Local mother seeks to avoid prosecution, celebrates summer
And here it comes. In a mere three days, I will face my annual struggle, that being the dark temptation to throw tack strips down across the road as the buses lumber into town. So far, my Christian maturity and the desire to avoid prosecution have won out. But Thursday hasn’t come yet, so it’s all still up in the air.
Every summer, it’s just this way. A bit of vacation, a couple of rollovers (the kind you do in your jammies) and there we go. I’m serious. Then next thing you know, you’re back to stuffing backpacks. No wonder it feels like someone’s mashing the accelerator on the family sedan, roaring right straight into August.
It started out with a bang. There we were, night after night, cheering Team Subway from the bleachers. It was Little League, Pee Wee, with the littlest in the league, and our own Little Schrock, he was playing. Here, baseball was taught at its most elemental level. Here, there were no George Bretts (at least, not yet). Instead, we cheered for players with nicknames like Ladybug, Dynamite and Hot Dog.
At the ballpark, post-game wrap-ups didn’t focus on stats. No batting averages were shared, or raw numbers. We’d cheer the more basic achievements. Like this. “Ladybug didn’t make one mound tonight,” Coach Martin might say. And us? We’d applaud such improvement.
“And what did we do wrong?” Now it was time for instruction. “We didn’t run when we hit the ball.” That’s what Coach would say. “When we hit the ball, we run. We don’t look.”
Then, with a twinkle in his eye and the hint of a grin, he’d bring it in for a landing. “Here’s how we’ll get ready for the next game. I want you to take your naps, eat your vegetables and say your prayers.”
Standing there on a warm, summer night, I felt it—happiness sweet, and gratitude, too. For just to the side of a diamond, right behind the dugout, life elemental was being taught to the children. And my own small boy, wearing the number 3, was listening.
Some things never change. And some things shouldn’t. This includes family happenin’s that become happy traditions. It especially includes summer parties. Outdoors. With a campfire, a picnic table, lawn chairs and cousins. Where Grandma brings potato salad, Great-aunt Laura brings her green one and Aunt Katrina brings the Jell-O dish in red, white and blue. Every single summer.
Of course, there’s pop and ice cream, and you celebrate summer birthdays. With children underfoot and all three swings in motion, The Three is just a-hoppin’. Throw in sparklers, out-loud laughter and glowing bracelets after dark, and you’re almost there. Add every male up to 70, tip in lighters and those boomers, and you’ve got yourself a party. Every single year. Kaboom!
About the time we got all that trash picked up, it was time for summer camp. Off they went, Inspector Gadget and his friends. And back they came, giving us three days to collect our thoughts, pack our bags and head for the mountains. Looking at the calendar, I saw that July had come and gone. I sighed, shook my head to clear it and hit the starter on the Keurig.
To round it out, one more fellow went to summer camp. Kid Kaboom, himself an avid camper once, went, this time as a counselor. Kid Kounselor, I called him, and I laughed at the stories he told. One little camper arrived with a piece of home tucked in his suitcase, a stuffed monkey named Peanut Butter that he slept with every night. Remembering the vast Curious George collection Kid Kounselor had slept with, it made me happy. Of all the cabin leaders there, he would, I knew, understand a boy like that.
And that brings us to August. This week, the Class of 2017 will saunter through the front doors of the high school. They’ll scour the halls for their friends, talk in nervous clusters and struggle with their lockers. Just like every other class before them.
Meanwhile, the class of 2025 will mill around uncertainly, filing into a first-grade room at the elementary school. They’ll stow small, red backpacks and cowboy lunch boxes in their closets and tie their trailing laces. They’ll sharpen their pencils, open up workbooks and forget to raise their hands when they have to go potty. Just like every other class before them.
At home, the mother of Kid 2017 and Boy 2025 will swallow a lump, recalling how fast those summer days went. Knowing, too, how quickly Christmas will come, and then the end. Remembering how the days, months and years evaporated for Kids 2008 and 2012.
Picking up her coffee cup, she’ll give thanks for the time they’ve had. All day, she’ll look forward to the nighttime when everyone’s back home again, safely gathered in. Together.
Rhonda Schrock thinks that perhaps the Little Leaguers are on to something. That maybe taking naps, eating vegetables and saying one’s prayers is a pretty good way to navigate life. She thanks Coach Martin for that wisdom.