The Little Outfielder that Could

balls

Catch me if you can…

        The 12 year old batter stands at the batter’s box… confident, ready to swing his bat. And when he did, he hit the ball hard. The ball went high and far. By the looks of it, the ball would drop at the space right between centerfield and leftfield. The batter started to run, hoping he had hit a double at the very least.

      The small 10 year old centerfielder ran as fast as he could to get to the ball before it reaches the ground. He dove – and caught the ball. ‘OUT!’ cried the umpire.

        The parents clapped, cheered, went into a frenzy.

        Several plays later, another big boy stood at the batter’s box, swung his bat perfectly, allowing it to hit the ball and send it flying once again to the outfield.

        The same centerfielder took his time, tracked the ball like a pro, then ran to the right spot where the ball was going to fall. OUT! 3rd out! The inning ends.

        As the parents were cheering and exchanging high-fives, I took a glimpse of the boy’s father who was beaming with pride. When he saw me looking at him, he said quietly, “He remembers what you told him. He listened to you…”

About a month before that international tournament, I went to watch this team of 10 year olds play in the local setting. It was the first tournament they played in as a team. Come to think of it, it was their first time to seriously play together. At that time, the coaches were still gauging which position suits each player best. 

During one of the games, I noticed this player – their centerfielder – looking a bit lost. I think distracted is a better word. Since there was no action in the outfield at that time – meaning no ball was going to him, I could see him fidgety and his attention was wandering elsewhere. At some point he seemed to be watching the ongoing game on the other field. He looked bored out of his wits.

After the game, as the boy and his dad were saying goodbye to the team and to me, I heard the boy say to his dad, “I don’t like being an outfielder.” I saw the look of boredom on his young face. In his mind, he was probably thinking being a pitcher was way cooler. Or, catchers control the game. The action was almost always in the infield. But the outfield is far… And for the most part of the game, nothing happened in the outfield. He probably felt he barely contributed anything.

I couldn’t help myself so I went up to the boy and said, “You know, my son used to play baseball. He was also an outfielder like you. And you know what, he was one of the best – if not, the best outfielder in his age group. He was really good!” The little boy looked at me expectantly, so I continued, “You know, when you are playing against really good players… the ones who can hit hard… you know the balls that go really high and really far?well, the team needs a good outfielder for that. Someone who can catch a really high fly ball or block a line drive. And when you play in international tournaments, you will get a lot of those. You will face a lot of big batters. So your team relies on you to get that out… You’ll see.”

The boy smiled at me shyly. I added, “So don’t think your position is not important. Be the best outfielder you can be.” I ended with, ”I’ll introduce you to my son when he’s around. He can tell you stories.”

I am not a coach. Okay, I admit I sometimes get too involved in the games that I seem to coach from the bleachers. Yet that afternoon, I wasn’t talking to the boy as a pseudo-coach. I was talking to him as a parent.

Early on my husband and I have ingrained in our own son the value of hard work and diligence. We don’t expect him to be perfect, but we expect him to give his best all the time. Whether in his academics or in sports, we trained him to give his 100% because not doing so will mean shortchanging himself.

We also taught our son the value of respect. Respect for authority and respect for whatever position given him. When my son started playing baseball at age 8, for the most part of his first season, he was the “wanderer.” He was the 10th player on the field. He was placed somewhere between the centerfielder and the second baseman. We told him, “If you’re going to be a wanderer, be the best wanderer there is!” He took that to heart and true to form, he never lost focus and fielded whatever ball came his way.

When my son started training as an outfielder, his training was pretty intense. I remember the first time I watched him train this way – he was 12 years old then. My husband and another coach will take turns batting really high fly balls to the outfield. My son learned how to track the ball so he’d know where to position himself for an easy catch. Other times he would need to dive to get to the ball. I was really scared as I watched him darting left and right across the wide field.

More than being scared, I was impressed, too. It was just practice but my son showed determination and tenacity. Imagine how he performs during actual games.

To some people, his position was “just” outfielder. He was no star player. But he gave his 100% all the time. His teammates knew they can count on him when the need arises.  He will catch that fly ball. He will block that hot line drive to outfield. He will do what he is trained to do, just the way he trained for it. He will get that out.

From zero to hero…

To this day, my son faces whatever situation, game or challenge that he is up against, with the same determination, hard work and grit. Mediocrity is never an option.

