Thursday, June 27, 2013

Eye Hand Help

One of my favorite all time Homer Simpson quotes is, “If something is hard to do than it’s not worth doing.  You just stick that guitar in the closet next to your shortwave radio, your karate outfit and your unicycle and we'll go inside and watch TV.”

I desperately don’t want Elijah’s desire to learn how to catch a ball to go the way of Bart Simpson’s short wave radio.  So I was determined to get that boy back on the mound this morning.

But yesterday’s session, while good emotionally, was not very successful skills wise. Every time I threw the whiffle ball to Eli, it bounced off him like there was an anti-whiffle ball force field surrounding him.  Oh, this would be so much easier if he was suddenly interested in sci-fi.

I blamed myself.  I was clearly not teaching him the proper fundamentals.   So I turned to the internet for solutions.  If only he was suddenly interested in searching for things on the internet.

Luckily, I found a video fairly quickly that featured a an uber jock dad who outlined step by step how to teach a child who is ball averse to catch.  I was immediately impressed with the fact that he never once made fun of me or my son in the video.  And equally impressed that his golf visor matched his Under Armour high tech wicking shirt and impossibly great coaching shorts.

His technique involved having the eye/hand impaired simply hold their hand out in front of them in a Supremes’ “Stop in the Name of Love” gesture.  Then toss balls at the outstretched target until the kid gets used to having a ball connect with a palm.  Then move on to catching said ball.  Then move on to the suicide squeeze play.

I sprung out of bed this morning at 6:30am sharp to try out my new training.  The only problem?  Eli did not want to get out of bed.  I shook his shoulder.  I poked him.  I loudly whispered, “Wakey wakey eggs and bacey in his face.”  Nothing.

Luca, on the other hand, woke up immediately and ran into our room to torture Diana. 

Finally, Elijah stirred.  Butt first.  Then he exited his top bunk butt first, slid down the stairs butt first and slowly put his shoes on.  Butt first.

After informing him that regardless of when training began, it had to end at 7 so I could get ready for work, he stood sleepily on our tiny patch of lawn.  I had him give me the stop sign and began tossing balls at him. 

The result?  Better.  I’ll admit my skills at throwing the ball to his outstretched hand needs almost as much work as his catching skills.

But we’re getting there.  

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


I’ve been working a little crazily lately (hence the lack of posts) and got home last night right when the boys were headed to bed.  Thankfully, I was able to give them each a wet kiss they hated with white hot fury.  Too bad.

Moments later I was chatting with Diana when she looked at me in the eye and said, “You HAVE to teach Eli to catch.”

It appears that one of the kids from the neighborhood has been making fun of Elijah for his lack of skills.  I guess he accidentally threw a baseball into our neighbor’s yard and while Diana helped them recover it, this nameless child said, “Eli is weak.”  When Diana demanded to know what he meant, he said, “He’s just…weak.”

And then after some ill fated at bats down the street, he came home and glumly said, “I’m the worst at sports ever.”

My heart shattered into a billion pieces.  I had failed in my one and only job as a dad: Teaching him to be a major league short stop.  Granted, Eli’s aversion to any and all requests to play sports had, until that moment, been well documented.  But momentum just swung in sport’s direction like that game where they hit the black disk thingy on ice.

I ran up to the boy’s room and grabbed Eli in a hug and whispered in his ear, “Do you want to learn how to catch a ball?”

Luca called from below, “Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad!”

Elijah whispered back, “Yes.”

I told him my schedule doesn’t allow for sunset games of catch at the end of a fictional cul de sac.  But if we was serious about learning how to play catch, I would wake up at 6:30 every morning and teach him how to catch for a half hour every single day until he was good enough to make the nameless neighbor kid feel like never picking up a bat or ball ever again.  Eli breathlessly agreed.

Luca said, “Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad!”

I said, “What, Luca?  What?”

“I found my fire truck ladder.”

“That’s great, honey.”

As if on cue, Mother Nature sucker punched us with a terrible summer storm.  All night, Grover stuck his face in my face, panting to let me know the National Weather Service had issued a flash flood warning.

It was still pouring at 6:30am when Eli tip toed in and said glumly, “I guess we can’t play catch, huh?”

I said, “We are going to play catch, Eli.  I promised you we would.”  And so we went to our basement with two whiffle balls and put our time in.  Eli was determined, if rarely successful.  I think he nabbed one out of every 30 balls thrown.  But he didn’t let it get him down and actually concentrated on keeping his eye on the ball.

