The first text I sent out last Friday morning went something like this-“Happy Birthday to my all-time favorite baseball player.” Now, I don’t have phone numbers for George Foster, Johnny Bench, Eric Davis, or numerous others. That text went to my son on the occasion of his 17th birthday and just saying that makes me just wonder where the time has gone.
Since I began here at the Defender, a lot of you have gotten to know Jordan, especially a number of females around his age, but that’s OK. It’s all part of him growing up and maturing into the young man his mother and I hope and pray that he will always be. There are many days, though, especially since his birthday, that I have felt an imperative need to turn back the clock and let him be 5 again. In the blink of an eye, he has grown up so fast and yes, he is, and always will be my favorite baseball player.
My measure of a favorite baseball player is one that I get the most enjoyment out of watching. Sorry all you professional stars, but my baseball hero is right up the stairs in my own house. Any of you that know him are aware of his great love for the game, a trait I believe he inherited from myself and my father and my baseball-crazy grandmother. I want to turn the clock back to that very first game when he was 4 years old, playing against 7-year olds and I stood in the field in front of him so a line drive wouldn’t bounce off his head. I want to spend another $20 like I had to give him the first time he successfully snagged a pop fly out at second base. I want to go back to the time I tried to be the consoling Dad after he made an error that he thought was going to cost our team a crucial tournament game. (We came back and won!)
Don’t let anyone fool you, being a parent is the hardest job on earth, hands down. It is a life of worry, concern, tears, and struggles, but all of that is overshadowed by the smiles, the laughter, and the times of happiness that you get to spend with your kids. We try to make it all smiles and laughter but as most of you know, it just doesn’t always work out that way. Being a parent is quite an expensive proposition but I will never regret one single penny that we ever spent on our children, though a lot of those Happy Meal toys never got much attention once we got home.
My kids really had no choice but to grow up in a sports world, but they were always free to pick and choose what they wanted to be involved in. Why else do you think my daughter is playing soccer? Jordan was a pretty fair basketball player when he was younger but decided that baseball was his love and I have no issues with that. The joy I get from watching him on the diamond or the many baseball conversations we have is priceless to me.
I suppose the hardest thing about seeing my kids grow into young adults is the realization that I am getting older and the time with them is on the downhill side. It struck me when I woke up last Friday morning that I had a daughter almost 21 and a 17-year old son and I’m not getting any younger. Thanks to a pair of good friends I was able to have some nice evenings out with both kids this weekend, special times that will always make me remember birthday #17.
My daughter is already plotting out her career path as a junior in college and she will be successful in anything she chooses, sharing her mother’s strong personality. Jordan is a junior in high school and has really given us no clue about what his future might hold. He often says that he wants to go to college away from here and I can’t blame him for that, though I am not sure I could begin to deal with it. I want to think that we will always be attached at the hip, but I know there will come a time when I will have to cut the cord for a second time, although I hope he calls me as often as his sister calls her mother.
I can only say how very blessed I am to have had the family life that I have had my entire life. I had the two greatest examples in my own parents and I can only hope that someday Kelsey and Jordan will say the same thing about their parents. In the meantime, I will try not to blink my eyes too often as I anxiously await this spring and the first time he strolls up to the plate. My camera is ready!