At the time of this writing, I’m in Day Five of my new life. I didn’t enter the witness relocation program, leave a treatment facility or make a daily affirmation. Rather I entered fatherhood. It has been one of the most amazing, scary, humbling and best weeks of my life. I know many readers can relate. Words can’t even explain the admiration for my wife.
A million things have gone through my mind the past few days, such as is my son eating enough, where are those socks and where did that come from? I know a million more things will pop up in the next week or two, as well. But I’ve also taken a little time to look ahead a few years, though I’ve been told over and over again to enjoy this time like no other because it goes so fast. And typing in “Day Five” at the beginning of this column gives me a small hint of that.
But right now I can’t mesmerize him by showing him the beautiful green grass on a baseball field, or make his eyes pop out of his head when he touches a basketball rim for the first time. I want to teach him how to hold a baseball bat, toss a spiral and, since the soccer fields are so close by, kick a goal. But right now all I can do is hold him, which is a pretty good deal.
I want to sit and watch a game and explain things like a first down, penalty kick, free throw and explain why a batter is walking to first base. I can’t wait until his eyes can focus enough that when I read him books of dinosaurs and cuddly animals, I can throw in some baseball history books and explore why Babe Ruth, the Santa Claus-like figure waving a stick, is more remembered than any president in the U.S. Most of it won’t register most of it, but it will be a great experience for me.
It might be a tad more difficult down the line when I have to explain why Henry Aaron is the real home run king even though some other guys have more home runs. So I enjoy these first years, right?
I made it a point not to paint his room some garish colors of a major sports team, but that doesn’t mean I soon won’t be dressing him in those same garish colors for his first of many public appearances. Friends and family will find it cute, but I’ll be even prouder if, or when, he picks out those same types of clothes on his own later in life.
He already received his first pack of baseball cards, courtesy of the editor of this magazine. Oh yes, I’ll encourage him to collect if he wants to pursue it, but he’ll collect for the same reason I did growing up, and that’s to look over the cards of his heroes, memorize their statistics and keep those players’ names in his head 20 years later when he runs into those heroes on the show circuit or at a chance meeting in a hotel. But for now, that pack will remain unopened and stay with other artifacts from the week, such as photos, bracelets and those inky footprints.
People have already asked, since I am an avid Milwaukee Brewers fan, when he will make his first trip to the ballpark. My wife insists it should be this year, but I’m a little hesitant on that. I would like him to make it through his first few visits to the grocery store before plunging him into the middle of 42,000 fans on $2 beer night (note: those nights don’t exist except in minor-league parks, but you get my point).
However, when he does make it to his first game, he won’t leave my lap and I’ll babble on and on about the game unfolding before him and he won’t register a thing. But I won’t care. We’ll take about how the Milwaukee Braves because the Milwaukee Brewers and how the names in the outfield, from Jackie Robinson to Aaron to Robin Yount were some of the best to play in the game. I’ll tell him how the roof wasn’t always here and how those cold games in April were brutal, until the Brewers won. I’ll show him Bernie Brewer’s slide, those too-large-for-life racing sausages and have him sit in the giant glove in the interactive zone.
I can’t wait, I just can’t wait.
But wait I will. For now, I’ll wait for the first time he opens his eyes and recognizes me, his first wake-less night and for when the dog licks his face and he smiles.
In the meantime, I’ll make sure he doesn’t have to wait for me for anything, and I think that’s the best I can do.
Sorry for the proud-parent column, but this was a week with no deadlines, phone calls (except congratulatory), card release e-mails and it has been one of the best ever. I have someone else to share sports with – my son.