In life, we don’t always readily get that “position” that we want. Most of the time, we have to work hard to achieve it. We either have to start somewhere – or we are given something different from what we aspire for.  I personally believe that you can be a star, regardless of what position you hold. What you make of yourself is more important.

What matters most is that you do what is expected of you, you give value to what you can do, and you give your best, every single time. Your time to shine is bound to come.

        After the game, centerfielder came up to me with a big smile on his face. Their team may have lost the game, but he had two winning moments. That was more than enough.

        I smiled back, letting him know that I was glad I was there to witness it, and that I couldn’t have been more proud.

beginner

Note to self! 

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photos via personal FB account and google images

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The many firsts

For the past several days, I have been busy helping my son with his College Apps (College Application) requirements. As I sort documents and fill out forms, I couldn’t help but realize that… this is really happening — my unico hijo is off to college next year! 

Where has the time gone?? 

I can still remember bringing him to Nursery school and waiting for him outside the classroom for two hours every school day, for the first two months.  I couldn’t leave because he might look for me and cry if he finds out I wasn’t there.

Well, he never looked for me — and he never cried inside the classroom. He has always liked going to school. 🙂

That was Nursery school.  Now, we are talking College. I wonder if he will let me wait for him at the campus on his first day in College…

Okay, so I am beginning to get sentimental. I guess it happens to every parent — especially mothers. We look at our children and we see them as our babies. Whether they are 7 years old or 17, they are and will always be our babies. We simply cannot let go.

Oh, we will let go, eventually. Because we have to. But then that doesn’t keep us from being as protective… and maternal.

I have talked to several mommy friends whose children are also going to college next year, and they share the same sentiments. Some are already looking for the closest place to hang out while their children are in school (yes, we are moving our coffee and brunch meet up venues near their children’s universities!). I have a friend who can’t help but bawl whenever she sees a baby picture of her kid. 

Sometimes it’s not always fun being a mom. Sometimes we just feel too much…

***

One of the perks of being a full-time, hands-on mom is that you get to witness your child’s many firsts. And if you are lucky — and prepared — you get to document them, too… Or you take pictures.  Lots and lots of them. Pictures to be shared in your blog when your child is much older (and will probably think of killing you for embarrassing him or her)

I dug up my son’s albums and got a few favorites… Photos of some of his many firsts. His firsts according to my mommy eyes.  

This is me getting sentimental… Indulge me.

First Day of School

The first one was his first day in a small school (Nursery) and the second one was his first day at a big school (Junior Prep).

First Field Trip

I remember being sick on that day. I had really bad colds and cough — but I had to accompany him. We were under the sun for the most part of the day. I felt like dying!

But seeing the excitement and big smile on my child’s face was more than enough to keep me alive — at least for the next eight hours.

Incidentally, that was also his first time to ride a big bus, so, double the excitement! 

First Trip Out of the Country

To Paris, with love… We just love Paris!

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Carpentras

This was taken before my sister’s wedding somewhere South of France.  

First Costumes

Back when he was too young to complain about wearing a bee costume. Take note, he wasn’t Winnie the Pooh… he was a cute bee. 🙂 

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But of course…

First Filipiniana Costume… Katipunero or Farmer? We were never sure which.

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Dr. Jose Rizal

In Jr Prep, he was supposed to come as our national hero, Dr. Jose Rizal. But on the day of the event, he had sore eyes… Yet that didn’t stop us from dressing up — and taking photos!  (How do you like the mustache?!)

He was supposed to be a pizza for Nutrition Month. But during the parade, they put the box with the back facing front, so he ended up looking like a pizza delivery guy.  The cutest pizza guy ever! (Mommy made that pizza costume!)

Hawaiian costume — which he also wore for his Jr Prep Recognition; Cheong sam for United Nations Day (good for sleeping, too!).

Our favorite costume, good old Capt. Hook! Won quite a number of prizes.

And yes, I had to dress up one Halloween. Capt. Hook needed an evil muse.

First Friends

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Stephanie and Emily

His first friends were two French girls. 

One taught him how to ride the bike, the other helped plan his 3rd birthday party. They all cried when the girls’ family had to move to Belgium. 😦

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The Justice League

 His posse. ‘Nuf said. 

