Thursday, August 1, 2013

Put me in coach, I'm ready to parent; Part II

Football training camps began recently, the baseball All-Star game came and went and the second “half” of that season got underway.  It all led to a post last week about how parenting triplets is a lot like being a pitcher or hitter.  You are constantly using an informed guess to figure out to avoid that walk-off homerun.  Keep them off balance and you can succeed.  Go to far afield from a strength however, and you can quickly walk the bases full on four bad pitches.

That was the first 18 months or so.  Those are your playing days.  The game and the day is yours.  Once a minor leaguer, you bask in the glow of the major league role of Daddy.  You’ve been called up to the big game.  This is what you’ve waited and prayed and practiced for; especially when you’ve waited three years, like we did.

It all goes by so fast.  One day you are hitting simple bottle requests out of the park, and the next thing you know you are swinging at air trying to figure out what is going on. The game suddenly overwhelms you; the easy picking bottle moments are gone.  There are more pitches coming at you now, and faster.  That game passed you by.

So you take the next logical step: Manager.

For players, it’s a good gig.  Baseball managers sit in shade 162 games a year, trotting out only to replace pitchers or argue a call.  And since the calls are never, and I mean never, reversed, even that isn’t strictly necessary.  They really have nothing to do, so they affect the outcome of probably 5 games per year. 

Lasting Milledge once wore pink cleats, IIRC.
Sadly, the one-time Mets and Nationals
prospect's career never materialized enough
for him to have to carry a cash register.
Most of the debate over a coach goes something like this: is he a hardnosed, “whip them into shape” type manager who won’t let players listen to music during losing streaks; or is he a “player’s coach” who makes the guys feel comfortable.  Being a baseball manager is all about how you deal with the personalities, you see.

And that makes me the Charlie Manuel of triplets.

Because somewhere along the way in developing this roster I ended up with the 2009 Washington Nationals’ outfield of Lastings Milledge, Elijah Dukes, and Nyjer Morgan.  That is to say that they have, um, personality.

Suddenly it isn’t about changing activities every 30 seconds or guessing what to do with them next.  Once kids become sufficiently mobile they pretty much do what they want next.  My only job as manager: schedule their day and make sure they don’t hurt themselves.  Oh, and resolve disputes among the personalities.

Like coddled ballplayers, two-year-old triplets often have “me” expectations; and little regard for the desires of others.

When our three were little tracking their food intake ranked high on the importance scale.  This seemingly easy task was of course complicated by the fact that there were three, and we had no sleep.  Like any good team, we quickly labeled our kids with names and numbers and assigned the team a color.  Liam ate from the green plate and sippy, Rand ate from the blue ones and Sadie got either purple or pink, whichever color they sold for "girls." Because, you know, girls.

Then, out of nowhere, Liam rejected green; all he wanted blue.  Like a certain Phillies short stop making $30 million a year to play a game to entertain us for a living not wanting to hit second in a lineup, Liam simply couldn’t stand the idea of eating off a green plate.  You know, because the green plate infused the food with the taste of green.  Offered a perfectly reasonable dinner on a green plate, he simply pushed it aside and put his head down on his tray like a sulking MLBer.

Yep, the plate was green.
When told the plate would be green again the following day, he threw his helmet across the room, broke a bat on his seat and trashed the locker room. Honestly. At least on that last part.  Liam is prone to dumping a box full of pretty much anything onto the floor in anger.

And while managing triplets isn’t like managing 20-year-old infants competing for a limited slot on a MLB roster with limited amounts of $30 million contracts, they are in fact toddlers competing for my attention.  That’s the same, right?  If you have children I think we can agree its similar.

Most MLB teams outside the Red Sox and Yankees only have so much money available for contracts.  I only have so much time available for contact.  Just like the Phils couldn’t pony up $13M/year for Shane Victorino while also paying Ryan Howard and that pitching staff; I can’t watch Liam climb and slide while Sadie swings and Rand jumps on a trampoline. So I’m not only managing personalities, I’m managing a payroll, as well.

Hopefully none of my team will leave by way of free agency any time soon.

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