Monday, March 3, 2014

Bad Hockey Dad Rears His Ugly Head

In my Debate Dad post, I mentioned how I was once a bad hockey and basketball dad. Long story short, I couldn't keep my mouth shut, trying to coach from the stands to my older son, now 19.

My eight-year-old is playing hockey, as is his six-year-old brother.  I don't ever have to get on the younger of the two as far as effort is concerned.  He's more competitive in team contact sports.

The eight-year-old, however, needs to be reminded to put out full effort when he's in a game, even though at that age, they still aren't keeping score.  I remind him that his team still wants to do well, so they need his help, and that it's more fun playing hard because it makes better things happen for you.

He enjoys playing goalie more than other positions, and today got to play two games of it in the season-ending jamboree. Whether playing goalie or as a skater, he has a similar tendency as his older brother: he looks at me regularly throughout the game. As I told his older brother when he was playing hockey, and then basketball, I tell him to focus on the game and don't look at me.

His younger brother only occasionally looks my way, and it's typically a short "thumbs-up" or something similar, before continuing straight back to the action. Eight-year-old gets the thumbs-up quite often, too, but you can tell there is a difference in his glances my way. It's a sort of look for approval, and this is where Bad Hockey Dad comes in.

Whereas I should just always be giving him the thumbs-up when he looks my way, and save the "don't look at me so much" talk for after practice, I far-too-often use those moments as coaching moments.  I'm not yelling out like I did with my older son, but try to use hand gestures, like pointing at the puck, or cranking my arm, to get him to focus on the action and pick up the pace a bit.

Even that doesn't sound so bad, but today, with him playing goalie, I made a fool of myself by trying to show him goalie positions after one goal was scored on him.  He was struggling just a bit, and there was one series where he had the opportunity to drop on his pads and perhaps smother the puck, but he stayed on his feet and eventually the other team batted the puck in.

I often forget that he's an eight-year-old, and thus incapable of remembering every piece of advice I throw his way prior to a game or practice. While I'm not actually angry with him, when I'm trying to show him these things during play, I'm sure I come across as being upset or disappointed.

My antics today moved him to tears, even yelling audibly back to me, "Daddy, stop!" While he was yelling that in my direction, the other team scored another goal, with him looking my way instead of at the action on the ice.

I felt like I was Vic Morrow's character in The Bad News Bears.

So here I sit, contemplating how I'm going to be a better hockey dad, coach (even though I'm not one of his hockey coaches, I do coach him in baseball), role model, and just plain father. Right now, among all of the thoughts in my head at 3:48 am, I think the key is to make sure I allow sports to be fun for him, be there to play with him, and use the positive moments to coach with.

Duh, right? It's absolutely humiliating to know that it took being called out by my tearful child in the middle of a hockey rink to finally figure it out.

Monday, January 27, 2014

YMCA Distractions

When I'm working out with the free weights at the YMCA, I try to minimize the grunting by internalizing the intensity.  Most of the noise I make is from exhaling with each rep, finishing the last rep sometimes with a hint of a grunt, and sometimes accidentally setting the weight back a little loudly.

So while I'm not perfect, I think my gym etiquette is probably good enough to not lose my membership if I belonged at Planet Fitness. At the YMCA today, the fellows around me all would have had their memberships revoked.

The funny thing is, while all of them were plenty strong for the average guy, they were not the gym-rat types one might expect these noises to be coming from.

Well, maybe one of them didn't make a gym-rat-type noise: he was singing aloud to his iPod.  Badly. And like Rusty Griswold said to his parents about their rendition of "Mockingbird," I wanted to say to the guy, "That sounds made-up!"

An other guy grunted with every rep.  Dude, the tenth rep where it was life-or-death to get that bar off your chest, I can understand. But reps one through nine?  Please.

The third guy slammed the Smith Machine weights down after each set as if the last rep made his arms fall off.  There's an old adage that I subscribe to that goes like this: If you have to drop the weight, it was too heavy for you.

I would cut the guys some slack, because I certainly would not want any footage of some of my weight-room antics from my young adult years.  It was mostly walking around with imaginary lats, but other things as well that I still try to forget.

These guys, however, are much older than my 21-year-old self.  One of them, in fact, is older than my 47-year-old self.  I'll try to figure out how old the song he was singing is next time we cross, paths.

Early money has it being an '80s hair-metal song.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Winter Fun

The old saying, "Be careful what you wish for, because you might just get it," is appropriate for me this winter.  I was hoping for some early chilly temperatures so that I could get an ice rink built in my backyard.  When the right time came - a reasonably mild day followed by four days of well-below freezing temperatures - I hastily put it together.

I learned a few things, some from advice that I didn't take.  Not that I was stubborn or felt smarter than the advice-givers, but rather that I realized I needed to hurry to beat the oncoming freeze, so I took a couple shortcuts. They were:

1. I didn't affix the boards to each other.
2. I didn't lay the tarp as tight against the boards as I had hoped to, in part because of #1
3. I tried at first to use cheap tarp, and thankfully soon realized I needed something better
4. I didn't measure exactly the slope of our back yard
5. I didn't buy Rebar as my main type of support stake initially

Not too bad, as it turned out, but the errors above made the project cost a little extra and take a little extra time, but it was fun, and sometimes you just have to learn your lessons yourself.