First Sports

First time at the fairway and first golf tournament

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Baseball beginnings

First baseball game.

He didn’t have baseball uniform yet. He looked like an extra. He was the 10th player on the field. 

Best Wanderer ever. 🙂 

First Studio Pictorial

It wasn’t his photo shoot… it was mine.  But he was just too cute to say no to.

***

I still have lots of other photos. I have his firsts, seconds and thirds. But this should do for now.

Maybe the next picture should be of his first day in college… With me still lurking in the background. Totally uncool. 😉 

If only they can be young forever. *Sigh*

***

PS… Note to fellow parents:

Take photos of your kids while they are young. Take lots. Even if they whine and complain. They are only young once and they do grow up so very fast.

Capture moments. You will be thankful some day that you did. 

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photos are all mine!!

A day in the life…

 

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Selfie ready. Always

It normally takes me an hour to get ready when I have to go somewhere — be it running errands, going to school affairs, meeting friends for coffee, or simply going to the mall for some Me time.

I have an intensive beauty regimen. If I don’t get to put on moisturizer and lotion, apply make up (i.e, eyeliner, lipstick, concealer), powder my nose, and spray on perfume, I would feel totally incomplete.  I go through that every single day… even when I have to stay home. 

It takes me an hour or so to finish in front of the mirror. I always make sure I put my best face forward.

Yesterday was an exception, though… It was one of those off days.

I was supposed to accompany my dad to his doctor’s appointment. I also had to get some documents needed for my son’s college applications from several banks. I had quite a lot of things on my mind and was quite distracted. 

Not knowing what time exactly my dad needed me, I decided to do my bank transactions first, hoping that it wouldn’t take forever for me to finish. I was in such a hurry that I was only able to take a quick peek at the mirror, put eyeliner, reapply lipstick and dab a bit of powder on my face. I rode the car with disheveled hair and all. I prayed nobody I knew would see me. 

***

As expected, it took me a while to finish my transaction at the first bank that I went to. By that time, my dad has already texted three times — to ask where I was, to tell me the schedule and to ask again where I was. I was starting to feel stressed, I felt my straight hair starting to curl.

I told myself it shouldn’t be as bad in the second bank since I was simply going to pick up some documents.

The bank officer in the second bank was very accommodating. He looked for and handed me right away the documents I needed. Just as I was about to leave, though, he asked for an ID that they can photocopy and attach to the transmittal memo that went with the documents. I obliged.

As he was returning the ID, he read my birth year aloud. “19–.” He looked at me, then he looked at the ID  again and muttered, “You don’t look your age.

I smiled shyly and muttered, “I look older?” He replied, “Younger. Definitely younger. Wow.” 

I got my ID back, smiled a big smile, said thank you, and walked away. Felt like a Supermodel walking out of the bank.

The compliment made my afternoon… or at least a portion of it.

Yes, I’m shallow like that. 🙂

***

Going on a trip to my dad’s doctors is not something that I look forward to.  

In the last five years, my dad has had two surgeries, colon and then lung lobectomy, a series of chemotherapy sessions, and a knee fracture caused by an accident.  It was not an easy journey. Not for him and not for the family.  We have spent days going back and forth to the hospital. He has had a battery of tests.

But he is a fighter. He looked cancer in the eye and pretty much told the disease to take a hike. He has been cleared for almost three years now, though we still make regular visits to his doctors (all 5 or so of them) for monitoring.

He recently had his scheduled physical check up — CT scan, ultrasound, cardio test, and the works.  All tests he passed with flying colors.  I even kidded him the other day about his blood test results being more normal than mine.  

He is by all indication healthy and his vitals normal.

And then he started complaining about pain in the lower abs that radiates to the hips up to his back after sitting for a long time. No real reason for worry, we say. I keep telling him it’s just muscle pains and maybe nerves… maybe even rheumatism. 

As expected, his doctor said the same thing about his pain in the lower abs — it’s just muscle pains. But to address the back pains, the doctor ordered an MRI of the lumbar area. The pain, he said, can also be just muscle pains, or it could be a form of osteoporosis. Though because of my dad’s cancer history, they had to do an MRI. My mom and I exchanged looks. Here we go again…

From the moment we went out of the doctor’s clinic and all throughout the ride home, I have been praying silently that everything’s just muscle pains. 

