that ghost a lot sooner than they think. Remember parents, if your child talk’s about baseball, “baseball isn’t what it used to be.” Today even Mario Mendoza would be a homerun hitter.
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