"The more I become like my parents, the better I like myself."
I like simple things now. A fire outside on the patio. Cooking out. Having a beer with friends. A memory long forgotten, brought back by a song on the radio. Here's one that I never really considered until the recent bout of warm weather...
It's so simple. And I don't mean to get all "Field of Dreams" on everybody, but bear with me. (That was a beautiful thing, though, at the end. Makes me cry every time.)
When he's in the mood, Tristan will join Aidan and me outside to play. He's more difficult to play catch with, for a few different reasons, most of which stem from his autism. He has a VERY short attention span. Shiny things and squirrels and cars and the dog and sticks and grass and rocks and dirt and other things all tax his concentration. He likes to play, but it seems like he always wonders about doing something else.
He gets frustrated when he doesn't do something well. He doesn't get very far away because he wants to catch and throw every ball just right. When he misses, or more accurately, when I fail to make it land squarely in his glove, he lets out a little scream while he's chasing after it. But when he catches the ball, he has an absolutely priceless look on his face. He gets a little too close to throw the ball back, and I've taken a few unfortunate hits, but he's fun to watch.
Aidan, however, is my catch-playing partner. We've been playing every day since it got warm. We even play in the morning while we're waiting for the bus. I can't help but think about Ralphie's kid brother in "A Christmas Story" who can't move his arms while I'm watching Aidan try to throw while wearing a winter coat. But he's so eager to play catch whenever we can, even in the cold.
He's hard to teach because he's left-handed, but like everything else, he's good at it. He can really throw pretty hard. He doesn't catch particularly well yet, because he's just a little bit afraid of the ball. I think he's got "pitcher" written all over him.
Most of the time, we don't talk, and there's a rhythm that we get into, and it's just nice to watch him. He uncorks a wild one every now and then and we have to crawl into the bushes to get it. Or he'll miss one and has to chase it into the street.
Occasionally, he asks questions and a few days ago, he came up with one that is really the point of this whole story. "Did you play catch with your Dad, Daddy?"
His question made me stop what I was doing for a moment. I hold my Dad in high regard, and I learned a lot from him, but my Dad was a long-haul trucker when I was a kid.
I held the ball when I answered his question so Aidan would fully understand. "We played catch sometimes, but Grandma Shirley was who really taught me to play catch."
"Gramma Shirley played catch?" he said, his voice getting really high on the end, as it is prone to do when he's surprised by something.
"You bet. She was really good. And she was a good teacher," I said.
"Do you think Gramma Shirley will play catch with me next time we're in Wichita?"
The thought of that made me laugh. "Suuuure, buddy. Grandma Shirley would LOVE play catch with you."
Oh. And thanks.