29 April 2009

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

As a child growing up in Michigan, in the time of a.m. radio, it seemed that whenever we went somewhere in the car during the summer, there was a Detroit Tiger baseball game on. Although I was not a big fan of the game, my dad was, and so by association, I learned to like (not love like he did) the sport. And many a night on TV, my dad would be on the couch with a Pepsi, peacefully watching a game until something amazing happened that would propel him up with shouts of joy or grief. I would try to watch the game with him, hoping to get interested enough to sit for longer than 20 minutes, but after a sip of his soda, I usually ended up wandering away to do something a little more engaging, like watching the grass grow.

Don't get me wrong - I like the Tigers. I always want them to win. In fact, when they won the World Series the year I graduated from high school, I felt quite a connection to the "boys". I just never got the hang of following the game consistently.

During my younger years, I casually made a comment to my mom, who, by the way, is an active feminist, about how it was not fair that boys got to play hardball (like the Tigers), but girls only had the option to play softball. My mother promptly marched down to the city athletic department with the determination that no daughter of hers was going to miss out on hardball, just because she was a girl. Not only was I a girl, but I was a scrawny, nonathletic girl at that. But I got to play baseball. For two years. I held my head high at school wearing my "Red Sox" uniform, and put up with the teasing from the boys in my class. And the first year I played, we were the city champs! Even with my limited ball handling skills, I was key in earning top scores. Although I never hit the ball in a game, I also never struck out. I got on base every time at bat by walking! And I owned right field.

(As a side note, I was the first girl to play on the Little League team in Livonia. I even had my picture in the paper! I've seen a few girls on the current teams and feel a little connection with them. What a pioneer I was.)

I have not played baseball since elementary school, except for the mandatory gym class games. I preferred to savor the memories of riding in the back seat of the convertible listening to Ernie Harwell or cheering along with my dad in the living room. But now I have a new appreciation for America's Pastime.

It is incredible how a child's enthusiasm is contagious. When Colin wanted to start playing T-Ball, I thought it would be something fun for him to do, but he had a different idea. He LOVED it! He moved right up in the ranks of baseball, from T-Ball to coach-pitch to kid-pitch to sliding and stealing. Each spring we sit out in lawn chairs, freezing in April at 2 hour practices and sweltering in those same chairs in June at 2+ hour games.

Colin is nothing like the player that his mom was. For starters, Colin swings the bat. And he is pretty good at it, too. He regularly gets on base, and has even hit a home run or two. He loves to score and feels cheated if the inning is over before he makes it across home plate. He has seen right field a few times, but mostly he plays infield. He has a fantastic coach that moves the players around so that they can find their niche. Colin's seems to be shortstop, although he has recently discovered a knack for first base as well. And he is great at all the nuances of the game - keeping an eye on players on base, being ready to back up and support his teammates, and being aware of the coach's instructions.

Because Colin loves the game, I think I love it now, too. Through the years, as a Mom, I have discovered all kinds of things I did not know I liked as much as I do. I think orchestras, sleepovers, fire fighters, power points, trains, marching bands, and even Webkins are pretty neat. Each of these remind me of experiences with my little ones that I am very grateful for. The youthful enthusiasm is a treasure that you cannot get anywhere else, except from a child. It is awesome! I feel young just being a part of it. I would have missed out on this variety of passions if my children did not share their joys with me.

The 2009 Baseball Season is under way, for the Detroit Tigers, and for the Livonia Junior Athletic League "Mets". Although I am not sure how the Tigers are doing, I know the Mets are so ready for their season to start next week. The coach has thrown hundreds of pitches each practice, and they have been practicing in the rain, wind and sun. They have been perfecting their hits, catches, throws, stealing and slides. And the camaraderie they have is something I never felt when I played ball. Colin loves it. And because he loves it, and he shares it with me, I do love it. Thanks Colin.

08 April 2009

Drama, drama, drama

As anyone with (or has had) children - especially teens - knows, there can be a lot of drama going on in their world. It is amazing the energy, creativity and persistence that comes forth from these bundles of joy! And since I have a few teens, there is a lot of this drama flowing at my house.

But there is a bonus to all of this excitement. Just like Alex before them, Lauren and Brenden have a real flair for the dramatic, and have put it to good use. Recently, they participated in the musical "Once Upon a Mattress" at Churchill High School. It was terrific!

This was Lauren's last performance at Churchill. She has previously performed in many theater productions at CHS including Shakespeare One Act Plays, "Our Town", "Sound of Music", and "Fiddler on the Roof". It is so cool to see her grow in this art, to put a little more of herself into each character she portrays. Lauren made her stage debut depicting Wendy in "Peter Pan" when she was in elementary school. We could see even then that she was a natural in the dramatic arts. She stole the show!

In this last musical, Lauren did not play a lady, but a knight. She wore a funny little hat (won't mention what Lauren called it) to hide her hair, baggy tunics, and heavy eyebrow and side burn makeup to mask her beauty. If I hadn't known the part she was playing, I would have had a hard time picking her out! At the curtain call, she came to take her bow while pulling off her hat. The audience was amazed - It was like she had performed a magic trick! And she had. She convinced the audience that she was a knight for this small amount of time, and when the trick was revealed, they knew they had been taken in. What an amazing starlet!

This was Brenden's first performance at Churchill as a high school student. (He actually had a small part in the CHS production of "Our Town" before he was a student there.) It was very exciting to see him on the stage again! Brenden was also born with the flair for the sensational, and is no stranger to the theater, as he has performed in many plays and musicals throughout his life. He participated in the Plymouth and Dearborn community theater groups, in such productions as "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat" and "Peter Pan". He got his start in elementary school also, characterizing Aladin, and most memorably Daddy Warbucks, although "his Annie" was taller than he was. He really did have the fans after he adopted the adorable orphan and showing her NYC!

Brenden had two parts in "Once Upon a Mattress", the Quizmaster and the butler. He had some comical lines as the Quizmaster that really got the laughs, and a singing line in a song with
Princess Fred. A great start for his first gig on the high school stage. And he made an awesome video of the whole adventure (posted on his facebook). I am sure that Brenden will be involved in many more of these events, because, as he said, "This was the best experience of my life!"

I remember the talent shows at Hayes, the Christmas Eve Manger events, the hours of planning the biggest productions on Earth and setting up stages for masterful works of art. And I don't have to think back too far to recall the common teenage drama that fills our home now. I try to imagine that they are perfecting their God given talents when we endure the scenes of tragedy and delight in the young adult life. We are priveleged to be a part of the hours of training and the dedication that is put forth for the individual to become the artist. It is a long process, but eventually the prize is won, and the training may one day become complete.

And, when I see them on the stage, while the audience laughs and gasps and delights in the actors' talents, I feel sad for the onlookers who only see this part of my children. They miss out on the best part - The real part.