breakfast of champions
the little one was shlurping up the last bit of waffle a la jam, running way behind this morn, when he called out, “excuse me, can i have my sports section?”
he didn’t seem to mind the strawberry dribble running down his cheek. but he did mind when i–the one charged with shushing him out the door and down the sidewalk, somehow sweeping to the schoolhouse door before the whistle blew–did not oblige.
demurred, in fact, with a simple, and emphatic, “no, sweetheart, we’re late.”
still gulping, he protested: “but you can’t interrupt my morning schedule.”
oh. so sorry. hadn’t realized, sir, that what we had here was a routine, a way of being, a moment on which the day depended.
of course i’d noticed that, morning after morning for the last few days, while the rice chex soak up milk, you, my slugger sweet, soak up RBIs and ERAs and all those alphabet equations that long ago and always have escaped me.
but i had not heard the sound of cement drying, and this becoming what it’s been for ages long before you and who knows how long into the beyond: the rite of little boys and sometimes girls obsessed with all things round and flying through the air, cracking off of wooden sticks and diving through the dirt.
you have joined the ranks, my little reader, of those whose day begins with the shaking out and creasing of the pages where all the world’s a horserace or a ballgame or a wobbly putt rolling toward what might be a rodent hole but, in fact, was put there for the purpose of men and women wearing god-awful-colored pants and shoes with little nails jutting out from underneath the toes.
you, too, now scour the front page, search for what you call the headline, the score of last night’s game. and then, you bore inside. you up and rise off your stool or chair, you dive head-first into the somethings you call “the standings.” you report, out loud, all sorts of names and numbers. and by then i’ve lost you, i am sad to say.
just this morning, as i combed the house for keys, ran back for one last swallow of caffeine, you were broadcasting in spanish, no less, spitting out the scores–“quatro to uno,” you barked–for those who cared not to know in english.
quite impressive, little boy. you who months ago could have cared no less for all those scribbles on the page. you who thought you’d never read a number or decipher all the letters crowded there together, a herd masquerading as a word.
in a world where newspapers are whirling at the center of a storm, where few and fewer see the economic sense of printing news on paper and plopping it on your doorstep–such service, and such fear, will we go the way of the milkman and the knife sharpener, those door-to-door deliverers of goods and service, long lost–someone needs to understand the power of the third section from the front. the one marked plainly, sports.
it is from here that whole lives of depending on the news are born, are launched, are set in motion.
i have watched it time and time again. my brothers, four, my own boys, first one, and now the other.
it is reading, yes. but it is so much more. it is learning how in this dog-race world you measure up. it is boiling down the game of running bases to charts and graphs and teeny-tiny type. it is drama on the field–and life–condensed to bare-bone stats.
it is the way a boy with spoon in soggy flakes first reaches out beyond his little world, into that of world beyond.
what’s on the screen at night, becomes his in the morning, there in black-on-white, just beside his cheerios and wheaties, his waffles and his raisin toast.
it is the breakfast of champions, with a splash of milk. and orange juice on the side. hold the pulp, please. pass the syrup.
i find it wholly charming to watch as little boy begins to sift through all the chaos of the world, and claim as his the simple practice of nose-diving deep into the sports page.
at least you get no grass stains sliding into home.
do you make sense of your world through daily rituals? how and when did you learn to order your day through the religious practice of some sense-making routine? do you too have your breath taken away watching little children grow, take on the ways of grownups all too soon?
oh, what a gift it is to see a little man within the big heart of a precious boy. what a gift it is that children teach us to fin the child within us!It’s funny because I remember news stories from my childhood, long before I “should’ve been” reading the newspaper with any regularity. My dad always joked that he always read the obituaries first to make sure that he was still alive. I admit it, since I was a young girl, I always turned first to the wedding announcements in the Sunday paper. In college I didn’t watch soap operas, but my frivolous past time involved reading the wedding announcements in the sunday new york times.i just went to my first cubs game of the year, and it remains a mystery to me how people take the time to look at all the nyumbers and stats in the rbi, era, etc. columns. I guess you can say I will forever be a rookie baseball fan.your little guy has a good model from a mama who has carved out morning practices, and I’m not just talking about the cup of coffee!
long as we’re on the subject of little boys and baseball, i must unspool the latest yarn from child up above. seems the slugger got a mouthful of children’s chew last night from his coach, that would be sugary bubblegum, which i told him–on the way to little league–he must spit out, for fear of choking as he rounded first (to say nothing of the lovely sugar bath his baby teeth were swimming in). all through the game–out at second base, or whatever that spot is in the middle of the field–i saw how he had his hand up under his jersey and he seemed to be scratching like the dickens. how odd, i thought, but soon forgot. what with the rush to get home, eat dinner, and slide in bed. come this morn, when i woke him from his warm and fuzzy sheets, his little jammy top was all scrunched-up and out of place. it was then that i noticed a dark-blue/black fuzzy line that COMPLETELY circled his chest and back, detoured up under his arms, meandered down his belly. i looked more closely. i realized just what it was i saw: the little bugger must have tucked his gum wad underneath his jersey, thinking he’d retrieve it after the game. only thing was, as YOU know already, gum wads have a mind of their own. and they don’t sit very still. the gum was everywhere, stuck defiantly to his tender baby skin. (he’d leaped in bed without a shower, because–ahem–his daddy was in charge while i typed up a news story for the office). suffice it to say, he awoke with a start, as he had to stand shirtless in the bathroom while i rubbed and rubbed and tried to get the day-old baseball slugger gum from off his middle. i rubbed for 5 whole minutes, till his skin turned bubblegum pink. then i called it quits, and said we’d start up again after school today. anyone out there have a sticky gum story? poor kid was caught pink-handed….
