Ode to my Son
2003-05-19 - 10:16 a.m.
From the day the ultrasound confirmed the child I was carrying was a boy I knew he was Dylan. Definatly Dylan. And he would be a rugged little boy who liked bugs, dirt, sports, and wrestling. I pictured him in Little League. I saw him climbing trees and trying to ride his bike over little make -shift ramps. One day while I was out shopping for baby items, I came across an outfit that I had to have. It was grey with navy blue vertical stripes and a little bat and ball logo on it. It had a cute little matching baseball cap. Perfect. When Dylan was 2 months old, I had portrait taken in the little outfit. When I gazed at the picture on the wall I fantasized about the day I'd be sitting in the stands proudly cheering him on. As time went on he grew quickly. He was very tall and stalky for his age. At the age of 2 he looked to be about 4 or 5. But he was very cautious. The only thing I had right about him was the dirt. His face was a constant dirt magnet. Thats about it as far as my previous perception of him went. He didn't like to play rough and was fearful of new things. He was always worried about getting hurt so as he got older he refused to learn to ride a bike, or wrestle, or climb trees, or ride amusement park rides, or roller skate. He didn't want to be in any sports. This just couldn't be. Since he was so big for his age and yet so timid he was often bullied by other children and teased constantly. His sensitivity had him in tears constantly. I protected him as much as I could but I couldn't always be there. I signed him up for karate to gain his confidence. His Dad joined the class too, even though it was for children and he was the only adult in there. We wanted to support Dylan as much as we could. The day of his first tournament, he got up in front of a huge crowd and performed his moves. He didn't win or even place but my heart was bursting with pride and my eyes welled with tears as I watched my little guy try. I hoped I'd found something right for him. It didn't last long though. As soon as he found out he'd have to spar with others to get to higher belts and in tournaments, he refused to go. The fear of pain was too much and he quit. Years passed and the teasing became more and more. Dylan stayed in the house. We bought him a Play Station and Gameboy but he quickly became obsessed and abandoned everything else. We had to limit his time to 30 minutes a day. I tried to encourage other things for him. I bought legos and tried putting them together with him. I read books to him and walked with him. Nothing interested him. I couldn't force him to go out and be ridiculed and I couldn't get him interested in anything other than video and computer games. I resigned myself to thinking "Well, maybe he'll be another Bill Gates or something" Then, I found out we were moving to Vienna. I had new hopes. The children here are much friendlier and welcomed him instantly. He started going outside and running and playing. One day, I looked out my kitchen window to see a kid on a bike whizzing down a hill at top speed. To my total suprise it was Dylan. He didn't learn to ride a bike till he was 8 and only rode 4 or 5 times. It was that fear of injury and pain. And there he was racing around. In school he had a PE class he enjoyed and gushed about constantly. So I took a chance. I signed him up for baseball. He was not thrilled at the idea and more than a little hesitant. The day of the first practice he insisted I go with him. At 5 ft. and 110 pounds he was easily the biggest kid out there and he is only 9. During the practice he noticed that he wasn't getting hurt. So he decided to continue. He got his uniform. This was the first time he was part of a team. He was a GIANT. The first game was a disaster. They lost 38 to 3. That didn't seem to bother Dylan at all though. He was happy that he played and was relaxing more and more as he saw there was no pain involved. The Giants had so far lost all but 1 game. Dylan had only once before even hit the ball during a game. But he was enjoying himself and had a new found enthusiasm. Thats all that mattered. I thought this was great but thought wouldn't it be something if he really hit the ball out there? Just one good play. This past Saturday they had one of the final games before the Playoffs. I forgoed the biggest annual fleamarket to go to the game. I put on my matching GIANTS t-shirt and ballcap. We made it a family trip.
While Dylan was in the field, I caught him checking to see if I was watching several times. He started getting serious. His first at bat, he got 4 balls and walked. Then he was catcher. He was so cute in the gear. Then came his second at bat. The first pitch beaned him in the back. I saw him grimace in pain as his fears were realized. I gasped and held my breath. He shook it off and positioned himself again. The second pitch came and I gave a quick "Please let him hit the ball" and then I heard the crack of the bat hitting the ball. It flew out to right field! FAR! My son hit a double! I jumped up and screamed. I was clutching the fence and foaming at the mouth. I was in hysterics screaming "Run Dylan! RUN! WHOOOOOEEEE!" The second batter was up and hit a single landing Dylan on 3rd base. The next batter up hit a foul first. The next pitch was a strike. The second time I heard Sssssttrrriiiiike 2! I closed my eyes and said "no outs. no outs. please. please.please." The next pitch and the kid hit a single and I cheered Dylan in to home. I was gushing. We high- fived and I saw a look of absolute joy and pride on my boys face. The GIANTS won the game 10 to 3. And 4 of those runs were due to Dylan. On the way home I joked and told Dylan he'd be the next Babe Ruth. Dylan is finally coming out of his shell. He is braver and gaining self-confidence. He is much happier than I have seen him in a long time. I love my boy and want him to be happy and know that I am proud of him and ALL his accomplishments no matter what they are or what he chooses to be. I know the baseball thing was my dream and it's ok if he goes on to other things. For now, I secretly feel great joy whenever he asks me to go practice playing catch with him.
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