Jeff Astrof has 100 days off. See how he spends them.

Day 22

with 6 comments

First of all, I am still concerned that I have a hernia since I have a nagging pain in where I imagine my lower abdominal muscles must be hiding.  I tried self-diagnosis on the internet, but that led me to a website for transvaginal mesh so I gave up… on a lot of things.  If it hasn’t cured itself by tomorrow I may have to seek a healthcare professional, or a brave friend with warm hands.

In any case, ah, Sunday.  Sundays around here are usually chaotic.  Since we take Saturdays off, every birthday party, playdate, or other kid activity is crammed into Sunday.  Sunday is also the day I traditionally do my yoga practice (you can read about why I hate yoga in an earlier post), but today there was no time for me.  It’s weird that I resent not having any “me” time on Sunday since the rest of the week is entirely free for me.   In any event, today’s kid responsibilities were pretty much arranged according to gender lines: my wife would take my daughter to and from various birthday parties and her play rehearsal (she plays off-screen Rapunzel in the Youth Academy of Dramatic Arts production of “Into the Woods.  Don’t get me started.), while I would spend my day bonding with my son with a jam-packed day of guy-oriented activities, namely: a concert of a boys a cappella group from 10:30-11:30, Little League from 1:30-3:00 and Cub Scouts from 3:30-4:30.  Last night, I psyched my son up by telling him about the fantastic day we had planned and that he better get lots of sleep because it was going to be FUN!

Saturday night, 7:45 p.m.: Caleb Astrof is PSYCHED for his day with his daddy!  Daddy, while a little bummed that he will miss yoga even though he hates it and may have either a hernia or a transvaginal tear, is PSYCHED for a day of male bonding with his son.


Sunday morning, 10:00 AM– Caleb is on his floor crying, on the phone with his mommy telling her that daddy called him a crying baby because he didn’t want to go to baseball.  I (daddy) yell in the background, “I did not!!”  (I actually muttered something much worse under my breath which I felt horrible about and glad his little brain either didn’t process it or changed it to something more benign).  So, how did we get from both of us being psyched to a screaming, crying fit less than 12 hours later?

We have to go back 35 years.  That was when I wanted to join Little League but dropped out after I couldn’t sell enough raffle tickets to qualify me to be in the Nassau County Little League Farm system.  I never joined little league, never got good at baseball and was subsequently tortured by the Varsity baseball team that wound up wearing “Students for Hitler” buttons until in a life-changing moment I challenged the captain of the baseball team, Craig Ackerman to a fight in front of the entire baseball team and my father.  Anyway, I didn’t want that for my son, so I pushed him into playing Little League.  Last year, which was t-ball, was going fine until he discovered there were gophers in the outfield and then I lost him for the rest of the season (a butterfly migration ended our soccer experiment two years earlier).  I had abandoned the notion of him playing baseball ever again until this summer when he went to sports camp.  In a random moment when his very athletic cousin from Oregon (my wife’s side of the family in case anyone’s wondering) was over and my son took out a baseball bat and began hitting the ball… HARD.  He was actually good at baseball!

Armed with this new knowledge, I took him for tryouts this year and he cried that he didn’t want to do it.  “But you’re good at it!” “I don’t care, I hate it!”  “No you don’t!”  “Yes I do!”  It is a classic dilemma for a parent– at least this one– to know when to push your kid into doing something and when to let them quit.  If I had stayed at all the things I ever tried I would be a French speaking, 7th degree black belt who could play classical guitar.  Instead, I’m writing a blog about being unemployed.  Anyway, I finally convinced Caleb that he should try out… all his friends were doing it and it would give him a chance to get exercise and learn teamwork and he’s good at it.  “I don’t care!”  “I’ll buy you ice cream.”  “Okay, I’ll do it.”

So, that was our deal.  For a family with a history of eating disorders, bribery with ice cream was not the most obvious choice, but what the hell, it worked.  He got put on a team with all his friends and I immediately felt sick.  Seeing him out there– one of the littlest ones– with very little training and a bat that was too big and cleats that hurt his wide little feet (like his daddy’s), I felt like the worst parent in the world.  I was so stressed for him.  Every strike, every missed ball, every throw into the dirt would be a black mark on my heart.  And then, something miraculous happened– he was good!!!  It turns out, he has a natural swing and good hand-eye coordination– I know, get the paternity test, but who cares: my son was the only kid to get a hit in his first three at-bats.  We lost our first three games but I taught him the valuable lesson that as long as he got a hit, it didn’t matter if we won or lost.

So, knowing that he was actually good and seeing his little smile as his friends high-fived him in the dugout after getting the first hit and scoring the first run of the season (yes, we are in a league where the opposing team was chanting, “Let’s go Yossie clap clap clap clap… clap” but still, it’s a machine pitching and he still has to run around the bases), I knew I had done the right thing by forcing him– er, bribing him to play.  So then what went wrong today when he said he didn’t want to play?  After crying and yelling and screaming (he did those things, too), it turns out that his coach was mean to him when I wasn’t there.  I told him that I would be there and I guaranteed that as long as daddy was around, his coach wouldn’t be mean.  He said no.  I promised him ice cream for dinner.


Sunday, 11:00 PM– As I write my journal, I am pleased to report that Caleb went 2 for 3 today, hit a line drive and fielded a ground ball and got someone out!  (his team lost 12-5 but who cares?!)  I’m hoping that his big day on the field, and getting to have a large scoop of mint chocolate chip ice cream with a side of cookie dough with his dad will be the good memory that someday gets him to force his son to play little league.

Sure my dad was a jerk, but I went 2 for 3 and got ice cream


Written by 100daysoff

March 7, 2011 at 7:09 am

Posted in Uncategorized

6 Responses

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  1. This is my favorite post yet Jeff! Go Caleb and good job Dad!

    Pam Hurley

    March 7, 2011 at 3:09 pm

  2. Oh goodie. I feel validated for forcing my son to try out, play, and practice against his will. I guess we’re all reading the same parenting books. Yippee.


    March 7, 2011 at 6:16 pm

  3. This is my favorite one so far as well. But did you really challenge Craig to a fight? Feels like an episode of “Glee.” What was the outcome? If it’s any consolation that last time I saw him (probably five years ago) he weighed about 300 pounds and his BMOC glow had dimmed considerably.

    Eric Cohen

    March 7, 2011 at 9:04 pm

  4. If it’s any consolation your tennis (2d only to Gary Siegel)and acting/singing/comedic skills were the envy of camp.


    March 7, 2011 at 8:01 pm

  5. Great story!! I went through that with my son and tackle football in second grade. He wanted to play so bad, but didn’t want to hurt anyone. I did make him finish the season.

    Steve Schultz

    March 7, 2011 at 9:24 pm

  6. Two for three? Why, with those kind of numbers the Mets should offer him an incredibly lucrative contract. Oh wait, they only do that for people who have crippling injuries that have been underreported. Anyway, GO CALEB!


    March 8, 2011 at 2:55 pm

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