Friday, May 29, 2015

Slaying Dragons and the Tranquil Island

Bridge to the Tranquil Island?
When I was a younger man, a partner to my lovely, late wife, and a less experienced professional manager, I’d heard something about the “Tranquil Island” as it pertained to married couples who divided and conquered to achieve the kind of life afforded by personal and financial stability. In summary, the Tranquil Island was the home which, in most cases, a wife made for her working husband. So, while the husband was out slaying dragons, he could return to the love, safety, and tranquility of the home where he could tend to the wounds of battle, take sustenance, and then return, refreshed and re-armed, to the fight.

I also recall that special interest groups denounced the idea of the Tranquil Island as sexist, demeaning, and stereotyping women, but frankly, it’s a person’s right to choose the sort of life he or she wants to live and how he or she wants to live it. I believe, in a true partnership between a man and a woman, there exists two individuals but there also exists one entity through the commitment each individual makes to the other. What is good for one is good for both.

Anyway, in my and Lori’s case, we both worked before we started having babies. After The First Beautiful Daughter was born, Lori took care of the babies and created our Tranquil Island. I battled the dragons and mowed the lawn. It was our plan, when our last baby was out of diapers who as it turned out is The Favorite Son, Lori would go back to work. I would have enjoyed that chance to create a Tranquil Island for her, although she really didn't like the idea of me as a stay-at-home dad.

Ironically, she didn't think I had it in me.
Islanders: Lori, Jordan, & Katie

As a widower single father, like all varieties of single fathers, I have found it a challenge to battle the dragons without the Tranquil Island. A couple of years after becoming a single dad, I tried to return to the workforce only to discover I wasn’t able to serve two masters. After a few months, I stopped. A couple of years later, I tried, and failed, again. About a year ago, I returned to the outside-the-home workforce for the third time. Three appears to be the charm.

What's changed? Well, for one, the kids are older and more independent. That certainly doesn’t mean that the Two Beautiful Daughters and The Favorite Son don’t sill need attention, but their increased self-reliance has been extremely helpful. The other part of the equation is what I call the Artificial Tranquil Island.

Stay tuned for next week’s post when I describe the Artificial Tranquil Island.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Life Lessons Learned in Little League Baseball

Baseball Card
The Favorite Son’s little league baseball team, (the Cardinals, ironically), played a game in a nearby town. After the game, which we lost 14 – 12 on a walk-off grand slam, The Favorite Son said to me, “Dad, the umpire was biased for the other team.”

Having coached The Favorite Son’s since tee-ball, I enjoy watching a kid get his first hit, snow cone a pop-up, or score a run. After working a walk by fouling off a couple of pitches and then stealing second, one of the first year players on this year’s team asked me between innings, “How long have you been coaching?” I’m not sure if that was a dig or a compliment. I laughed, in any case.

Coaching The Favorite Son’s baseball team is not only a great way to spend time together, but baseball also provides some really great teachable moments and valuable, natural lessons.

Runners left on base: It’s a long season, but it doesn’t last forever. Make the most of your chances.

Practices: No matter how good you are, practice improves skills. Never stop learning.

Playing your position: To be successful, sometimes you have work as part of a team.

The Express Tee-Ballers;
TFS second from right.
At bat: To be successful, sometimes you have to stand alone.

The score: Whether you win or lose, you’ll (almost always) have a chance to do it again tomorrow.

Swinging the bat: You’ll get exactly zero hits if you don’t take your cuts.

Sacrifice bunts: Sometimes, you have to give up your own interests to benefit the greater good.

It’s a game of inches: The margin between winning and losing is very small. That’s just the way it is.

Hit by pitch: Sometimes, life knocks you down. When it does, you need to get up, dust yourself off, and get moving down the line.

Curveball: Don’t be surprised when life throw you a curve, because it will. Learn how to hit it.

Home runs: Big successes don’t happen very often. Relish them when they do, but it’s the many little successes that win games.

Triple plays, hitting for the cycle, and George Brett's “Pine Tar” incident: Occasionally, you’ll see something that doesn’t happen very often or has never happened. Enjoy the show.

.  .  . and, for The Favorite Son after giving up a four run lead and enduring the umpire's questionable calls when we played a “road” game in the next town,

Home team bias: Sometimes, when you’re away from home, you won’t get a fair shake. You still have respect the umpire. You still have to play the game. Sometimes, you’re the home team.

Warwick Little League (Minors) Cardinals
As former St. Louis Cardinals’ third baseman and longtime KMOX radio play-by-play announcer Mike Shannon often says, “Old Abner’s done it again,” referring Abner Doubleday who is credited with creating the game of baseball.  Baseball really is a metaphor for life and the game provides ample opportunity to give young people, and old, the chance to learn those lessons. I'm glad it's something I can do and share with The Favorite Son.

Play ball.