oh dear. gum on the bod of a budding newspaper man. peanut butter does work wonders in the hair, wonder if he’d let you smear that around, better than a scrub i suppose. seems the blog here is a log of this little one’s growing- to fast for sure. the daily ritual i adhere to, have to for the plucky hens sake, is collecting the eggs. no matter the day, the dire circumstances or the weather, out i go and marvel at the daily dozen gift. i really do smile as i pick them up, one by one, sometimes talking to my girls, is that weird? i suppose, but i tell ya, those are sure some nice eggs…i’ll end with what my children think of my egg love-“what a loser….” always they say it with a smile.. and a wink. kind of like your telling here and in times to come of the bubble gum “saved” for later. bam, sorry- had to laugh at your expense, this is one story i will be telling today in my conversations, a sticky slugger stashing his chew…oh my.
peanut butter, eh? hmm. i’ll try that. because the back is clear, but the chest is still all gummy. next up: jelly. i know tomato juice works for skunk. but now 2-day-old gum. okay, where’s the skippy.p.s. you know–i know you do–that i am sooo jealous you get to make a fuss over your girls layin’ their eggs. i just used up the last two real hen eggs i have, to make a scramble for the manchild who was up till 3 doing a final project. i figgered some protein would do him right. and i was willing to sacrifice my two cherished eggs. but it’s all right, the egg folk come up to the farmers’ market tomorrow….i’ll be in line. because unlike you i do not have a hen house out back. dang.
I nod in admiration of his ingenuity – he had a goal and a dilemma – he then found a solution that met both motherly requirements for safety and his little boy need for sugar. “Bravo” I say to the little one!
Your observation that the sports section is a boy’s first foray into the world outside his own personal realm is interesting and, I think, true. My own son, now almost 18, read the sports page with fervor every day of his life from age 8 to 16 … even on trips to foreign countries where he didn’t speak the language. Then, as a junior in high school—newly gripped by passions for literature and politics and who knows what else—he announced that “sports are trivial” and has not picked up the sports section since. But he does read like a fiend (books, no less!) and spends a lot of time on the other parts of the newspaper, like the front page and the op-ed section. I think it was all those years of daily reading about baseball and the NFL and college hoops that makes him comfortable lingering there. The newsprint page may not be much longer for this world, but hopefully, all these kids will continue to feel an urgency to connect with the world through good writing and accurately reported news, wherever it is posted. Thanks for heralding your little lad’s entry into this journey with the fanfare it deserves! XO
as the mom of two girls ( and not at all a tomboy myself) the world of raising boys is somewhat foreign to me. The thing I did connect with (and laughed out loud, mind you), was the part about your little sports afficionado not getting his bath because dad was in charge…couldn’t sound more familiar…and my husband is an awesome dad…just one of those things. =)
dear mom of 2, i longed and longed to be a mama of even one sweet girl. i had practice at boys, with all those brothers and no sisters. just a little bit ago, at the cake-and-nibblies part after shabbat services, i was talking to a mama who is home alone with her four-year-old girl this weekend. i was milking her for every detail of what it is mothers and daughters get to do when given a weekend to themselves. seems her little one has taken to pretending she is the hostess of a crafting tv show, and emceees the whole gig. tomorrow they knit, today they made a scrapbook. or something. this is all foreign land to me, and i excavated it like an archeologist uncovering rare and precious treasure. i sometimes start to let myself daydream about how my life might be, but then i look at my tender-hearted rumbly-tumbly little one, and my big-thinking older one, the one who takes my breath away with his thinking and his being, and my daydreams stop. i’ve got more than i ever ever dreamed of. right here. teaching me at every turn. and both of them are waiting for me to tuck them in and say goodnight. the older one because he was up till 3 last night. the little one because he just had to take in a whole ballgame. and hallelujah we made it to the end of this long long week. happy weekend, chair people.
I find it so refreshingly wonderful that in the current rambling on of mpg’s, this little guy is immersed in all the rbi’s and era’s of the game. That’s as it should be. Little boys (and some girls, like me) live for the smack of the bat, the down-and-away pitches and the slides into home that make baseball what it is … our beloved past-time.As for the bubble gum … hmmmmmmm … I’ve put articles of clothing into the freezer to remove the sticky stuff, but I don’t recommend that method for small children. Vaseline, perhaps? I always rub a bit of the slippery petroleum jelly product onto the sticky part of a band-aid to make the removal less painful (it loosens the adhesive). Of course, I’m so late in my visit to the table that the pesky gum is probably already dealt with. Now, as for the baseball fan … cheer loud, be a die-hard fan for your team, and never lose your love of the game. With all this baseball talk, think I’ll settle down for nine innings and then rent Field of Dreams ………….
My Gum Story:It was 1963, I was age 10 and in California on my first vacation by airplane, reading Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. One of the characters, the girl who liked gum, put chewed pieces behind her ear. I thought that was a nifty idea and did so myself, en route to the motel swimming pool. One swim later, I exited the pool and discovered that my hair was matted thickly behind one ear–the ear with the gum. I was so scared that my mother would find out, that I ripped the stuck hair out in clumps, then put my hair into pig tails to hide the assymetry.