The Happy Homemaker: "The Baseball Game", "The Cheetos Negotiation", "At the Heart of Pierpont" and "Temper, Temper"

posted Nov 3, 2013, 11:31 AM by Terrence Moss   [ updated Nov 3, 2013, 11:34 AM ]

I inadvertently started a new story series on my blog that began with a rather amusing but improbable imagining of me as a husband and father. So I’ve decided to start posting them here three (or in this case, four) at a time…

“The Baseball Game”

I don't go to Pierpont's baseball games very often because he says that my being there makes him nervous. Plus, Bradley coaches the team so that constitutes a lot of their bonding time and I don't want to intrude on that.

I don't exactly know how I make Pierpont nervous but I won't ask him because a) I'm afraid of the answer and b) I'm even more afraid that there isn't one. My guess is he thinks that since I don't play the game, then I must not know how to follow it and he doesn't want me to embarrass him or myself by asking Bradley constant questions -- as if I would do that to any coach in the middle of a game.

I don't know why I'm projecting this on Pierpont because I do know enough about baseball to follow it, but when you try to get into the mind of an 8-year-old being raised by me anything number of things could be at play. Plus, a part of me thinks he thinks I'll show up in plumes, sequins and glitter -- which I would only do as part of a lesson for him about stereotyping people.

We should probably stop letting him watch Modern Family with us. I know he thinks I'm the Cam between Bradley and I.

Where is all this mental angst this coming from? He's eight!...and still trying to perfect the art of walking without tripping or making contact with walls and door frames.

But I digress...

Bradley and Pierpont's baseball team made their league playoffs again this year. Just as inexplicable it is to me that my going to Pierpont's games makes him nervous, I find it just as inexplicable that he actually asked me to come watch his first playoff game.

Try to figure out the mind of an 8-year-old being raised by me. He's nervous about me coming to regular season games when the stakes aren't as high, but he wants me at a playoff game when an entire season is on the line.

But don't think I didn't jump at the chance. It's moments like that I hate being a parent.

And don't think I didn't get into the face of a parent who had the audacity and the unmitigated gall to yell at my son (and everyone else's but his own) for striking out his first two at-bats.

It's moments like that I love being a parent.

Bradley, the COACH, wasn't yelling. His teammates weren't yelling. None of the parents were yelling. No one in the stands was yelling. Besides, the opposing team's pitcher was very good. He somehow picked up on and capitalized on Pierpont's batting weakness. Like Kit in A League of Their Own, he has a hard time with the high ones but can't avoid swinging at them. This pitcher is smart, too, because he doesn't always throw high ones. This confuses poor Pierpont because in his mind it would make sense for the pitcher to throw high ones at him to get three quick strikeouts. Instead, he mixes it up to get inside Pierpont's head. (Kid's baseball is certainly a lot more strategic now than when my younger brother was hitting them off a tee 20 years ago).

Bradley has worked with Pierpont, but to little avail. Sometimes I YouTube the climactic scene from A League of Their Own when Kit finally hits the high one and tell them that one day something will just click. Perhaps it'll be a height thing. Perhaps it'll be a weight thing. Perhaps it'll be a situational thing. Perhaps it'll be a mind thing. Who knows?

I tried to explain this to Larry Loudmouth at the sidelines. Bradley kept motioning for me to sit down and let him handle Larry but my responding look told him we both know that wasn't going to happen.

What did happen was lot a of baiting on my part to get Larry ejected from the game -- not by Bradley, but by the muscular six-foot-eight inch 260-pound father of one of Pierpont's teammates who does crowd security at major celebrity events in Los Angeles. He has an intimidating look but a heart of gold when it comes to family, friends, neighbors and acquaintances.

Of course Larry didn't know that. So when the unassuming Dan seemingly came out of the woodwork (quite a feat for a man of his size) to diffuse Larry's cannon, Larry Loudmouth suddenly became Larry Leaving to his Lexus.

But I'm learning that as a parent, sometimes you can't win for trying.

