Boys of summer
Three states in two days. I left Manhattan on Friday afternoon, a very slow snake through traffic to the Midtown tunnel, under the river to the airport. I arrived home just before AJ’s bedtime, unpacked my suitcase, repacked it and cleaned the house for showings, collapsing into bed before I was quite finished because I was so tired I could no longer remember where the paper towels were when they were in my hand. Saturday morning, we piled a whole lot of baseball gear in the car and drove to Wisconsin, which, fortunately, is not all that far from our house, which is located slightly under halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee. I spent all day yesterday in the baking sun on the sidelines of a baseball field watching AJ lose one game and win one so decisively that we ended early by what they call the “slaughter rule.”
Before dinner, we returned to the hotel dusty and hot. I took AJ down to the hotel pool, which was filled with 11-year-old boys. They had a couple of beach balls they were sending areening around the room, bouncing them off the ceiling, the walls the windows to see where it would land with a splash in a game that seemed to be something like a cross between keep-away and squash. 11-year old boys are loud.
We had dinner in the sports bar next to the restaurant, a big barny space full of people celebrating graduations, birthdays, soccer-tournament wins with embarrassing announcements over the loudspeakers and dishes of ice cream tied to balloons. “If I were graduating,” AJ says to me as we wait for our table, watching the third person in a row walk in wearing a mortarboard, “I would not want to go here for dinner.”
“No?” I say. It was AJ’s special request to eat here. They have all of his favorite foods: noodles with butter, pizza, vanilla ice cream. “I’d want to go somewhere fancy.”
Note to self: don’t forget to budget for graduation dinner.
And today I am back by the side of the field. We were up at six to be here by 7. We will play 1 or 2 or 3 games today, depending on whether we win or lose. AJ is trying to decide what he wants. On the one hand, he likes to win. On the other hand, if he loses, we might have time to go to Milwaukee and have lunch at his favorite restaurant, the one where you get to pretend to be a spy and you need to know the password to get in without being asked to do embarrassing things on the closed circuit camera.
Me? I’m fighting extreme boredom. I like watching AJ, but I am not a big fan of baseball, nor am I a fan of sitting outside in 90-degree weather without any shade, or making small talk with people I don’t know very well for hours on end. This is the universal curse of the introvert parent, I think. But there don’t seem to be too many introverted parents in baseball, which is probably why I’m the only one on the sidelines with a laptop. “You are always working, “ one of the other parents said to me the other day. It all depends on how you define work.
Still, there is something to be said for enforced sloth. If I were the type who liked summer, which I am not, I would enjoy baking in the sun all weekend. That can get me through the first game of the weekend, but not the second or third and certainly not the fourth, fifth or sixth. But I’m proud of my kid, who’s working hard on this, who is improving rapidly, who spends hours and hours every week working on it. They’ve been practicing last fall and this is their payoff and I wouldn’t miss the opportunity to cheer him on.