Saturday, August 11, 2007

Change of season

The baseball season ended for Youngest Son as July ended; freshman football began this week. Today is the First Day of Hitting.

During the last week the kids have practiced long hours in the heat (it's been in the 90's pretty much every day in Chicago this week) -- but without pads. Now it gets interesting. Now there's contact.

Youngest Son explains it this way: There are nearly 90 boys out for freshman football, he says, but maybe only 50 really want to play. The others are there because their fathers want them there (I don't think the mothers every really push their sons into football) or else they're in it for a jersey.

There are no cuts; everyone who tries out will make the team. But not all will "see the field" with any regularity -- that is, there are some who won't get much playing time. Even in "B" team scrimmages. But they, too, will have jerseys... which they will wear proudly... particularly when girls are rumored to be nearby.

Nothing, apparently, says hunk-a hunk-a prospective man to a 14-year old girl than a pimply-faced, braces-wearing 14-year old boy in a football jersey.

And, inasmuch as freshman games are played at times when there are few teenaged witnesses likely to be in attendance (9:00 am on Saturday mornings), any person wearing a jersey is free to, shall we say, enhance his role on the squad.

This is even easier where the boys go to one high school and the girls to another: No one is necessarily available at the lunchtable to correct any disinformation that may have been given on Saturday night at the Freshman Mixer. Although, I presume, with the widespread use of Facebook, the lies will probably have to be more creative.

After today -- the First Day of Hitting -- the coaches will have a better idea of who can play and who will be most effective standing on the sidelines, cheering his comrades on. But during the week just past the boys were pretty much free to volunteer for any position. The head coach chided one boy who claimed too much expertise at too wide a variety of positions: "Son," he said, "I see you playing a lot this year at end, guard, and tackle. At the end of the bench, guarding the water cooler, and tackling anyone who tries to get at it out of turn."

Middle Son -- still at home -- has listened to his younger brother's tales of freshman football with obvious nostalgia. Last night he checked to see if his brother had correctly inserted the pads; he offered advice on boiling Youngest Son's mouthpiece; he helped Youngest Son adjust his helmet.

Inasmuch as the helmet adjustment consisted largely of bopping his brother on the head multiple times, Long Suffering Spouse and I began to suspect he was enjoying this assistance on multiple levels.

"You know," Middle Son said at one point, "I think our football camp starts tomorrow. I could play wide receiver." And he probably could: 6'4" with huge hands -- he's not blessed with blazing speed, but we are talking about a Division III program. A D-III football program that has not enjoyed much success of late. (His school's baseball team is much more successful, the proud father boasted.)

"And it would get me out of fall baseball, too," Middle Son added, and then I realized he was really thinking about it. From what I've seen these first two years, Fall baseball in Division III is a whole lot of effort which culminates in one day -- only one day -- of meaningless games.

There was a pause. Middle Son was sitting on the floor in our den but he was looking at some point in the future. "Of course," he concluded, "Coach would kill me."

And then I knew he'd thought it through enough.

So I'm here at the Undisclosed Location this Saturday morning, shortly to put this aside and start putting away some of the overwhelming stacks of paper on my desk and maybe -- please! -- starting to catch up on my timesheets. I'll leave at Noon to pick up Youngest Son from the First Day of Hitting.

I'll get him home and fed and watered, then Long Suffering Spouse and I will head right back out again. Middle Son still has one more summer game in which to pitch; his summer league playoffs may end today if his team wins both games of today's doubleheader.

So Middle Son couldn't have gone out for football today anyway.

But he feels the change of seasons just like most of the rest of us do -- as an observer, with a touch of wistfulness. Which means he's growing up.


Empress Bee (of the high sea) said...

well curmy at first i thought to myself, "self, oh no, yet another sports thingy" but then! no! i see it is about teens and then i was fine. my cold sweat turned into a feel good moment. thanks...

smiles, bee


Jean-Luc Picard said...

It's all part of growing up.

Linda said...

Sometimes getting old can truly be a bummer and that touch of wistfulness becomes more a pang of pain at times as you realize that there are so many things that you're leaving further and further behind.

But it's inevitable - kind of like that whole death and taxes thing that Ben Franklin used to talk about.

As to the tag I gave you, yep - you pick whatever or whoever you shouldn't say things around and then go from there. It can be a judge, it can be a prosecuting attorney, it can be the guy at the concession stand, it can be anybody in the whole wide world - your choice! I look forward to your post, take your time with it!

Lynn said...

My son, Ten just finished playing flag football. His dad thought it would be a good way for him to learn the game. (You can be sure that I, as the mother, will NEVER encourage him to play tackle). Now he has started soccer practice, and this week he will find out what fall ball team he is on. I've been wondering when do they decided on just ONE sport? But hearing the wistfulness from your Middle Son, I guess I will continue to enjoy the freedom that Ten's youth brings to him.

Barb said...

They do seem to grow up when you aren't looking, don't they?

I still have a program from a high school football game I attended many eons ago. You're right about the pimply faced boys. I used to think they were all so hot. :)

I have a special sticky post up!

landgirl said...

Like Empress Bee, I had to see this as a coming of age rather than a sports post to really appreciate it.
The season change up here is betokened by the early arrival of the migrating geese. They come here when the weather up way way north gets bad. Hard to imagine that this looks balmy, even to geese.

Shelby said...

Skittles is always so funny.. I was gonna say something like that.. but her comment will do.

My kids are growing up faster than the weeds in my yard.

I took my son to his first day of his senior year in high school last week. Just a few days ago, I had taken him to kindergarten. How did that happen?

katherine. said...

I loved reading your post. This is the first fall I haven't been gearing up for the High School football season. I might just miss it.