Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Life of the Team Manager

I yelled at my 6-year-old last night. Was he running out into the street or doing something dangerous like that? No. Was he hitting his 2-year-old brother? No. Was he investing his allowance in risky, opaque collateralized debt obligations? No.

He was sliding in the backyard grass in his baseball pants. And why did I yell at him for that? My wife wanted to know. Here's where I explain (without defending) my anger.  Charlie had made it through his entire 105-minute little league practice/scrimmage without getting any dirt or grass stains on his pants.  I thought for once that I would not spend a half hour getting those stains out of his pants this week.  Oxi Clean is a wonderful product, and I'd never do as well as I have in the clean-pants quest, but it still takes time and elbow grease to get those darn pants clean.  After wearing those miraculously-clean pants home, he slid in the backyard while playing catch, putting a big grass stain right on the right knee.  Cue daddy anger.

Paige talked me down, and I went back to Charlie and told him it's fine if he needs to slide in the game, but it would mean a lot to me if he would not slide just to slide for fun.  It's a lot of work getting those pants clean, I told him.  The fact is, I watch his little league practices very differently than I watch any other baseball/softball game.  Sure, I notice the hits and catches and throws, but I react more strongly to the gratuituous sliding in the diamond or the grass.  Cringing there on the sideline, I envision some parent scrubbing at that new stain in a basement in my neighborhood.

At my wife's urging, I'm going to try to let go of the notion that Charlie has to have perfectly clean pants to wear to every little league practice.  I just hope that in letting my guard down that much, I'm not letting the stains get the upper hand.

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