When I don’t know the answer to my questions… When fear is beginning to creep in and I am starting to feel the anxiety building up… When I know that I cannot show how scared I am because I have to be strong for other people… Truly, prayer is my only refuge. 

***

After the doctor’s consult, we decided to go to a cafe and have snacks. We asked my sister to join so we can fill her in. 

So over three kinds of pasta (hospital news made us hungry), we talked about what lies ahead. It was just the four of us — My dad, mom, my sister and I. The original bunch. We provide each other with strength.

We assured each other that there’s nothing to worry about. That the pain may be just because of the usual wear and tear of the body. My sister even suggested that my dad does yoga. I told him to go to an orthopedic doctor and ask for therapy.

And so we wait for Monday’s MRI session and Thursday’s doctor’s verdict. As we wait, we pray. We pray for courage and strength. We pray for inner peace.

Funny how earlier in the day my main concern was just about looking good. Yes, I can be shallow like that 🙂 

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Photos are mine. Hover over the photos to see the caption. ❤

 

Highlight of my day

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This guy! ❤ 

When my son was younger and just started going to elementary school, we made it a point that he shares with us his daily experiences in school.  Over dinner, we would ask him what he did, what his teachers taught him, lessons he learned, new friends he met… We made him share with us the highlight of his day.

It was a good practice. There was always a lot of stories to tell. At times we have really long dinners because of stories shared and discussed. Some nights we focus on just the highlights. He talked, we listened.

And as he talked, we got to know him more. We got to know the person that he was becoming. As we gave him our own thoughts and ideas, hopefully, we also helped shape and mold him into being the best person he can be. 

Young children tend to talk more. They can talk non-stop. Everything’s a highlight because every school activity seems to be interesting and exciting. As they get older, though, they begin to choose the things they want to share. 

My son is now a senior in high school. On most nights I feel he would rather have dinner with his laptop than with me.  When asked about the highlight of his day, sometimes I would get a grunt or rolling eyeballs.

But still there are nights when I get the full update — complete with videos and music from the laptop. 

***

I have been a full time, hands on mom from Day 1.

When my son was much, much younger, my days were filled with his activities. I bring him to school each morning and pick him up in the afternoon.  After class hours we go to his scheduled extra curricular activities. We had Kumon, piano lessons, art lessons, baseball training, etc. While he’s in school or doing after school activities, I make school reviewers for him to answer when he gets home.

Yes, I was that kind of mom. I was always there. I pushed. I hovered. My schedule pretty much revolved around his. If you asked me then what the highlight of my day was, most likely I’d say baseball training or game. Yeah, that and making gazillion reviewers.

I was busy. I was mother, teacher, tutor, personal assistant, nurse, cook, magician, and atm machine when needed.

To him I was mom. In my mind, I was Superwoman, out to save the day… everyday.

As he got older, of course he became more independent. That also meant he had less need of me. I can bring him to ball games and trainings, but I won’t even attempt to teach him higher maths. 

But because of the good study habits instilled in him when he was younger, coupled with his genuine interest to learn something new and his drive to give his best no matter what, I am now confident that I can already loosen the rein and I know that he can do things on his own. And he has proven time and again that he is a responsible guy.

All of a sudden, I was left with time in my hands. 

***

When my son entered high school and started needing me less, I was left with the question — Now, what do I do next?  

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Can’t miss school activities, can we? 

I can’t be the uncool mom who hovers. I knew I had to find something different to do.  I had to have my own schedule, my own personal activities. 

And so I started writing again. I started writing regularly. I blogged. I even wrote a book.

I also became more involved in our baseball camp operations. I helped plan tournaments and games. I took care of the Camp’s finances and other administrative functions. 

I had more time to have lunches and coffee meet ups with friends, too. And on really lazy days, I just lounge on the sofa in front of the tv and maybe watch the Kardashians (’til I feel my brain cells dying one by one).

My days became more about me — or the baseball camp, for that matter.

And yet I also know that at any point during the day, should my son holler “Mom!” for whatever reason, I know I will drop everything and come running. 

***

Next year my son will be going off to college. Another season in our lives about to unfold. I am excited for him… I am also melancholic. 

Since the plan is for him to study abroad, that would mean leaving the family home. That would also mean less dinners together. Can’t help but feel a tug in my heart. 

