Of Birdies and Batman

One of the biggest perks of being a teacher is to spend summers with your family.  Name me another job that gets a couple months off when you still get a paycheck for doing nothing but what you please.  Oh sure, some teachers have second jobs, but me?  I am blessed to have the job of parenting my two toddler boys, 3 1/2 and 2 1/2 respectively.  My decisions throughout the day are no longer how to better teach analogies or what to do with the kid in 6th hour that just won’t keep her mouth shut; instead my worries–if you want to call them worries–reside in which park to go to and how to best diffuse a temper tantrum over not being able to wear a Batman cape to church. 

Well, yesterday was a true blessing.  Not only was the weather something out of a heavenly dream (85 degrees, sun bathing us in all its beauty, light breeze), but as my wife took my two little ones to a play date at the park, I hooked up with two of my buddies from church for a round of nine holes … for free!  That’s right.  I have to give a shout out to the genius at Sycamore Ridge Golf Course who had the idea that golfers who signed up for e-mail deals automatically get a free round of golf in the month of their birthday.  Happy 38th birthday, baby!  Woo hoo!  I digress …

So after taking some Advil to nurse a sore shoulder and a nasty Wii injury I suffered the evening before (you know you’re officially old when you can honestly say you suffered a Wii injury from playing it for a half hour), I was good to go.  I hadn’t even picked up the sticks yet for an official round, so I wasn’t expecting anything great.  What ensued was a round of golf that I likened directly to parenting my kids.  How’s this for an analogy: Playing a round of golf is like raising two boys.  You never know what is going to happen next.  Are you curious what happened during that magical round?  Any takers? 

Sure, my golf fans, whomever you are out there, probably would like to hear a tale or two from the links, but I am guessing some of my readers could care less about golf and would rather hear stories about raising toddlers.  What I came up with this morning was a best of both worlds idea.  To polish this analogy completely, I will compare the highs and lows of my golf round to raising my two beautiful boys.  To keep them anonymous, I’ll call them Batman (my three-year-old) and Spiderman (my two-year-old).  The following events from the golf course are completely true.  The analogies from parenting?  Well, let’s call those events realistic fiction.  (Can you tell I teach Language Arts?)  Let’s get going here …

Hole 1: I crush my drive down the throat of the fairway, land a beautiful 6-iron on the green, and completely blow my chances at par by three-jacking from 15-feet out. 

This would be like Batman and Spiderman waking up, laughing with me, snuggling me a bit in bed, then fighting over who gets to wear the Lightning McQueen underwear that has already been worn the previous day and is still lying on the floor.  Note to self: always throw away dirty underwear.

Hole 2: I crush my drive again, lay up a nice iron to 100-yards out, loft a soft wedge to the green, and two-putt for par. 

Right here Batman and Spiderman apologize to one another, give each other hugs, begin laughing again, and get stoked when mommy pops her head in the room telling them that it is chocolate chip pancake day.  Note to self: every day is now going to be chocolate chip pancake day.

Hole 3: Feeling pretty remarkable after being one over after two holes, my confidence builds.  I pure a five-iron right at the stick, leaving myself a 10-foot birdie putt that I barely miss to the left, misreading the putt.  Par is solid, but I am somewhat disappointed that my birdie didn’t drop. 

Kid analogy?  Batman and Spiderman are at breakfast now.  They run around the playroom while the pancakes cook, giving my wife and I time to discuss our plans for the day.  There is a minor screaming in the background when Batman takes Spiderman’s toy, but that is diffused immediately when the pancakes finish.  Note to self: cook pancakes as quickly as possible.

Hole 4: This is the Holy Grail of my round, the part I still cannot believe even happened as I write it today.  Ryan and Dan, ya gotta back me on this one … otherwise it begins to sound like one of those stories where I caught a fish THIS big!  I bomb a drive over a fairway bunker on this extremely short par 4 right next to the green.  My buddy jokes that I should go ahead and hole the birdie from there, but I quickly remind him this is not a chip for birdie.  This is an unheard of chip for EAGLE.  Riding the emotions of my successes, I punch a little 9-iron that trickles on the green.  The ball is looking good, I’m thinking.  Holy smokes, it’s looking REAL good.  It snakes perfectly through the pretty severe right to left break and drops for eagle.  I drop to my knees, club falling out of my hands, not knowing what the heck to even think.  An eagle?  Seriously?  One under par after four holes in my first  round of the year??? 

