Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Wiffle Dad

Every day, without fail, my son -- nine years old -- asks me to play Wiffle Ball. (I'm not sure about the universality of this game, so I will mention, for my readers outside the U.S., that Wiffle Ball is baseball, more or less, with a plastic bats and balls that allow play in one's back yard without breaking windows, faces, etc.) So, every day, the lad asks me to play.

He has quite a skill for asking me to play at the most inopportune times. As soon as I get home from work, for instance -- I mean, the instant I come in the door. Or, right at the end of dinner -- simultaneously with my last bite, usually. (Two days ago, I ran around the bases moaning "Ugh. Too . . . much . . . pork . . . in . . . belly," which he thought was hilarious.) He asks me when I wake up on Saturdays. He knocks on the bathroom door and asks me. He asks me while am writing blogs. He throws open the door to my studio while I am practicing or recording or singing and asks. The only way he can ramp up the issue would be to wake up at three in the morning, shake me, and ask. It hasn't come to that. Yet.

And he wants the full experience. He wants to run the bases. No one runs the bases in Wiffle Ball. Usually, the playing field is broken into zones -- a single is here; a homer is there, etc. But my boy wants to slide. He wants to dive. He wants to announce the game as he plays, smack the ball and mimic the sound of the crowd as he plays. Often, he makes me wear a cap, indicating that I play for a team on the schedule that he has mapped out in the back of his math notebook from last school year. If he could convince me to install a scoreboard and a "Jumbotron" TV in the back yard, he would. I think he might be pursuing advertising deals and endorsements with athletic companies behind my back.

And, of course, he wants Dad to run the bases -- which I do, despite my best efforts to convince him that Wiffle Ball calls for simplification of the rules, especially in deference to the aches and pains of forty-three-year-old drummers. (I like to say, as Indiana Jones once did, "It's not the years. It's the mileage.") I run, nonetheless.

The long and short of it is that I say "yes" a lot. In fact, I would have to say that I play with him four out of five times that he asks. And when I don't, I usually volunteer to have a catch -- at least for a little while.

What I worry about is this: When he is thirty, will he remember how many times I said yes, or will he remember the times I said no? I worry a lot about this. And how will his memory -- both conscious and subconscious -- of this time affect how we interact when he is a man?

After all, in this instance, isn't Wiffle Ball a hell of a lot more important than all of my responsibilities and personal wishes?

At any rate, I hope he remembers to play ball with his own kids.

Here he comes. I have to go stretch.


  1. Truth is, by the time that boy is in his thirties he may not remember almost any of it. But his life will be shaped (and hopefully be better) by the shared experience. He'll just know that it's great that a dad and his son spent time together and play together and learn together. You'll remember it, as we all do as parents, in much more detail. We savor the actual events, where our kids soak them in at every level. They may not keep that vivid memory, but I think in the long run it will impact him more.

    So keep up those almost daily games. The little guy will be all the better for, I've seen you could stand the practice.

  2. For a minute, I thought you were going to comment without a Wiffle Ball insult. What was I thinking? Oh -- wait -- I must have been thinking about how we got farther than you in your own tournament this year without our best hitter.