As for being careful what I wish for, the rink has so far seen limited action, because the "early winter" has brought a lot of snowy days and too-cold-to-skate days for the little Mites in our family.  But it's been a blast so far, and a hit with others as well.

Lastly, my sons' skating and playing skills have improved dramatically.  They may last longer in the sport of hockey than I originally speculated. One thing I've read about practice time seems to be true: small areas for hockey practice are ideal for learning the game.  Our rink is 22' x 32', which is good for their ages, but will likely have to increase slightly for next year's version.

One unexpected pleasure of the rink: the homemade, hand-held Zamboni is a lot of fun to use!

Friday, November 15, 2013

One-chord Pop Songs

One of the tenets of pop songs is the repetition.  I love a good four-chord song.  Three chords and the truth works for me, too.  Even two-chord songs are OK. (Paul McCartney's Helen Wheels comes to mind, as does a song by my oldest son's band, Void in Reality, called Matchbook, coming soon to iTunes.)

I can't, however, handle one-chord songs for more than a minute.  

Tonight, as I cuddled with my eight-year-old at bedtime, The Guess Who's American Woman came on the radio.  I like the guitar riff and Burton Cummings' vocals.  For about a minute.  Maybe less.

Then it's like nails on a chalkboard. While chewing on aluminum foil.

No, it's more like your older brother holding your head under water (I presume, not having had an older brother).

It's like a claustrophobic being locked in a dark box, I would imagine, beyond a minute.

What I'm trying to say is that it is more than just a pet peeve. I get quite irritated, physically even.

Yeah, OK, technically it's not just one chord.  I believe it's actually three.  But you would never know just by listening to the music track. And maybe that's why it hurts to listen to.  The exact same riff over and over and over, even while the chords are supposedly changing.

Born in the USA is the same, but is an exception.  It's nowhere near my favorite Bruce Springsteen song, but I can handle it. Probably because the chord is played with variations throughout.

Paul McCartney's Old Siam, Sir is another.  Love it, for about a minute.  Then it starts to piss me off. It's E-minor the whole way, except for the guitar solos.

A goal of mine is to find, or write, a one-chord song that I truly enjoy. I might end up dying trying on that one.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Tooth-hurty 24/7

Last Halloween, while I took my boys out trick-or-treating, I sampled one of there Tootsie Rolls.  Or maybe it was Laffy Taffy. Whatever it was, it was one of those softer, chewy candies.  It was the last thing I expected to cause the pain I am in now.

Peanut Brittle, I'd understand.  Or a Gobstopper that I didn't have patience for.

Anyway, while I was chewing it, I felt some crunches that I knew didn't belong. They were from fragments of my lower back-left molar and its filling. Just a little less than half of both have been gone ever since.

Anything cold and/or hard has caused pain, so since then I've generally chewed with my right side.  It's odd that I learned from this that I actually prefer chewing on the left side.

Anyway, the day has come that I knew would eventually, and that is to say the pain is steady.  So it's time to go to the dentist.

I will be calling the dentist in the morning to make an appointment, and I hope that I can get in without waiting two weeks. I'd rather it not even be two more days of this, but I'm a realist.  Until I do get in, it will be popping my maximum 6 Ibuprofens  per day.

I'm ready to sheepishly admit to the dentist that I should have come in sooner. I just hope they don't tell me by doing so a year later I've caused more problems than what a simply cap, crown, or tooth pull would have fixed.

Until then, my clock has stopped at tooth-hurty.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Umpire passes away too young

I give professional umpires and other officials a hard time on my blog, but Wally Bell was a good one and a good man.  My sincere condolences to his family.

I am also moved by the fact that he died of a massive heart attack at age 48.  I'm 47 1/2, and just skipped a late-night session on my elliptical, to opt instead for watching baseball and downing two bowls of Lucky Charms.

The Dodgers-Cardinals game just ended. It's not too late to put in 15 minutes on the elliptical, so I'll go do that now.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A little Sunday BP

It was a gorgeous mid-October day in Minnesota today, so instead of watching the hapless Vikings (anyone who was "excited" about Cassell starting should, as I said even before his win against Pittsburgh, donate their brain to science), I hit softballs off a tee.

Today I did it a little differently from other days.  I typically find a field where the wind is favorable or at least neutral.  Today it was at a slight disadvantage, although it didn't blow more than 5 MPH for the most part.

Secondly, I practiced hitting the gap between left and center.  Normally, I practice pulling.  But from now on I will mostly be practicing the left-center gap.  Hit a line drive there, and it's a double.  Top it a little, and it still has a good chance of finding the hole in a five-man infield.

I got several past the 350' mark off the tee today, so that was definitely a good thing considering my choice not to pull.  Oh, and one more thing I did differently today was hit a lot more balls.  Four rounds of 30+ each.

Below is a picture of my left hand this evening, and yes I wear batting gloves. It's a good thing I don't bowl left-handed, because even though it's not my fingers that have blisters, a la The White Album, that one by the index finger might still sting even two days from today when I have league night, were I a lefty.

My wife thinks I'm crazy for taking BP off a tee when I won't be playing games again until next spring.  I doubt she thinks going to a golf dome in the winter is crazy.

I think should would agree that sitting through three hours of the Vikings is.