Sunday, March 23, 2008

Allergies and the Non-Athlete

My 24-hour Claritin stopped working after 12 hours. My eyes are red and so itchy that I want to dig them out of my head with one of the Bean’s tiny spoons. I can’t stop sneezing. The instructions on the medicine say that I should not take another pill less than 24 hours after the last one. I’m not completely sure what will happen to me if I do. The only clue the box gives is that it “may cause drowsiness.” Since I’m completely exhausted already and I have a massive amount of work to do tomorrow (even though it’s a weekend), I’m opting not to push it.

Only recently have I been affected by allergies. I once read that every seven years, the human body completely changes. Everything from the way food tastes to the way your body reacts to the elements can become different. So my allergies are either a product of that or a by-product of breathing LA’s finest O2 for so many years.

It’s a safe bet that my allergy problem is being exacerbated by amount of time I’ve spent outside playing with the Bean. The weather has turned warm and ever since we got that extra hour of daylight, there have been more opportunities for roughhousing in the yard. Now I realize that I hardly have the right to complain about being outside so much, even if it is making me miserable. It’s March and I’m well aware that it’s still very much winter in a lot of places, as my sister will attest. (She gently reminded me that Chicago was hit with a few more inches of snow earlier this week.) But good weather is one of the reasons to live in Southern California, and we’ve been taking advantage. And in doing so, I’ve noticed that it triggers something deep inside of me that I wasn’t aware really existed. When the Bean and I are outside, we’ve started tackling, wresting and playing ball. The Bean is learning to kick and throw. You know, “guy stuff.” He gets this huge satisfied grin when he catches a football. And much to my surprise, I do too.

Me and sports have had a long and rocky relationship. I’ve always known that sports are a very important part of a boy’s life, but I just wasn’t interested in them. Not for lack of trying. I played soccer for years, but only managed to score one assist my entire time on the field. The basketball hoop that my dad installed in the driveway largely laid dormant and became rusty. Sunday nights meant football on TV and I sat there watching, secretly wishing for the game to be over so we could watch “Silver Spoons” or “MacGuyver.” My dad took me to plenty of football and hockey games, and I went because I loved spending time with him, but most of the time I had no idea what was happening on the field or ice. I probably traded away a small fortune in baseball cards for not knowing which players were valuable. Sports has always been like some great party that I’ve been invited to, but lost the directions. You hear stories about how great it was to be there, but you never get there yourself.

Sometime after I graduated from college, my dad confessed to me his disappointment that I wasn’t more of an athlete. This revelation didn’t upset me. I’ve long understood that in a few areas I’m not the son my dad wanted me to be—my childhood rejection of sports probably being the biggest example. Now that I’m all grownsed up, I actually like sports. I’m still a terrible athlete and I still don’t follow any particular sport or team, because frankly I just don’t have the time to learn all of the players and stats I would need to be fluent. But it’s easier to be sports illiterate as an adult. Adults don’t judge the way kids do.

Playing outside, I’ve noticed that a curious, almost primal, thing is happening with me and my son. He seems to like sports and I like that he likes sports. When the Bean first saw a baseball game on TV, he was mesmerized. Same thing when he watched some guys playing basketball in the park. He loves to run with a football and has learned, “1, 2, 3 hike!” Suddenly, I’m having visions of us in a few years playing catch in the backyard. I also understand my dad’s disappointment in a way that I never did before. I think I’m going to be saddened too if the Bean, like me, doesn’t want to toss a ball around. But wait…really? This coming from me? I have no right to care about this. I shouldn’t. I mean, if he doesn’t like movies…! But sports??

"Bart gets to ride up front because he's a good guy at sports." - Homer Simpson

It’s entirely possible that my son could have a profoundly different relationship with sports than I did and in doing so, he could avoid some of the bumps in the road that I hit. Or maybe his liking sports will finally be the inspiration I need to get into them also. I don’t know. The whole thing has taken me by surprise. And really the kid is only 2, so we both have plenty of time to figure it all out.

So even though Claritin has failed me, allergies aren’t going to stop me from playing outside with my son. Sports or no sports, we’ve having a blast. Whenever he asks me to play in the yard, I’ll pop a pill and be out there with my runny nose and itchy eyes. Maybe we’ll even invite Grandpa to play ball with us. I bet he’d like that.

1 comment:

Marisa said...

I'm always amazed how Mark, when watching football, constantly remarks about the action about 1 second before the commentators say the exact same thing. He just lives and breathes the stuff...doesn't even have to TRY to memorize the stats. Then I realized I do the same thing with movies and TV...with one glimpse I could tell you the year it was made, who is in it AND what else they've been in. I bet you can too! The best part of the Superbowl are the commercials and the most watched show on TV is about singing! Drama geeks are doin' it for themselves!