Baseball and Parenting

Cristian not quite grasping the concept of running the bases.

I’m a simple man with simple tastes.  Those who know me will say I love photography, running, a good cup of coffee, Esther, Cristian, and typewriters.  You can add a sense of humor that’s either funny or annoying, depending on who you’re taking to.  If they really know me well, they will also say, warm beer, the Hallmark Channel, college basketball, and winter are not my thing.

The three months between Super Bowl Sunday and the new baseball season are a sad time.  The excitement of March Madness and filling out brackets is lost on me.  After a cold winter one phrase gives me hope, pitchers and catchers report on February 14th.  Some have Punxsutawney Phil, but for me the start of Spring Training lets me know warm weather is coming soon.

Cristian and I at a Father’s Day game

I approach the beginning of a new baseball season with the same excitement of a young child waiting for Santa  Claus on Christmas morning.  Then again the 2019 season starts on March 28th, that’s like putting up Christmas displays on Labor Day Weekend.   My better half and I have taken Cristian to several games since he was a baby, and already have tickets to our first game this season.  I look forward to sharing my love of baseball with him as he gets older.

There are some who feel taking a four-year old to a New York Mets game is cruel and inhumane punishment.  I disagree.  As a Mets fan, he’s learning loyalty and you don’t always get everything you want in life at a young age.  If I wanted Cristian growing up with an overdeveloped sense of self entitlement—I’d take him to Yankee games.

I love baseball and since becoming a father, I noticed the similarities between baseball and parenting.  Teamwork and coaching are important components in both.

Baseball players spend the winter working with personal trainers before arriving at Spring Training complexes in Arizona and Florida.  Countless hours are spent on back diamonds learning new skills and refining existing ones.  Time spent fielding grounders, working on a new pitch, or learning a new position could make a difference when it comes to landing the last spot on a 25-man roster.

It’s the same with parenting.  The past few winters, Esther and I spent countless hours keeping Cristian engaged.  We enrolled him in My Gym classes, after school programs, and taking him to several children’s museums.

Last winter we invested in a Leap Frog DVD 3-pack, that paid dividends.  We spent hours watching the adventures of Tad, Leap, and Lilly, again and again and again.  The result, Cristian knows the alphabet backward and forward and he can read.  That’s not to say there weren’t a few dicey moments along the way.

One evening he proudly shared the newest word he learned with me.  It had four letters, started with F and ended in a consonant.  Worried that he may have learned this new word from Daddy, I asked him to repeat it.  Imagine my relief when he repeated it, adding ribbit ribbit.

I always found baseball to be a metaphor for life.  There is a chance for glory and individual accomplishment but you must never lose sight of the fact that you are part of something bigger than yourself.  My playing days are over, but if I raise a child who grows up to be a quality person, I did my job well.

My reaction when I realized the word was frog.
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It’s A Christmas Miracle!

Christmas 2014, after pulling Santa’s finger.

It’s Christmastime once again, my better half’s favorite time of year. She enjoys spreading Christmas cheer to everyone around her whether they are feeling it or not. In that festive spirit, it’s time for the Priegue family’s annual exercise in futility — producing our annual Christmas card.

I’ve written about our annual family tradition and considering our history, set the bar low this year.  Although Cristian has been gotten into the Christmas spirit, telling us what he wanted from Santa weeks ago, and practicing the puppy dog look to get an extra gift or two from Santa, I’ve been here before. My goal was to get through this Christmas season without drinking too much bourbon. Considering how the last few years reminded me of Lucy holding a football for Charlie Brown, in the Peanuts comic strip, I’m glad I bought the big bottle.

We were working without a net this year. Last year, when we used a picture taken from Cristian’s birthday photo shoot for our card. We didn’t have that luxury this year. I made some beautiful images of our son over the past year, but none screamed Christmas. Drawing on our experience as project managers, Esther and I planned this year’s picture with care.

Success after four years and six boilermakers, we acheived our goal.

Esther chose the location and picked the wardrobe.  She found a small mall near home called Atlas Park and picked the slowest time of the day.  We all wore red tops, in case history repeated itself and we had to jump into the picture with Cristian.