This is euphoria!  This is Batman and Spiderman cheering all the more as they sit down to their pancakes.  Batman quickly reminds Spiderman that we can’t eat until we pray.  Both boys pray.  Being three, Batman’s prayer is a little bit more sincere as he gives a shout out to his family, the pancakes, and the beautiful day outside.  Spiderman’s prayer is more of a “Bless this house O Lord we pray” prayer, but it’s adorable.  My wife and I actually have a conversation while the boys eat.  It is almost magical, as dinners and lunches can cause problems with picky eaters, but we’re dealing with chocolate chip pancakes here.  No problems, baby!  My lovely wife beams at me.  I tell her how beautiful she looks and she actually believes me despite her hair being up, no makeup, and pajamas still on.  Batman and Spiderman finish their meal, ask to be excused politely, and go run off to play again, laughing and frolicking about.  It’s such a warm family moment!  (Now, an eagle is like a once in a lifetime thing, so just imagine this next part.)  My wife has time to call her sister, laughing with her for a good half hour on the phone, the boys are completely content playing, and I get to enjoy a second cup of coffee, a relaxing hot shower, and I go back to bed for 30 minutes, actually falling asleep.  Note to self: if this actually happens, savor the moment and frame it in my heart for all eternity.

Hole 5: I’m between clubs on another par three, but I choose the 9-iron over the 8-iron because I think I’m He-man now.  I’m immortal.  I’m one-under par midway through, and nothing will hold me back now, baby!  As it turns out, a light 8-iron would have been perfect, but I still leave myself a 50-foot putt for birdie.  I lag a beautiful putt uphill and drain the six-footer for par.  Four holes to go, and I am Tiger Woods now.  Well, let’s not go there since good old Tiger screwed up his marriage.  How about Bubba Watson?  He seems like a nice good ol’ guy!  Two Masters championships at least. 

This parenting analogy is pretty easy.  I wake from my snooze, hear a minor ruckus when Spiderman declares he’d rather watch Veggie Tales over Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, but both boys are completely content now because my wife announces we’re turning off the TV and hitting the local park.  Both boys cheer again, get dressed without arguing, and actually get in the car with no problems.  Note to self: savor these moments while they last because you never know when the you-know-what is going to hit the fan. Nothing like a little foreshadowing to douse reality on Utopia. 

Hole 6: The wheels officially come unraveled here.  I despise this par five!  I duff my drive 40 yards to the left, take a mulligan because Ryan insists we all get one, add a penalty shot because I’m somewhat honest, and hack my way to a double-bogey.  In the blink of an eye I go from one under to one over.  I am no longer Bubba Watson.  I’m just Bubba now, a mere mortal realizing that actually keeping a score under par would just be too easy. 

Parenting analogy?  Batman and Spiderman arrive at the park and immediately throw a tantrum because they don’t want to sunscreen.  Batman goes with me, Spiderman with my wife.  It takes all of 10 minutes for Batman to fall from the monkey bars and scream bloody murder as if he were in a torture chamber.  Spiderman’s meltdown comes about 30 seconds later across the way as he runs to the fireman pole, misjudges his footing, and clocks his noggin right smack dab in the middle of it.  The tears flow like Niagra Falls long enough for my wife and I to realize that this park trip is done!  The trip to the car is highlighted by Spiderman shooting webs of fury at me, the bump on his noggin growing to the size of a cantaloupe.   Note to self: always sunscreen at home and be sure to pad every fireman pole with those spongy foam paddings they put on field goal posts.

Hole 7: I love this hole!  Slight dogleg to the left.  Just use my patented draw, knock that sucker on the green, and two-putt for par.  Easy, right?  WRONG!  This is the one hole my draw turns into a slice.  I knock the snot out of the ball, but it airmails straight into a thicket of woods.  It’s a goner.  One stroke penalty.  I drop and promptly knock a 5-iron in the greenside bunker.  Trying to remain positive, I see this as being able to truly experience the course.  You haven’t lived until you’ve hit from a bunker!  I blast out and promptly three-putt–AGAIN–for an unprecedented triple-bogey.  Or as my wife would call it, a vulture.  (She thinks all golf scores are named after birds.  The higher your score, the uglier the bird you get.)  I have officially imploded, going from one over par to four over in the blink of an eye.

Back to my parenting analogy.  This hole obviously represents lunch time.  Mommy whips up some nuggets, fruit, and pretzel sticks only to have Batman declare, “NO!  I WANT PIZZA!”  Spiderman chimes in, “YEAH, PIZZA!”  They go from 0 to 60 at the drop of a hat.  God bless her, my wife holds true to her morals.  After all the third commandment in the Ten Commandments of Parenting reads, “Thou shalt not short order cook” (2 lunch 5: 7).  Spiderman, screaming and kicking, is placed in his chair, crying desperately for his paci.  Batman runs away, gets put in time out, and my wife and I inhale our lunches while we say things like, “Stop crying and I’ll get your paci,” and “Batman, your behavior is NOT okay!” and “Lovely lunch, honey!  Pass the salt.”  Spiderman chucks a pretzel stick at Batman, clocking him in the eye.  I leave the table, telling my wife that I have to use the restroom, but the truth of the matter is that I just want five minutes away from the chaos that is lunch.  My wife somehow puts both boys upstairs for rest time, shuts their gate, and falls on our bed in exhaustion. Note to self: this bathroom trick is quite amazing!

