Tuesday, March 4, 2008


Yo. It's beautiful here today. It almost made me want to call some friends and go play some ball at the park down the road.

I used to play ball with my father. It never failed that my dad, at first sight of spring, would yell for me to get my mitt and meet him in our 15x15 suburban backyard. Oh how I grew to dread the warming weather that followed winter.

I hated spring. For me it defined allergies, name calling, pain, and often blood.

It meant that I would soon be belittled by my father. He’d call me names like sissy and I’d be told I threw like a girl. It meant that I would inevitably embarrass my father enough with my inability to meet his athletic standards that he’d actually aim to blast me with the ball-- or so it seemed. For us, father-son bonding always ended with me in tears and running to pack my bags for yet another attempt at running away.

--One year he duct-tapped my oversized glove to my too small hand so it would no longer fall off when attempting to catch simulated fly-balls.

--Another year, dad was so dissatisfied with my pitch (and I played T-Ball) that he duct-tapped a sharp splint to my arm, as to prevent it from flapping when I threw. I threw like a girl in those days.

--When I got into the habit of throwing my bat after hitting (surprised that I could hit?), he duct-tapped the bat to my left hand.

--The year I was between shoe sizes, my new T-Ball cleats fell off at the beginning of spring. And again, the duct-tap came out.

--He once grew so tired of my slouching, he duct-taped a pole to my back (I'm not even kidding).

--Bloody noses were always plugged with a ball of duct-tape.

Duct-tape seemed to be the spring theme. The sound a ripping tap from the roll still gives me chills.

For us, bonding didn’t occur until after the name calling, the yelling, the tears and yes, the blood. I would be beyond upset, feeling like a failure because I was unable to please my father. He’d be beside me telling me that he was sorry. He’d tell me that he was proud of me. He’d sometimes even tell me that he loved me.

Those words always took away the pain; they still do.

…And sure enough, the ominous pair outside my window is no longer. The little boy has run off in tears. Dad seems upset as he throws his glove at his fleeing son.

Why do fathers do this to their little men?

I suppose it’s good for us. Maybe this is why I don't let people push me around today. Perhaps this is why I stand for what I beleive. Maybe this is the reason I'm not afraid to say, "I love you."

Just don’t think I’m going outside to play catch anytime soon.

1 Babble-Backs:

ty said...

I don't know if it makes you tough or not, I think maybe there are better ways to give your children strength. My stepfather used humiliation as a tactic with me, and it gave me low self esteem and decades to recover. Since your thinking of being a parent in the future, and I have a fantastic kid, let me tell you what works for me: build them up with experience so no one can take them down. Give them encouragment to try new things (whether it interests you or not) and teach him to follow it through till the end, travel, and many big hugs. Better lard up that glove, spring is upon us....lol.


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