Friday, March 27, 2009

Don't Hang Your Daughter's Softball Pants From Your Antenna!

OK, on more than one occasion I totally embarrassed my daughter. Fortunately, she’s now 25, seems to have forgiven me and lives 2000 miles away so the risk of embarrassing her further through my doltish Dad ways is negligible (unless, of course, she reads this).

Susan was about 12 and in her second year of ASA travel-team softball in Indianola, Iowa. Yep, I was a Softball “Mom” (maybe not as exotic as Sarah Palin’s “hockey Mom” but still pretty intense). I don’t even remember where the tournament was being played but it was a gorgeous Iowa early summer Saturday morning. We had to get up and leave early and I guess it was late morning (in fact I don’t remember if it was after the first game of the day or not but that’s irrelevant to this tale).

Several of the girls were in the restroom and I was waiting with a couple of their mothers for them to get back, standing near where our cars were parked. All of a sudden 2 or 3 girls materialized. One of them went up to her mother and said, “Mom, Susan’s bleeding!”

And, another of the girls piped up, exclaiming, “And you won’t believe where!” Well, we all pretty much knew what was going on. My baby girl was having her first period at the tender age of 12. Well, being the Dad I started towards the restroom area to take care of her when, fortunately, one of the Moms called to me, “don’t worry, we’ll take care of her.”

Visibly relieved, I waited by my car until one of them came up to me with her softball pants—white—now totally wet from being hand-scrubbed. “Does she have anything else to wear?” she asked.

“Let me look,” was my reply as I opened the trunk of my car—full of all sorts of odds and ends, equipment and such. I fished around in a box in the rear and to my great surprise found Susan’s white softball pants from last year. I knew they were going to be kind of small but what the heck, they were softball pants and she could wear them and keep playing.

I gave the Mom the pants and she left again to take them to Susan. Holding the wet, freshly washed pants I wondered to myself, “Now where am I going to hang these to dry them?” Looking around, I decided that I didn’t want to drape them on the fender or trunk of my dirty car. That would just get the white, wet pants dirty all over again. So, noticing that there was a bit of a breeze, I had the bright idea of hooking them over the tip of the radio antenna on my car so they could air dry. Bad idea.

A few minutes later, the Moms came back with Susan in tow, looking just a bit embarrassed (although she had absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about). Upon seeing the white pants proudly flying from my radio antenna all three of them started talking at once about what a dufus I was to hang the pants there for all to see.

“Daaaud,” came from my daughter—in a tone a voice that left no doubt as to her disapproval.

“What are you doing?” one of the mothers asked me.

“Trying to dry her pants,” was my reply.

“Well, don’t you know that’s a pretty lousy place to hang them up?” the other asked.

“Daaaud,” again from Susan, now thoroughly mortified, “Get those off there, geez!”

And I quickly rescued the pants from the clutches of the radio antenna, now thoroughly embarrassed myself. The pants ended up inside the car, in the sunniest area I could find, hoping that they would dry quickly.

But, that’s one of life’s lessons, especially when you’ve got a daughter. Especially when that daughter is your “baby”. Even though, at 12, she’s a pretty good ballplayer. She’s still a girl, a girl becoming a young woman.

And what’s that lesson?
Never. Ever. Hang your daughter’s softball pants from your radio antenna!

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