CRA Travel News – USA

By Ed Condran

Friends have always asked why I have allowed my children to be part of travel baseball and ice hockey teams. Since my sons were 6 years old, we’ve hit the road for games as close as a half-hour away and as far as tournaments that required travel to such far-flung destinations as Cooperstown, Tampa, Austin and Niagara Falls, among other fine cities.

I’ve always been a proponent of enabling my children to achieve if it’s within financial reason. My two daughters are more academic, so they’ve remained closer to home. However, my boys have always had a keen interest in sports and taken the time to practice and work out enough that they’ve been able to excel on their AAU squads.

Pals have asked what I get out of the experience. Aside from witnessing my children grow, gain confidence and learn how to be a team player, I have the opportunity to travel with them. When I explain that to other parents, they usually say that has to be the worst part. All of that time and expense on the road is viewed as a negative. There’s a method to my madness. I’m happy to pay the freight since it’s not easy otherwise having access to my teenagers. Their girlfriends, pals and video games usurp much of their time.

“Yeah, OK,” followed by a grunt is a soliloquy for Eddie. My 18-year-old son is typically quiet and close to the vest. My college-bound kid doesn’t indulge in video games, but his 15-year-old brother’s Xbox is like an extra appendage. Now that baseball, which is one of the few sports that’s socially distant, has commenced, it’s back to long weekend drives. Last weekend, my younger son Milo played in Kalispell, and his brother was only 20 minutes away in Whitefish.

We visited a picturesque part of Montana for the first time. Glacier National Park is breathtaking. The 4-hour drive was filled with topical conversation and a treasure trove of memories. It was a double dose of fun since I don’t usually have both boys in the car. It was akin to an obligatory hit TV series clips episode.

We laughed about Milo over his early years making like the late baseball icon Yogi Berra with his penchant for malapropisms. “I don’t know where it is, can you look in the glove department?”

“I don’t know what you mean. Can you be more pacific?”

The times the boys have been in the same tournaments on different teams and those rare times when they were part of the same squad have produced priceless memories.

We looked back and laughed at the time when Eddie was 9 and his team, which I coached, lacked a catcher. I told a big, burly kid to strap on the tools of ignorance.

“But I’m not a good catcher,” the child said. He was honest, but he tried catching for an inning. Pitches pinged off his chest protector. The next inning, I asked the team for a new backstop. “I can do it,” a squeaky 6-year-old voice yelped. I asked again, and the only response was from Milo, who I reluctantly let catch.

“How are you going to throw anyone out at second base?” Eddie said to his brother. “How are we going to compete?”

“That’s easy,” Milo said. “Just strike everybody out, and I don’t have to worry about throwing to second.” Eddie decided not to pitch to contact, and Milo’s strategy worked. The littlest guy on the field drove in the game-winning run with a double for a 2-1 win.

The experience must have rubbed off since Milo is primarily a catcher these days.

The kids’ favorite story was one I would rather forget. While on our way to a baseball tournament in Florida, I ignored Eddie’s pleas for a bathroom break. We were on back roads, and there was no easy place to pull off. We also were running late. When we were a half-mile from hitting a rest stop, Eddie burst. He vomited all over the car. I was covered in a vegetarian omelette, and I deserved every bit of it.

My all-timer goes back a half decade in Austin. We were staying at a friend’s house, which is a duplex. After arriving at 3 a.m., the keycode failed to work. I had visited on numerous occasions and didn’t want to wake up my friend. I walked around to a door, which led to her son’s vacant bedroom. I walked in and stepped over a bed. A cat meowed. My friend didn’t have a cat. I looked over and saw the bed was occupied. It was my pal’s other unit. If the person woke up, I would explain I’m sleeping at my friend Brenda’s unit so perhaps I wouldn’t be shot.

I stepped back over the bed and slipped out the door. Fortunately, the boys were in the car waiting. When I explained, they couldn’t stop laughing. The same for Brenda, who informed me her tenant was subletting her apartment and the occupant didn’t know her.

Our baseball summer is the first time in a few years the boys have traveled together to some of the same tournaments thanks to the Spokane Expos. It’s so cool to be on the road again.

What’s most heartening is that they’re reconnecting. When Eddie hit puberty at 15, he grew apart from his little brother, but they’re back for an entire summer before Eddie departs for college, and it seems like old times.

I’m fortunate since not only do they enjoy the same sports, my sons also have much in common in terms of humor, music and pop culture. They poke at each other, but also often finish each other’s sentences. It’s evident that they love and care for each other. It’s fascinating to me since I’m without siblings, so far. That’s an old personal joke since my parents always wanted more than one child.

Many of my friends’ kids couldn’t be more different and have a difficult time relating. A number of my old friends are estranged from their siblings. Some haven’t talked to their brothers and sisters for years, which is unimaginable to me.

I’m hoping my sons and my daughters are able to stay close over the years. Perhaps they will be tight in part due to the foundation that was laid during their early days. My boys have plenty of experiences to draw from, some great, some not so wonderful, but it’s a common denominator they can look back on and see where the bond started and how it’s been cultivated over the years.

I don’t regret a moment of all the long drives spent together. Childhood is finite, and it ends sooner than you can imagine. Eddie is about to venture off into adulthood, but I still have a few weeks left with him. Milo and I are going to make the most of it.

Article Credit To Spokesman.