Some folks might find this behavior deplorable. I’m not talking about the behavior of the children. I’m talking about the behavior of their granddad. Or maybe the behavior of their dad who surely learned such things from their granddad and passed it along to his own children. From wherever they learned it, or from whatever heritage it ultimately showed itself, the kids did the right things. I am proud of those youngsters. And of their dad. Deplorable or not.
I’ve written on this topic before. It’s not that I am obsessed with the deplorable actions of adults and children and grandchildren. I am obsessed with teaching children the right ways to do things. When my son was a child, I taught him to do this right. I taught his young friend Tiffany the same thing. You may recall what I wrote a while back. “T-Bone’s” parents no longer speak to me. To them, my teachings were very much deplorable. But by God, she learned to do it right. And I taught the child.
I spent Thanksgiving day with my son and his family. The past few years, they have developed a Thanksgiving day tradition of playing touch football in the yard. I was kind of looking forward to feeling like a Kennedy again. My brother, sister-in-law, nieces, brother-in-law, son and I used to spend a Thanksgiving hour or so in a park on Edgewood Avenue in Jacksonville, Florida every fourth November Thursday for a few years. We played the touch ball.
It didn’t quite happen this year, though. Instead of a family cool-weather sport tussle, the day’s sporting event transformed a few of us again into boys and girls of summer. “Sis-Boom,” my granddaughter, approached me early in the afternoon before we carved and gorged, and asked me if I wanted to play. Baseball! Of course I did, and so we did. It was just the two of us for a few minutes. That girl can throw! She can hit pretty well, too. But she did something else that day that was extraordinary.
After about ten minutes or so in my son’s back yard, playing baseball with just my granddaughter, a few others joined us. The four-year-old grandson, “Seth-Man,” played with us. But it seems that he is a bit too young really to understand the nuances – the true ones – of the game. He played well, and he had fun. He just doesn’t yet know what it takes to be a real ball player. His older brother, the five-year-old, does, though. “McGruder” can throw and hit about as well as Sis-Boom. And, just like his sister, he knows the nuances.
I was the pitcher that day. That role took me back a few years – to our wooded driveway when my son was young and where I pitched underhand to him and to his friend T-Bone. And just like “Matt-Scatt” and his friend, so too did my granddaughter and grandson know the right things to do.
Thanksgiving afternoon, as I was about to make my first pitch to Sis-Boom, she did just what T-Bone did so many years ago. And when it was my grandson McGruder’s time to bat, he did just what his dad did so many years ago. And just as I said to both T-Bone and Scatt back then, so too did I say to Sis-Boom and McGruder:
“Keep your eye on the turnip.”
They each nodded their heads in acceptance of my advice. They each pounded the bat into the dirt, took a couple of practice swings, looked at me, dropped the tip of the bat to the ground, leaned forward and did what their granddad taught their dad who then taught them.
They did the extraordinary. Both of them.
They each spit in the dirt. Right on home plate.
My deplorable responses? First to Sis-Boom then to McGruder?