But then I also know that for our children to really learn and grow, we have to let them go and allow them to experience life on their own. We can only pray that we have taught and equipped them enough so they can face the real world with courage and wisdom.

And we never stop being a parent whether our children are with us or faraway. I know for a fact that regardless of whatever hat I wear, or whatever title I may hold, I will always, always choose to be a mother first.

Believe it or not, whether he’s 8 or 18, listening to my son talk about the highlight of his day will always be the highlight of MY day. 

 

***

photos are ALL mine!!

The Saturday that was

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Fantasy.

Saturday afternoon

So here I am, at 2:00 in the afternoon, standing in the middle of a field, basking under the summer sun… watching a baseball game.

It was a hot day. Scorching hot.  The ground was dry. So very dry. Whenever the wind blows, dust was sure to go with it.

I could feel the dust on my face, covering the layers of sunblock that I put several hours before.

I looked at my feet.  My black sandals have already turned brown.  I could feel my feet burning. Why-oh-why didn’t I wear rubber shoes instead??

“Why am I  here??”  I asked myself for the umpteenth time. 

I have been on the field since 8 o’clock this morning. This is already the fourth baseball game that I have watched and cheered for today.

The team is losing.  It’s losing pretty badly.

Three teams. Four games.  Three losses so far.  It has been a tough, not to mention, extremely hot day.  And my teams are losing.

My son isn’t even playing with any of the teams.  So, why am I even here???

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Reality.

***

Truth be told, I miss watching my son play baseball.  

Baseball has been his sport since he was 8 years old. He used to play golf before that, but the moment my husband introduced him to the sport of baseball — the moment he realized that he would gain more friends there, he kissed his (expensive) golf clubs, as well as his Jungolf championship dreams, goodbye.  There was no turning back.

And so for about 7 years, our weekends were filled with baseball games.  He has joined local tournaments, he has played in Asia Pacific Championships here and abroad, he has played with and against some of the very best youth baseball players from all over the region.

I have watched and cheered under the scorching heat, as well as in the pouring rain. I have experienced with him and his teammates the joys of victory, as well as the pain and disappointment that come with losing. I have gained new friends… I have made a number of enemies, too.   

Baseball is filled with moments, both good and bad. 

When my son decided to “semi-retire” from the sport… When he decided to pursue other interests (like singing, performing and yes, studying some more)… well, baseball pretty much took a back seat. 

I was in a way thankful that he decided to pursue other things. I mean, I do loathe staying under the sun for a long time.  And waking up at such ungodly hours to watch early morning games can sometimes drive one nuts — especially on a Sunday when you’d rather sleep in until noon. 

But honestly, I do miss watching him play.  I miss the thrill. I miss the excitement. Though some games can be very stressful, well, I sometimes miss the stress, too! (Sometimes I cheer like a maniac that my husband gives me dagger looks.)

Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine myself being so involved in a sport. For some reason, baseball got to me. 

The universe has a sense of humor.

***

Last Saturday, three teams from our baseball club competed in a tournament. Three sets of players from three different divisions. The boys whom I watched training all summer long were given the chance to play against other teams.

Nope, they didn’t win all the games. In fact, they lost quite a number of times. Not one of the three teams brought home a medal nor a trophy.  The old me would have been disheartened and heartbroken.  No one likes losing.  

But after being a witness to all those games that my son has played… I have come to realize and accept that the players learn from both winning and losing.  

Losing isn’t always bad. Sometimes you have to lose so you’ll know what needs to be worked on. Sometimes you lose not because you are not good, but maybe because the other team prepared as hard as you did — or even harder.

But when you lose, lose with grace. Unfortunately, this is something that a lot of people, especially the adults, forget. 

Besides, baseball is a game of moments.  Each player somewhere, somehow gets to experience a moment… a moment that is his to learn from, his to remember and to savor. His moment on the field.

A winning catch. A double play. A home run. A successful slide. An almost impossible tag. One defining moment.  

These moments make the long hours under the sun worthwhile.

I was but a mere spectator that Saturday, yet I am glad I stayed and watched. Dust powdered face and all. 🙂

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Pitcher-Catcher moment

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photo credits: summer heat photos via google images ; Pitcher-Catcher moment photo from my ever reliable SLR (Taken in 2014 at the PONY Asia Pacific Tournament, Pony Division)