Tee Ball Week 2

Week two of tee ball went a lot better than week 1. As I noted in my week 1 write up, Max’s coach and the other teams coach had an argument. So this week, they just split Max’s team up into two teams. Half would play the field, half would bat. Each inning, each kid would get to hit twice. Since there were less kids in the field, there was lessĀ confusionĀ and fighting for the ball.

Max did well hitting in week 1, but he and most of his teammates struggled with fielding. The hitting was about the same this week, but fielding was much better overall. Not sure if all the kids practiced with a parent like I did with Max, or if it was the speed of play and less kids in the field made it easier, but the kids seemed to field the ball better. Max actually fielded 3 or 4 grounders and made some nice throws over to 1st base. He was one of the few kids who reached 1st base on the fly.

This coming week, we have picture day, so the kids won’t actually play or practice.

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Absentee Parents

I don’t like to ridicule other parents for their parenting styles. Lord knows I’ve made my fair share of mistakes with Max, and will continue to make mistakes along the way. As parents, we can’t always get things right 100% of the time. But what I think is important, is making the effort 100% of the time.

The type of parents I take issue with are the parents who seem to have their children almost as a status symbol, and don’t spend an adequate amount of time with them. They hand their kids off to a baby sitter or nanny every chance they can. I understand the need for personal time. I really do. I crave it, and wish I had more of it. But when it comes to Max, I try my best to spend as much time as humanly possible with him.

During the week, Rachel and I both work, and we are very lucky that we have my mother-in-law to watch Max for us. So most nights during the week, I only get to spend about 3 hours with Max before he goes to bed. And each night, I try to make time to do something fun with him. It’s not always possible. Sometimes work gets in the way and I have to work late. And some nights, I have to do something around the house, or run errands. But most nights, I take Max to the park, play with him outside, take him swimming, read him a book, play video games, or find something else to do with him that he enjoys. It’s not always something fun, there are times when I have to sit him down to work on his numbers, letters, writing etc. It’s not “fun” per se, but it’s something I’m doing with him for his benefit. The way I see it, he will only be little once, so might as well enjoy as much as it as I can. He actually likes spending time with me, so might as well take advantage of it before he becomes one of those teens who are embarrassed by his parents.

Looking back, some of my fondest memories as a kid are going to the park with my dad and helping my dad out around the house. My dad passed away when I was 11, so those memories are so very special to me. My dad used to get up at 4:30 to go to work and he was 51 years old when I was born. So he wasn’t a young man, so I now realize how nice of him it was to take me to play baseball, or throw the football around after a long, hard day at work. And those little things, like helping him replace a broken hinge, or raking up autumn leaves that we got to do together are forever in my memory. So I personally try to incorporate Max into my life as much as possible, so hopefully he will have fond memories of his time with me when he grows up. This past weekend, I had to prune the tree in the front yard. I could have done it a lot faster and a lot easier if Max wasn’t at my side. But I know he loves to help, so I let him help me best he could. It was a great bonding experience, and the smile on his face was more than enough reward for me.

I guess Facebook is what made me aware of these types of parents who hand their kids off every chance they get. People sometimes complain on Facebook about parents who post too many photos or videos of their kids. (Im definitely one of those parents) To them, I say take a look in the mirror. While you are posting photos of yourself at happy hour, or eating dinner at some trendy restaurant, I am way more proud to show a photo of me and Max fishing, or riding our bikes together. If Im doing something I enjoy with my child, you bet Im going to snap a few photos or take a video. Each day and week seems to fly by, so I’m going to try to preserve it anyway I can .

Rachel and I probably don’t make enough time to spend with each other. It’s a super rare occasion when the two of us go out for dinner where it’s just her and I. Usually reserved for our birthdays and anniversary. Last weekend, we went to a wedding, and since Rachel’s parents and siblings were going to the same wedding, we had to leave Max with a sitter (a family friend). Rachel and I realized that this was the 1st time we had left Max with someone who wasn’t a family member. And Max is almost 5. So I guess we are at the far opposite end of the spectrum.

Im not saying this to toot my own horn or to say Im a better parent than anyone else. But what I am saying is put in the effort. Why have children if you aren’t going to spend time with them? Maybe your child will grow up just fine, and maybe they will go on to an Ivy League school and be a CEO of some huge company some day. Or maybe they’ll go on to be a famous writer, artist or athlete. But if you had little to do with that success, is it really worth celebrating? It’s kind of like going out and buying a fully restored classic car, or rebuilding it yourself. The end result may be the same, but I tend to think the person who did all the work themselves is going to feel a little more proud, and feeling a little more accomplished.

I’m happy to say that most of my close friends are great, hands on parents. I’m just saddened by the few I know personally who are not. Those who make every excuse to do something that doesn’t involve their kids. Spending extra time at work so they don’t have to deal with their kids at home. Going out for drinks after work, instead of helping their child to ride a 2 wheelers, or finish their homework. It even bothers me with the ones I don’t know, but I see out and about with their kids, who seem annoyed or inconvenienced by them. Children are a blessing, and should be treated as such. Never forget that.

Sure I would like to travel, see concerts and the latest movies. But when Rachel and I decided to become parents, we knew we would have to put that on hold for a while. God willing, when Max grows up and is on his own, Rachel and I can travel then. Now, if we are going someplace, it’s for the benefit of our little angel Max.

