I was lucky enough growing up to have a step dad who wanted to coach me in Little League.
While my step dad and myself don’t have the closest relationship, he was present and always did what dad’s were supposed to do. He would pick up me and my friends from school, we’d pile into his truck and take us to football practice. He coached little league and took me to Boy Scouts. While my daddy story isn’t perfect, I’m realizing that I was luckier than most in my situation. He did all of the sports stuff right. He laid the foundation for my love of the game.
I’ve had a few days off and decided that I would go to my son’s school and have lunch with him for the very first time. It was something I wanted to experience with Jack and now that he’s in a routine, I figured it wouldn’t trigger any additional anxiety for him. But when I told Jack this morning of my plan, his response surprised me. He looked me dead in the eyes and said,
“But daddy, daddies don’t visit kids at school. Only mommies and grandmas.”
That broke my heart to hear these words. Growing up with a unique daddy situation myself, I know that every kid has a story, whether good or bad, each kid has one. I asked Jack if he has ever seen a daddy or grandpa at school and he said no. So initially, he was reluctant of me going.
As I continued to reassure him that I would love to eat lunch with him, his reluctance turned into joy and as I dropped him off this morning, he grinned and said “I’ll see you at lunchtime!” Just as expected, his face lit up and we had a great time. All of the kids were very excited to see me, even though most had never met me. I opened honey and butter packages for the 6 kids at my table, learned each child’s middle name and how to spell them, and learned that none of the other kids Jack’s age eat very much at school, especially vegetables. It was hard to keep my attention on Jack as it was split 7 ways. But I don’t think it mattered. His face was glowing the entire time. My presence was enough.
I was proud to be there…to be HIS daddy. To be HIS coach.
We all need a coach.
We need someone who can be the moral compass when we begin to lose focus. Whether you’re a young kid at school excited to see somebody else’s daddy and crave attention or you are a 33 year old man who has recently lost your coach…it’s important to be a part of a team. Maybe find a hitting coach who will tell you your mechanics are off and how to not get behind early in the count. A coach who will tell you what pitch to expect in certain situations. A coach who will point out your weaknesses, even though it may sting. We just need someone present for us.
While I know it’s not my responsibility to be a coach to each of those kids who may not have someone at home.
But what I can do is coach my son to love his classmates. To accept all onto his team. To never turn down a teammate and to make each of his friends feel his love. Some of us may never be lucky enough to have our own coach. But each of us deserves to be a part of a team.
I’m raising player/coaches. While I hope they don’t turn out like Manny Ramirez, I hope they grow into the type of men that their peers look up to. Respected teammates who will be the first one out of the dug out, giving hi fives and praise.
Who was your coach and what was the most important thing they taught you?