We agreed to do the same thing tomorrow and every day after.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Kansas City

Diana and I went down to Missouri last weekend to attend the completely kick ass wedding of our pals Kitty and Joe.  It was our first weekend away from the boys in a very long time and drank up every moment without those two screaming knuckleheads like the Budweiser in a can so graciously supplied by our hosts.

Or did we?

We missed them far more than I thought we would.  I had to allow myself one and one only call to check on them per day.  But unlimited text messages.  But I found Diana and my party conversation could always make it’s way back to Elijah and Luca.

Oh yeah, the Royals are playing the White Sox.  Do who hates baseball?  Elijah.

Yeah, that dude who leaked all the NSA data.  Do you know who can’t spell “NSA?”  Luca.

September 11th?  Eli, Luca, Eli, Luca, Eli, Luca.

When I would ask them how things were going they would respond the same way every time.  “I can’t remember what we did today.  Can I talk to mom?”

Completely understandable.  I would hand the phone over and they would weep openly about how much they missed her and have competitions on who missed her more, often getting into fights over it.

My dad and Connie would then give me the lowdown on how many gallons of water they spent playing water gun fights and what good eaters they are and generally behave like the best grandparents ever.

And then I’d go back to pretending to listen to non Luca and Eli based conversations.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Rotten Egg

Elijah and Luca love each other.  Let’s get that out of the way.  They really, really love each other and it melts my head that they are such great friends.

And they they are archenemies.  Their only goal in life is to destroy one another.

I think it came down to whoever invented the phrase, “Last one ___ is a rotten egg!”  I imagine it was Diana in a bid to get them to please put their pj’s on.  But now all they care about is not being a rotten egg.  Their entire reason for being is to not be sulfurous and icky.

Run up the stairs?  Eat your soup?  Walk down the street?  Get your shirt on?  Better hurry up or you’ll be a rotten egg, my friend. 

I particularly like how they will declare it is a rotten egg race three quarters of the way to whatever goal is set in front of them.  They’ll be an inch away from a tree and say, “Last one to the tree is a rotten egg!”  Touch.  Last one to ascend this last rung to the top bunk is a rotten egg.

Last Saturday, Luca had an inspired rotten egg challenge.  “Last one to say ‘Fart’ is a rotten egg!”  Now, as you recall, the F Word is a felony in our house.  You say that word and you go sit on the steps. 

Both boys stared at each other.  What was more important?  Rotten-ness?  Or punishment?  Who dares say fart?

Well, truth me told they both caved at the same time and spoke the unspeakable.  They also both immediately said, “Ooooooh!  You said the F Word!”

I informed them that I was not punishing anyone and their cuteness outweighed my hatred of semi obscene language.

Which lead to a furious Fart cavalcade.  

Friday, June 14, 2013

Hot For Teacher

A few months ago, I went to the Apple store to cash in a gift card.  I fully intended to use it to purchase an ipad for the family because Luca’s use of our Kindle on the toilet had, in my opinion, rendered it radioactive. 

But I found myself standing in front of the speakers.  A blue shirted Apple hipster was describing the merits of the most expensive one on the shelf.  Any self-respecting audiophile would accept nothing less.  No wanting to seem uncool or seem like I didn’t know what “audiophile” meant, I blurted out, “I’ll take it.”

In the end, the overpriced back monolith currently located in our kitchen is pretty awesome.  And it’s kept Elijah and Luca’s love of rock alive and well.  Particularly now that we’re able to rattle the wine glasses in our cabinets.

I’ve had to re-think the musical choices to keep up with their love, nay, need to rock.  I tossed my John Denver’s greatest hits into the virtual waste basket and loaded up my ipod with Black Sabbath, AC/DC and Metallica.  Oh, and we are definitely getting the Led out.

However, the artist the boys (and most fraternity members circa 1985) hold up as the greatest band of all time? Van Halen.  Guitar virtuoso and iconic shredder Eddie Van Halen. Pure sex stuffed in spandex David Lee Roth.  And the other two.

The minute the double drum kits erupt in the song “Hot For Teacher” Eli and Luca go absolutely nuts.  They aren’t really sure what “Hot For Teacher” means, despite the fact that I scream the lyrics into their faces as I play air guitar.

As I’ve said before, Grover the dog gets really agitated when we have our impromptu mosh puts in the kitchen.  Add to that now a near blood letting level of volume and things get a little dangerous.  For me.  He got so whipped up that he grabbed my shirt in his teeth and almost tore the sleeve off.  Which made my shirt rock even harder.