I’m the mom of three grown boys. With the experience of growing up with just one sister, I was unprepared for the active, boisterous life of 3 boys. The running, wrestling, the laughter, tears and relentless teasing until the youngest cried uncle all were like a tornado all under one roof in the confines of our home. But as I stand in the stillness of this home now that my boys are grown, I stare at the finger prints left behind on the wall above me that I could somehow not bare to scrub clean. Those finger prints high above at the bottom of the stairs up to their bedrooms bring back memories of the slam of the door, a sports bag thrown on the floor filled with a dirty uniform just for me, and the leap in the air to touch as high a point as one could reach before bounding up the stairs for a quick shower after a game. Oh, and the beloved shout, of ” hey, Mom, I’m home. What’s for dinner?”
As young parents, we were a bit over zealous when my first son, Jacob, showed the first hint of athletic ability. Like the drove of families around us, we joined them in the wave of activities that caused some psychologist to write a book titled “The Over Committed Child. “. Swimming lessons at 6 months, karate at age 4, soccer, basketball, football, baseball and rounded out with piano lessons and violin lessons, my oldest child survived our enthusiasm and settled into a reasonable routine of football and choir by high school. He tried the world of baseball at age 7, but when we would stand on the sidelines with camera ready for his big moment and that moment ended up being the coach yelling from the dugout to the outfield, “take the glove off your head,” we soon discovered that the “greatest game in the world” was not for him.
When my middle child, Tyler, came of age to begin the quest of the plastic trophy, he had inside of him the same fierce enthusiasm as we did as parents of our first born. He was ready to try anything and everything that his brother did before him. However, by that time his dad and I had read The Overcommitted Child and were quickly realizing that these activities cost money of which we were running out. When he asked to take karate lessons at age 6 thinking it was his rite of passage after being dragged for years to all of his older brother’s weekly lessons, I quickly brainstormed and in a flash of brilliance slowly asked him. “Well, show me your moves?” After a few kicks, swiping arm movements in the air, and shouts of “hyayh”. I sat back as if analyzing and out of my mouth came the words that saved me from another year of sitting in that small gym watching little ninja warriors. “Honey, you do not need lessons. Those Power Ranger episodes you’ve been watching must be working cause you look like an expert.” And off he went happily slashing the air at imaginary opponents until years later he realized he’d been duped!
The first time this little one put on a baseball uniform, from the beginning he showed such commitment, he would have made Babe Ruth proud. With quick hands and reflexes, he quickly showed an aptitude for the sport. After many years represented by numerous oversized plastic trophies that adorned his room, Tyler turned his attention to other achievements some of which were an active social life and girls. He too, finally settled into a reasonable routine of football and choir by high school.
With two beautiful healthy active boys and into my late thirties, everyone thought our family was complete. So when I announced my pregnancy at age 37 at a family gathering, my sweet father reacted impulsively not with “congratulations, but the words that now make me smile “you’re shi–ing me?” For years after this third boy was born, he was secretly, lovingly, jokingly behind his back referred to as “you’re shi–ing me.”
By the time “you’re shi–ing me” was old enough to enter the sports arena as his brothers before him, we were in our 40s and had sat on the bleachers of every sport offered in our community. We were tired, so when fellow parents would walk up to me and ask innocently “are you signing Jordan up for T-ball.” I would block the intruder from our youngest and shush them with a finger over my mouth and whisper ” shhh, we don’t want him to know it exists yet.” So desperate to be like his older brothers, this youngest wanted to sing. But try as he might to be like his 5′ 8″ song bird, strong football playing brothers. He grew to be a lanky 6′ 3″ with an instinctive ability to catch, throw, and hit a baseball with no musical ability, except he could dance. All three of my boys could have given Michael Jackson and the Jackson 5 a run for their money, except of the Cox 3 the third one could not sing, However, your shi–ing me” could throw a baseball.
Jordan’s first experience with baseball was coaches’ pitch. His coach was Terry Bohl. Terry saw something in Jordan that he thought was very special and so my husband and I were already counting the money in our heads and picturing ourselves in front row seats at professional baseball games when Jordan was just 7. But Jordan, as good of an athlete as he was, had a few quirky characteristics that were drastically going to affect his professional baseball career and our front row seats in our delusional eyes. Whether it was due to lack of good parenting being older tired parents with a third born or just part of his personality, Jordan was a fit thrower. We finally warned him after too many chances that if he threw one more fit at baseball practice or a game that we would pick him up and take him home. “And, that’s a promise, my husband declared one day after a foot stomping pouting fit.
So what were we thinking.
Well, we weren’t. We had no intentions of following through with that threat and ignorantly thought that the power of our words and threat would be enough to end the fits for good because by that time we had also read the book, The Strong Willed Child. We were experts.
But the day came when the Cox family became infamous at our small local
Baseball park. Coach Terry had an assigned field for practice that day at the farthest point from our parked car. Practice was going well until Jordan, who at that time had a tendency to throw his bat accidentally when he hit was up to bat. He swung and hit a ball so far it made his coach chuckle and shake his head, but he also threw the bat. Misreading what his coach meant by that gesture, our little hurricane picked up his bat bag, wailed and through the bag down in one dramatic motion. My husband and I instantly locked eyes and mouthed across the field “oh, crap, now we have to follow through. So Kyle scooped Jordan up and carried him like a 2×4 plank across his chest with his arms wrapped around him and marched through what seemed like a sea of perfectly behaved children and model parents. I walked with my head down behind them as people would touch my arm and ask” is everything ok? All the while, Jordan was bellowing at the top of his lungs ” you’re choking me.” We waited anxiously all evening, but a call from child protective services never came.
That same year it was determined that Jordan’s future baseball career would not be as a catcher. We marked that position off our dream list the day Coach Terry told him that he had to wear a cup if he wanted to be catcher. I could see the storm brewing and his body tense so I quickly stepped in and told Jordan. Let’s be catcher next time and we will practice wearing a cup at home. Amazingly, my suggestion worked. So the next day, Jordan put on his baseball uniform and placed the dreaded cup in its rightful spot to shield and protect and we went outside to practice walking in our cul de sac. It was pathetic as we walked together with him walking slowly moaning and wailing “Its touching my legs. It’s touching my legs.” I said back to him. “That’s not all its touching. You are wearing it. “. After a few nights of this agony, Jordan gave up his dream of being the catcher. As the years past, our little fit thrower mellowed out so much that his senior year he received a sports mental attitude award. It might be due to his developing personality, but I like to think it was Kyle’s and my expert parenting.
Oh, the quest of the plastic trophy, we have many stored in our attic, but what I value most is these memories of young parents who didn’t know what they were doing and three boys who brought us joy! I love all three just the way they are. They don’t need to be major league ball players. I just enjoy having front row seats to their day to day lives. Your sh–ting Me is still pursuing a baseball career at the University of Dayton, not as a catcher, but a pitcher! Lol