Pierpont asked Bradley to eject me from all future playoff games.

But don't think I didn't show up anyway and just watch from the car.

 

“The Cheetos Negotiation”

Bradley doesn't always eat as well as he should. Neither do I, but my occasionally bad eating habits aren't as deleterious to my health and well-being as Bradley's are to his. For instance, Bradley is allergic to avocado, but that doesn't stop him from loading some up with pepper, hot sauce and bacon pieces. His throat swells up but, according to him, it's "nothing an epipen can't handle."

Bradley thinks he's being screamingly funny when he says this. I do not. Pierpont laughs because he sees Bradley laughing but pays no attention to the fact that I am not -- nor should he. We want him to laugh as much as he can before the realities of daily life start giving him no reason to do so.

In the meantime, Bradley also puts pepper jack and turkey on Ritz crackers, snacks on small packs of Cheetos like they're a new food group and balances all this out with Icee frozen cups.

None of these things are on my grocery list, but because I'm not able to get the grocery stores to put the sign I made with Bradley's picture on it and a caption that says "DO NOT SELL THIS MAN ANY FOOD" next to all their checkout stands, then all I can do is raise an eyebrow and roll my eyes as I watch his inner snack monster take over. And then I wait for the snack monster to start attacking his thyroid so that I can take him to the emergency room when that thyroid starts waving a white flag. It's a condition we call ribonucleosis because it sounds clinical.

The ribonucleosis exhausts Bradley for a few days, but he jokes that since he statistically only has another THIRTY years left to live, it doesn't really matter what he eats or how.

It's one of those rare instances where his logic is more illogical than my own. So while I've started trying to wean him off some of these deleterious snacks, he generally gives me a lot of push back:

"Give me Cheetos or give me death!" he told me the other day, for instance.

"You can have Cheetos once a week. That's it. Non-negotiable," I countered. "And I will employ Pierpont as a spy."

"No."

"Fine. Then once a month."

"Fine. But we'll have sex as often as I get Cheetos."

"If it keeps you around longer, then so be it. Besides, I'm confident you couldn't stick to that anyway."

"I'm pretty stubborn."

"As am I. Unless you're taking kissing away as well."

"I can. Good call."

I think about this for a moment and then come in for a re-approach. "Family size, then. Every other week. But I control the portions. And I still get kisses."

"No."

"Fine. I don't need control over the portions but I will nag you about them. And I still get kisses."

"Deal."

I shook my head and the kissed Bradley on the top of his. "I love you."

"And I love you."

"You're a pain in the ass."

"Not until I get my strength back."


“At the Heart of Pierpont”

What I love the most about being Pierpont's dad, and I don't think I could be one to any other child except him, is how one day he can piss me off but the next day say or do something that makes me love him more than makes any sense.

Father's Day was last weekend, but Bradley and I don't do much for it out of fairness to Pierpont so that he doesn't have to make two cards or, when he's older, buy two gifts.

At one point, Bradley and I thought about having one of us take Mother's Day, but that felt weird. Instead, we decided to shift the focus of the day to our own fathers.

Bradley's father lives in eastern Arizona, so we meet him halfway so that he can see Pierpont and, as is his preference, do Father's Day in reverse by showering the boy with gifts and taking us out to eat.

My father still lives in New Jersey (where I grew up), so we have Pierpont write him a letter earlier in the week to send with my own Father's Day card and gift (which is typically just a gift certificate to Baker's Square -- a regional restaurant with great pie my father has always loved). On the actual day, we put Pierpont on a Skype call with him.

***************************

On Monday, I went to pick Pierpont up from school. He brought over a classmate named Jake that I had seen him talking to a couple times but never met until then. Pierpont asked if he could come over for that afternoon. And stay for dinner.

I talked to the after-school monitor and asked who the child's parents were so that I could return him to them and introduce myself since our sons were apparently friends. The monitor told me that he's picked up by his grandmother, who watches him until his mother gets off work.

I told Pierpont that Jake couldn't come over that day but we could wait around to meet his grandmother and plan a playdate for another time.

