I never was athletic as a child. My ideal summer days revolved around reading a book from the comfort of my bed in the air conditioning! I did, however, enjoy playing catch with my dad in the afternoons after he got home from work, and we would go over to the park to play baseball on sunny weekends. We had a minor league team in my hometown, so we would go to some games as a family during the season. It was a tradition to get a hot dog there, too, and my dad taught me how to properly load up a hotdog with ketchup on one side of the bun, mustard on the other side, then onions and relish down the middle of the dog. I always needed extra napkins, but that didn’t matter as much as spending time with my dad at the ballpark. He pitched in Little League, with a few no-hitters, and though we never watched baseball at home, I think he enjoyed the ballpark for the thrill of seeing how much my brother and I enjoyed it along with him.
Though I was never really active as a kid, I’ve become active as an adult. Before we had kids, I told my wife that I was concerned I wouldn’t be able to keep up with them if they wanted to play sports, since that wasn’t really something I did. She reassured me that it didn’t matter what I did with my kids so long as I did something with them. “Plus,” she added, “they might not have the same interests as you, but the important thing is to support them in what they like to do.” Now that my sons are two and three, I’m realizing more and more how important that time together with them is, even at this young stage. We run outside, we go on walks, we play at the playground, but lately, one of the things that they love to do most is play baseball!
The boys got a tee ball set for their birthday this year, and AJ (the two-year-old) is pretty adept at putting the ball on the tee himself, then knocking it off the tee while one-handing the bat. He hits it every time, too. He’s very deliberate in his movements, so this approach does not surprise me. JJ (three years old) is a little more daring at trying things than his younger brother, so he quickly wanted to bypass hitting the ball off the tee in favor of me pitching it to him.
The boy’s three years old, and he wants me to PITCH it!
Now, granted, I pitch it underhand, and I’m only standing only a few feet away, but the boy will hit the ball about 50% of the time. (His batting average might be better if my pitches were a little better, but a three-year-old really has no strike zone; or maybe he’s all strike zone.) I was so surprised! He has such a great attitude, too. When he misses, he says “Almost!” and keeps trying. When he hits it, his whole face lights up. I love seeing him react to his accomplishments!
One of my main reasons in exercising and being healthy is to be able to keep up with my boys no matter what they do. And finding ways to play with them keeps me active (and young), too.