Kim asked me to spend some time in the backyard with the kids this evening. What I think she meant to say was, “Do something to wear out the kids so they will go to bed before midnight”.
But either way, she was right.
We started out playing soccer using a tree and yellow Tonka truck as goal markers. The game ended when Anna went inside and wrote “7” on a piece of paper and “4” on another. She returned to the yard to flash the scores which turned out to be in her favor.
Her siblings who didn’t agree. As the official score keeper, I went to the sideline to review the instant replay monitor and called the game a tie, which certainly prevented a bench-clearing brawl.
We moved on to baseball. Or as close to the game of baseball one can come using a Spiderman bat and volleyball.
I showed both Lincoln and Luca how to hold a baseball bat. The proper grip, stance and motion were all part of the lecture. Just as I thought I was getting through, Luca said, “Just throw the ball, dad”.
I found myself giving the same advice my father gave me. I can’t imagine the number of hours my father spent playing catch with me. I can still hear the *smack* of the ball hitting my glove just right. Or the times he’d toss batting practice and I’d lace a hit into the street. My dad would race after the ball to keep it from going down the storm drain.
The older I get, the more I realize how often I give my children the same advice my parents gave me.
“Keep your chin on your shoulder and drive though the ball”
“If you take it, you eat it”
“No running in the church”
“Don’t sit too close to the TV”
“Hustle every play”
“All four chair legs on the floor”
“Say excuse me”
The phrases I told myself I’d never use on my own kids are the ones I repeat the most often. Maybe they contain the most universal truth. Or they could be the only ones I remember.
But it does make me aware that what I say to my children make take up permanent residence in their minds.
So when Lincoln asked me to retrieve the ball he smacked into the neighbor’s yard, I just smiled.