Either Jake is quite the handful, doesn't have too many friends or his grandmother could use a break, but she was more than happy to allow a nearly-perfect stranger take him for an afternoon later in the week.

"You have a kind face and a good spirit about you," she told me.

But that wasn't enough for Pierpont. On Tuesday, he asked Bradley if Jake could come to his Little League practice. On Wednesday, he wanted Jake to come with us to a local jazz concert. On Thursday, he asked if Jake could join the Little League team and got mad at Bradley for telling Jake that since the season was well underway, he'd have to come out for the team the following season. And as I figured would be the case come Friday, Pierpont wanted the playdate we scheduled with Jake's mother to be a sleepover.

I took a liking to Jake, who is far more well-behaved than I imagine he must be with his grandmother based on her willingness to send him off with us, but I was also getting concerned about Pierpont's obsession with him. Bradley, on the other hand, was far more understanding -- and with good reason. He found out more information from Jake's mother than I did from Jake's grandmother.

As it turns out, Jake's father died last year and Pierpont told him that since he had two dads, they could share us.

My damn kid can be so damn sweet.


Temper, Temper” 

Bradley is pretty even-keeled...but it's those even-keeled people you have to watch out for when it comes to losing their temper. Still, there's something attractive to me about him when he does -- not that I egg him on (although it's tempting to do so).

On the rare occasion where Bradley does lose his temper, it's during times when he's working a lot because he's not sleeping well. And when he gets really tired, he gets a little mean.


Shortly after we started dating, he was telling me about a cousin he was angry with for not coming over to sit with their grandmother as she had offered and agreed to. From what I could tell, his cousin had a legitimate excuse.

But I made the mistake of telling Bradley that as he was driving me home from one of our early dates.

That was the last time I made such a mistake.

He felt terrible as soon as his profanity-laden diatribe about how I don't know shit about anything ended, but I still asked him very calmly to pull over and let me out so I could walk the remaining seven miles back to my apartment.

That made him feel even worse but he soon made...um...amends.

A few weeks later, he organized a "getting to know you" dinner with me and his family (mother, father, sister, brother and grandmother) because most of our early exchanges were quick hellos as I was picking him up or dropping him off so the reviews of me from his family were better than mixed but less than rave. He purposed the dinner to allow his family to pepper me with questions and for me to answer those questions by regaling them with my life stories -- which he says is what drew him to me.

The dinner was on a Saturday evening that fell during a busy time for him at work so he did all the prep that morning before going in. He was living with his grandmother at the time and asked her to put a pot roast into the oven at 4 o'clock so that he could finish putting the dinner together when he got home at 5 o'clock to have dinner on the table by 6 o'clock. 

He came home at 5 o'clock to a grandmother who was sitting on the couch watching a Golden Girls marathon on TV Land and a dinner roast sitting in the refrigerator.

Bradley asked her why and she told him that it was because it was his dinner and she didn't want to mess anything up. He flipped out because all she had to do was take the roast out of the refrigerator, put it in the oven and set it to 350 degrees. 

Obviously, I wasn't there for this but when I arrived for the dinner, he pulled me back outside, told me what happened and informed me that his grandmother had opted out of the dinner. I told him to apologize and assure her that from now on he would only lose his temper with me. I figured that if what I experienced in the car was the worst he could do, then I could handle it without having to walk seven miles in order to make a point.

Since then, I've weened him off losing his temper with his family so now he only loses it with me. I'd like to think they appreciate that -- if they've noticed at all.

And since we acquired Pierpont, Bradley's temper has abated quite a bit because he won't dare lose it in front of his son. Plus, he delights so much in little man and has such a soft spot for him that whenever he is around, any loss of temper is extinguished before it even flares up.

So if I sense that something I've said or done is going to cause Bradley to lose his temper and Pierpont is nearby, I grab him and hold him up in front of my face while I explain what happened.

But I don't know what I'm going to do when Pierpont gets too big or too old for me to do that.