Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentines's Day

Happy February 14th to all. It's my nephew's birthday too.....happy birthday!

Just dropped Tink off at work. My plan was to go and exercise but I had no motivation whatsoever, so I grabbed a grande bold at Starbucks and went home to read the paper before work. Glancing at my horoscope (which I never read), it says..."squeeze in a quick walk today..." So, I have added it to my list of things to do even if I am quickly walking around midnight, I will squeeze it in....

This is the first Valentine's Day when Buddy is not home. I am still adjusting to the firsts with his departure. I really miss the kid but know that he is where is supposed to be, doing what he has dreamed of....for a very long time. So now I am going to reflect on his junior year in high school. Before the season, he passed his driver's test and was ready to take the car wherever he wanted...right? Wrong! As a kid who attended a private school, his classmates had cars waiting for them when they received their licenses. Mustang & VW convertibles, BMWs, Volvos, used Mercedes, Hondas, and those cute little 2 seat cars were beginning to line up in the parking lot. Poor Buddy was still taking the bus and not happily. There were mornings when I could hear him muttering loudly under his breath as to the unfairness of it was not fair.....despite his protests that he was the ONLY kid not driving to school, we did not acquiesce. The bus was free (sort of), dropped him off in front of school and was always on time. A new car for a 16 year old was not free and I was not going to buy him a car. He was going to have to tough it out on the bus with the rest of the kids whose parents were unreasonable like me.

Back to baseball.....between sophomore and junior years, Buddy played on a travel team. The team played in tournaments on the east coast. Gradually, after a horrendous sophomore year with the high school team, Buddy began to feel confident again. He started at first base and pitched each weekend and once during the week. He pitched well and these tournaments were national. Sadly, the bats around him were "silent" so his win-loss record was not stellar, but his overall performance was pretty good. His batting average was the highest on the team. He never hit home runs but he always made contact and never struck out.

It was fun watching those games since two of his high school team mates were also on the travel team. For two weeks in July, we traveled to Florida and Georgia for tournaments. The Florida tournament was great fun. The kids played at the Red Sox training facilities and they loved it. The games were competitive although their record was only .500. Buddy pitched in the heat against some of the best players in the country and had his favorite catcher behind the plate. There were college and pro scouts in the stands moving around from game to game.

The actual point of these tournaments was to attract the attention of a college coach. Buddy did that. With the showcases that he attended and the tournaments that he pitched in, there were several coaches who contacted his high school coach for more information.  I could picture his coach's reaction in my mind when a college coaches called him....."are we talking about the kid I call psycho?" "him?" "really, you think that he is good?" I am sure that he had no idea that Buddy was a decent player, because he relegated him to the bench keeping the book and chasing balls. So, in a way, this was interesting to watch. The coach honestly did not know that he could play....had no idea whatsoever....

Anyway, during his junior year, there were a number of key events that I can recall like they were yesterday. The most memorable incident occurred during the preseason. Buddy was a few minutes late for the start of a pregame practice. He finally got to drive the car, but had to drop his father off at work first. When he got to the field, he could not find a parking space since the school was having a big event in the gym. It took him ten minutes to find a spot on the other side of campus. He grabbed his gear and ran. When he arrived a few minutes late, the coach looked at him and screamed.....I will paraphrase...."you are @@@@77-ing late.....get the %#$@ out of here...we do not want or need you...get the #%$&&# out of here....." After being humiliated once again in front of his teammates (remember Buddy was always early and this was the first time in 10 years of playing ball that he was a few minutes late)....he went back to the car. I was sitting in the stands waiting for the game to begin and did not see my son. He called me in tears...."mom, he just screamed at me, told me to leave...he told me I am never going to pitch again...." I asked him where he was and if he wanted me to get involved. He said that he was in the car.

After a few minutes and talking with his dad, he decided to go back to the coach and apologize for his lateness. The coach uttered a few more expletives and told Buddy to stay out of his way and sit on the bench out of sight (which he did). The team won the game, but my heart was broken for my son. This was the first time he was late, yet other kids were late all the time. I desperately wanted to take the coach down a peg or two (figuratively, of course). I had visions of what I could do from a parent's perspective. I wanted to go to the head master or athletic director and complain about his language. I was going to approach the coach and tell him that his interpersonal skills were abysmal...I had plans...many many plans...then I was told by my son and husband to "butt out."...?butt out? What! OK, so I "butted out" but I never forgot what had transpired.

Upon reflection of this incident, I must say that I have never had a conversation with this coach even though I had multiple opportunities to chat. As much as I would like to forgive and forget, I can forgive...but I won't forget this one. When I saw the devastation from the event and felt Buddy's agony, I tried to weave a shield around him to offer skills  for when this happened again. With hot-headed coaches in any league, things like this are going to happen. Parents and friends have to offer support and help to pick up the pieces and be there for when the trouble erupts. I have made it a policy to attend as many games as possible, whether he plays or not, just to be a support in the stands...a friend..a confidant....someone who is trustworthy and always has his back.

With that said, I have to go to work...have a great Monday!

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