Preschool

The first week of pre-school has gone very well so far. Last year, it was all a very new experience for Max. He had never been away from Rachel and I or Nana before. We had always been his care givers. So he was understandably nervous when he started nursery school last September. He seemed a little hesitant to start pre-school, but as the 1st day of school drew nearer, we kept telling him how fun it would be, and that he would do great. This seemed to be put his mind at ease a bit.

When we arrived on the 1st day, he saw some familiar faces like his two teachers from last year, and that seemed to put him even more at ease. When they opened the doors of the school, he more or less ran into the building. This year, his classroom is on the 2nd floor and is much bigger. He was very excited to be in the “Big Boy” classroom. When Rachel and I turned to walk out of the classroom, we looked at him and he looked a bit scared and lost. But when he came out of school that day, he seemed like he had a great time. Every night when he comes home, I ask him how school was and he always seems to say good or great.

This year, they seem to be doing a lot more interactive stuff. They’ll be doing show and tell every friday. They will have to bring in something from home that starts with the letter of the week. This week they are learning about the letter “L”. Since we don’t have a pet lion, leopard or llama, we decided on bringing in Lincoln Logs. Does he get double points for both words starting will L? ;-). Max is already looking forward to next week, when the letter is F. He plans on bringing in one of his frogs. I think having the kids get up in front of the class is a great way to get them comfortable with speaking in public.

The teacher this year seems to be very organized and regimented which we love. They have a set schedule and they seem to stick to it. They let the kids play outside (weather permitting) for 30 minutes or so each day. Nana has said when Max comes out, his little cheeks are usually rosy and red. So he seems to be having fun playing outside. It rained yesterday, so I asked Max what they did. He said they played hopscotch, leapfrog and walked on cups with rubber bands attached. He seemed to love it. He kept hopping around the house all night.

The teacher is also big on reading. She sent home these little coupons on the 1st day of school. Every time Rachel or I read Max a book, we write down the name of the book and the author. Max brings it in and the teacher will ask him a few simple questions about the story. If he gets them right, he gets a puzzle piece for his monkey puzzle. Max was so into finishing his puzzle that he got all 20 pieces of the puzzle in his first week of school. He’s so proud of his monkey puzzle.

He seems much more ready and much more into school this year. It’s only been a little over a week, so maybe his enthusiasm will peter out as the year goes on. But I think having a good teacher, who challenges the kids, and who knows how to stimulate their minds is making all the difference. Being a year older doesn’t hurt either. In a way, I’m glad he is still only doing 1/2 days this year. I think 4 hours a day, 5 days a week is perfect at his age. It will prepare him for when he starts kindergarden next year. He seems to be maturing and doing quite well. A year ago when he started, he seemed so lost and it was all so unfamiliar. This year, he seems so ready and gung ho. It’s been a pleasure to see him so happy and excited.

Week 1 of Tee Ball

In the spring, we talked about signing Max up for a tee ball league. He seems to enjoy playing baseball, and did well in the “Little Titans” class he took that introduced him to basketball, soccer, teeball and hockey. Unfortunately we waited too long, and all the spots were filled in the spring league. So we decided to give the fall league a try. Luckily this time, we got a spot for Max on the Dale City Dodgers.

Saturday was his first practice/game. Max’s coach described it as “Controlled Chaos”. And that it was. There was no one kid assigned to playing 3rd base or shortstop. The kids were lined up, sort of like a wall to keep the ball from going out into the outfield. When the ball was hit, 3 or 4 kids in the general direction would go running after it and tackle the ball and each other in the process. Funny to watch. Max’s coach had one kid assigned to play 1st base. The rest of the kids just played someplace in the infield. Whoever got the ball that was hit to them was supposed to throw it to 1st. Half the time the kids threw it home, some threw it to 2nd, some threw it to 3rd and others actually threw it near 1st. Definitely need to work on that hehe.

Hitting was much better. I have to say that nearly everyone on Max’s team hit the ball solidly off the tee. On the team we played, they had a few kids who could barely swing the bat hard enough to knock the ball off the tee. I think it was partly lack of hand/eye coordination, and probably a little fear on the kids part. Max hit two balls down between 3rd and shortstop in his two at bats.

At this age, the kids have short attention spans, so Max’s coach tried to keep the pace moving along at a good clip. The coach asked parents to help the kids, and to pitch in wherever they could. I coached 1st base, and Rachel watched over the dugout. I made sure the kids stopped at 1st, and that they knew where 2nd base was. She helped the kids with their helmets, made sure they had a bat that wasn’t too big or too heavy for them, and made sure they were ready to go in a timely fashion. The coach of the other team was not as organized, so there was a lot of standing around waiting. This annoyed Max’s coach, and they got into a bit of an argument. Eventually the other coach got annoyed and walked off the field, along with his team. So when Max’s team batter in the 2nd inning, the parents had to play the field since the other team walked off.

One of the kids on Max’s team peed his pants while playing in the field. Not sure if he was nervous and excited, or if he had just drank too much water in between innings or what. Felt awful for the kid. We offered up a spare pair of Max’s pants to him, but his Mom said he just wanted to go home. Hopefully he comes back this week and puts it behind him. A rough way to start playing team sports.

Overall it was a fun experience. Max was smiling ear to ear for most of the game and he really loved batting and running the bases. He was getting bored in the field, but I think if the pace of play was quicker he would be liked that part more. Looking forward to week 2. Im sure as the weeks progress, things will get slightly more organized and the kids will get better and more confident. They already seem to have the hitting part down, now it’s a matter of working on fielding and throwing.