Hole 8: Long par three straight uphill.  Bunkers guard the left edge of the green.  Woods right.  I hit three-iron, hoping the extra club gets me up that hill, and it could not be placed any better.  Smack dab in the middle of the green.  But those darn slick greens are killer, and I misjudge my putt again, three-putting for bogey.

Back to Batman.  He and Spiderman are mine now.  I spent an extra five minutes in the bathroom with a Sports Illustrated.  It was heavenly!  I’m out now, and all I hear is giggles upstairs.  I flip open the laptop and check my e-mail and ESPN.com, finding out the Royals actually pulled out a victory.  This day is taking a turn for the better.  I catch a quick snooze on the couch, wake up at three, and hear nothing but quiet.  Like a stealthy ninja, I tiptoe up the stairs and peek into Batman and Spierman’s room.  Spiderman is out like a light on the bed.  Batman, knowing he’s just too cool to nap, is reading a book in the corner and smiles at me.  “Daddy!!!” he says excitedly. I whisper, “Hey, buddy,” and survey the lovely decorations Batman has adorned his room with.  The underwear drawer is out on the floor.  Ah, so that was the ker-plunk that shocked me earlier during my slumber.  Underwear is hanging from the remaining dresser drawer handles.  It honestly looks like some sort of festive Christmas decorating party, when the tree is beginning to be adorned with ornaments and the rest of the living room is littered with stuff you haven’t put up yet, because Batman has also decided his blocks needed to be sprayed about the room.  And I forgot to mention all the books from the bookshelf are now piled around Spiderman, to which Batman declares, “I made him a house!” Note to self: it is wise to check on Batman’s rest time–especially if he’s giggling.

Hole 9: The last three holes have made me realize I am no longer Bubba Watson.  I’m no longer Bubba even.  I am a pathetic 38-year-old wanna be golfer just hoping to survive the brutal dogleg right last hole.  I drill my drive down the left side of the fairway keeping well clear of the marsh and lake off to the right.  Laying up with a 6-iron, I leave myself about 110 yards to the green and loft a beautiful 9-iron that lands just short of the green.  I have a 20-foot putt straight uphill for birdie that is starting to make my knees shake, but I take a deep breath and just hit the darn thing.  The next thing I know, that ball is rattling at the bottom of the cup, making the sweetest sound every true golfer knows and craves. 

As for Batman?  He’s a pleasant little guy now!  Sure the room is a mess, but I’ll take content Batman and messy room over tantrum-laced Batman and clean room any day.  Spiderman wakes up, and screams out, “Daddy!”  I give him a hug wondering how the heck this kid was screaming his head off the last time I saw him awake.  My wife awakes refreshed, we clean up the decorations (aka underwear, blocks, books, etc) and take a family walk to the park.  Take two!  This trip is pleasant though, and the boys get all their energy out.  We decide a Pappa Murphy’s pizza, Batman and Superman’s original wish for lunch, is the way to go for dinner.  They boys inhale it like they haven’t eaten in days.  I high five my wife and enjoy a few minutes of bliss, sipping my Diet Coke and enjoying the pizza. Note to self: aint nothing better than pizza and Diet Coke for dinner. I suppose that’s why I never can quite lose that last 10 pounds!

Post-game card signing:  I whip our cart up to the clubhouse and find out I’ve shot four over par for nine holes.  A 40!  For Bubba Watson that’s not that great, but as we all know, I aint no Bubba, and I’ll take 40 any day.  After all, I am merely a mortal, a balding middle-aged mortal, and I’m cool with not being perfect.  I’ll tell you what was perfect though.  It was perfect knowing I spent two hours in fellowship with two great Christian friends.  It was perfect soaking in God’s beauties on a glorious afternoon.  It was perfect knowing that eagle was on my card, a rare feat that will probably never be topped in my lifetime.  Finally, it was perfect driving home with the windows down, my left hand out the window, the cool evening breeze tickling my skin. 

My parenting analogy finishes with an after dinner tradition.  We get out in the backyard and play in the little plastic swimming pool.  My little superheroes laugh, my wife and I enjoy a chat on the patio lawn chairs, and the boys actually cooperate for bath time.  I am told by my wife that she’s got bedtime tonight.  “Take some time for yourself,” she tells me.  Hey, you don’t need to twist my arm!  I take those offers every time!  I prop my feet up, get on my computer, and type a post for my blog.  It’s nothing profound.  Just thoughts.  Thoughts about a round of golf and raising my boys.  Of Birdies and Batman. Note to self: every once in a while a low key, enjoyable blog is needed.

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