I scouted the route from the parking garage to Santa’s workshop with the same attention to detail the Secret Service uses for the presidential motorcade. Planning for all contingencies, we detoured around toy stores, kiddie rides, or anything guaranteed to bring on a tantrum when we walked past it. I also brought a camera and threw a Festivus pole in the car in case were forced to improvise if the Santa picture didn’t go as planned.

Our fifth time was the charm.  Cristian didn’t have his usual deer in the headlights.  I guess seeing countless inflatable Santa throughout our neighborhood prepared him for the real thing.  Crouching down and making silly faces gave us the patented 1000 watt smile we wanted.

Riding a winning streak, we went for the daily double. After leaving Santa’s workshop we headed to Home Depot to pick out our Christmas tree.  And the tradition continues…

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The Quest For The Perfect Christmas Card

The 2017 Priegue Family Christmas Card – English Version.

It’s almost Christmas making it a perfect time to talk about holiday traditions.  A new one for us is family Christmas cards.  Back when I was single and happy, they were easy—I rarely sent out any.  After getting married, my wife sent out cards for both of us.  My contributions were limited to printing mailing labels and dropping the cards in the mailbox.

Our 2010 Christmas Card.

Becoming proud parents meant sending out family cards.  We weren’t going for the preppy central casting version of the family posed in front of a fireplace wearing matching Christmas sweaters with a golden retriever in the foreground.  We don’t have a fireplace, matching Christmas sweaters, or a dog.

I spent countless holiday seasons goofing on friends sending pictures of their kids that doubled as Christmas cards.  The cards either said “we successfully reproduced” or “here’s a picture of our precious child sitting on a creepy old man’s lap, what were we thinking.”

It’s amazing how becoming parents changes one’s perspective.

Before Cristian was born we sent out cards bearing the image of our practice child—Chico.  We even took him to the mall one year getting a picture of him sitting on Santa’s lap.  Looking back, Christmas came early for Chico that year as he humped Santa’s leg for a good ten minutes.  That was the card we should have sent out.

A few years later it was Cristian’s turn as we took our infant child to the mall to meet Santa.  It should have been a no-brainer.  Cristian was all smiles that day, Esther picked the perfect outfit and we timed his nap perfectly.  What could go wrong?

It started after leaving him in the hands of an old man smelling of Ben Gay and malt liquor then backing away.  He didn’t cry because mommy and daddy were nearby making silly faces, but the deer in the headlights look was not what we were going for.

Who is this creepy old man you’re leaving me with?

The following year Esther’s sister and son Justin met us at the mall.  They boys had a great time playing as the line slowly moved forward.  We hoped Justin flashing Santa a smile as he tried convincing Santa to leave an extra toy of two under the tree would motivate Cristian—it didn’t.  He threw a tantrum Mariah Carey would have been proud of.

Last year we skipped the mall and headed to Hicks, a garden center on Long Island.  Sure fertilizer, snow shovels and Santa Claus just screams Christmas, but our annual holiday tradition was like Wile E. Coyote unpacking the latest Acme product and chasing after the Road Runner, so what the hell.

Hicks was a pleasant surprise, it didn’t have the Home Depot feel I pictured.  Cristian entertained himself running between poinsettias, colorful displays, and a Christmas Village as Esther waited in line.  However, new year, new location, same result.  Cristian started wailing as soon as we put him on Santa’s lap, as if he told the baby he was getting coal in his stocking.  He ignored me when I tried soothing him by mentioning coal mining was a dying industry.

I still think this would have made a great Christmas card.

Although preschool taught Cristian about Santa and he now points him out whenever he sees him images of him, we set the bar low this year.  Once again, we dressed him up and headed to the mall but he wasn’t feeling it.  Esther and I decided to go with Plan B when he froze at the front of the line.

We spent the past year collecting a library of cute images of Cristian.  While it doesn’t exactly scream Christmas it did keep daddy from cracking open a tequila bottle when we got home from the mall.  I dropped the cards in the mail this morning.  Merry Christmas!

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