A Dad’s Story: Steal!

baseballThere is just no denying it – if a man has played sports as a kid, he looks forward to playing sports with his son. No question. He buys the glove when you show him the pregnancy stick and stows it away for that magical day when he will play catch (or substitute: soccer, lacrosse, golf, hockey…) with his son.

But what happens if his son likes ballet, or decides he is a better singer than a baseball player? I think many a man has a moment of pause – new territory to ponder – territory he is probably not familiar with.

My husband, a baseball player, knew how to support our sons (and daughter) when they started playing Little League in Kindergarten. He played catch, he coached, he rented the batting cages – he taught our children his special brand of hand signals that meant “steal” or “slide.” He kind of pulled on one ear, touched his nose and maybe wiped his forearm twice. If he made those motions, in that order…it meant steal home! It also meant, “I have confidence in you, you can do it – I see an opportunity.” And it often worked. My husband was a wonderful coach.

In the spring of 8th grade, my eldest son, Danny, decided he didn’t want to play baseball anymore. He had not made the top team the year before, and decided he would try track instead. What? We had to digest this…no baseball?

Around the same time, Danny auditioned for a musical, and got the lead. He had a cute bowl haircut and won the part of Dauntless in Once Upon A Mattress. My husband supported him just as strongly as he had supported him in Little League. He didn’t miss a show and gave Danny the biggest hugs.

The greatest moment for us, however, was when Danny bowed with the rest of the cast at the end of the first show. We were cheering loudly, hooting and whooing louder than any parent in the place – and then it happened. Danny quickly pulled on his ear, touched his nose and wiped his forearm twice before leaving the stage.

“You gave me this confidence; look what I can do – what an opportunity!” he seemed to be saying with his quick signal. Most of the audience probably missed that moment, or thought he had an itchy nose, but we saw it. Now, years later, and after many more plays and performances – he still gives his Dad the signal after every one – and it steals our heart.


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