Every other Sunday or so, in addition to watching a new episode of The Walking Dead on AMC, I also get to take the Manchild home from his weekend with us. Over the years, certain traditions have developed. He get’s to DJ the radio, he likes to check out cool cars (and cute girls in cars) and we talk for the entire trip.
The talks can revolve around video games, school work, The Walking Dead or whatever pops into our heads. This week, after passing people playing soccer in the rain, we started talking about the sports he has been involved with over the years.
The talk started as we passed the soccer field. I looked at him and I said what I always say when I pass kids playing soccer. “DAMN I am glad you never did soccer!” (The parents always look cold and miserable at the matches!) This time, though, I added, “Your baseball games were cold enough,”
He was thoughtful for a bit, and said, “Yeah I REALLY sucked at baseball!”
“Dude, you did great.” “No, I didn’t get many hits at all!”
I looked at him, and said, “In my one year of little league I never got ONE hit.”
He then said, “Yeah, but I really sucked at speed skating, I was always last!” (Well, I can’t argue the LAST statement, here is photographic evidence of his normal races. yep he was last)
“But dude, at least you were out there, and you gave it what you had. There’s lots who can barely skate, let alone race. That’s what matters!”
“Well, I sucked at wrestling, I REALLY hated it!”
“Well, there was no coaching or teaching done, and you were thrown into varsity wrestling the good kids. You never had a chance, and we KNEW you hated it. That’s why we let you quit mid season.”
Editor’s note: The little Strohs were allowed to try any sports they wanted to, with the understanding that if they started a season, they went to all practices and the FINISHED a season. The Manchild was willing to do so here, but it was a seriously bad fit for him and caused major anxiety. Dad made an executive decision and ended this experiment half way. No regrets at all!
He then went on to say, “I just sucked at all sports!”
“DUDE!” (Have you noticed I call him Dude a lot? Its what we do) “You kicked ASS in track!”
“Oh yeah! I went to districts didn’t I?!?!”
Then I went into dad mode.
I explained to him that he had, over his growing up years (he is almost 18) done SO much more than I ever did. The one year in baseball was it for me. He has tried different things, and gave it his all every time. Winning is fun, but it sure isn’t everything!
At that he gave me the “Really? Not buying it!” look.
I then asked, “Pal, remember who you are talking to. I am NOT fast!”
“People, pass me all the time. They can be much older, or much heavier, and they still catch my butt and leave me in the dust.”
He got thoughtful for a bit and then said. “That’s right, you don’t care how long you take to finish.”
“Exactly!” Said I, “Without question I want to finish what I start. But the time it takes is rarely an issue. I ride hard, because I enjoy it, but more importantly, I want to enjoy it. I want to have fun, and see the world as it goes by
“I do push it harder if the finish line has a closing time, but otherwise, it doesn’t matter.”
I went on to tell him about my roommates in college one year, all of whom lettered in high school sports, and lorded that over me from time to time. Back then it bothered me some.
However, at my age now, I see that many high school athletes suffer from Al Bundyitis (from Married With Children.) SOME, not all by any means, live on the laurels and memories of the high school, or even college sports. Shoot, some of them haven’t worked out since then!
I would MUCH prefer to be me! I’ve climbed mountains, rafted rivers, and ride everywhere. I am in better shape now than I have ever been, and each year I have new adventures to tell stories about. I plan to do this until I can’t any more.
He looked at me, smiled, and we went back to discussing whether Rick had been bitten or cut his hand when fighting the zombies 2 weeks ago.
Later, thinking about it, I know that right now he doesn’t get a lot of exercise, though he outwalks me every time we walk around Seattle. But he is skinny and in good shape. Hell, when I was his age, all I did was drink beer and try to hit on girls. (And did both poorly!) So he is well ahead of me back then.
My hope is, as he gets older, he picks up my spirit of adventure and find something he likes to do. Once we Moutainstrohs do this, there is no stopping us.
Until them, my dad duty is to make sure he understands that he is one helluva kid, and he has always done his best. PLUS he’s done things a lot of his friends haven’t. Including a 25 mile ride with his dad!
It’s honestly the doing that matters, not how fast, or what place you finish, just do it!
The kid rocks!