Good Morning! It is Sunday and sunny in the south. Dad, Tink and I are visiting the in-laws, Pop and the Southern Belle for the weekend. We caught a glimpse of Blue Devil as she punched in and out on Friday. It's good to reconnect with family. Buddy cannot believe that we made the trip without him. Guess what pal? We have a life outside of the bullpen ;-)
I have been thinking about what to post over the past few days. I did not have the computer, but I did have access to my convoluted mind and came up with a quick discussion on bad habits....Bad habits, BP mom? What do you mean by bad habits?
What I mean by bad habits are the things that the ball players do (including Buddy) that are not good for the body, mind or spirit AND are not what I taught him as a child.
Bad Habit number one: Have you ever seen a players spit on command? I have...a good spitter can send a thick, round, wad of sputum ten feet and land on a dime. Also, a decent spitter has great accuracy and a tremendous amount of sputum to release onto the earth and upon command. I find it disgusting and could not believe my son had so much liquid in his mouth. At first, I thought that he was spitting out dirt or bugs that he would inhale on the ball field. Then I began to suspect that this was more than a ball field cultural phenomenon, that perhaps he is spitting some substance out that he could not swallow. Are you following me here...'cause this took me a number of months to figure out and now I am much more aware of what is going on....
The substance that these knuckleheads are spitting onto the mound and field (and on my garage floor) is chewing tobacco! Yeah...you are reading this correctly...chewing tobacco...fondly known as 'dip' to the savvy consumer. Never in a million years did I think that my kid would conform to the craziness of the bull pen and dugout by doing something so disgusting and harmful as to use and hide it for as long as he did....at least six months. Chewing tobacco is as addictive as cigarettes without the smoke. It can discolor and erode the teeth and mouth as well as cause cancer (I googled it).
I found the contraband on his desk at home. Yep, on his desk...lying there...the round can screaming: "look at me....your son dips..." As I found it, I could feel a scream coming on but stopping in my mouth. "Uh, son..." "Yes mom?"...."Is this your can of chewing tobacco?"...."What can of chewing tobacco?" ..."This one lying next to you on your desk with your fingerprints on it...." "Mine! HECK NO! It's Dewey's and Meat's, I am holding it for them..."
Oh yes, the 'I am holding this for my friends excuse....' never used in America or throughout the world...not mine, but my best friends. He all but threw them under the bus but was wise enough to know that I would not approach their parents. So, you are telling me that this is not yours, you have never used it, and I am not to worry....correct? And, you are telling me that you tried it once and found it vulgar, yet Dewey and Meat continue to use it? Correct.
Yep, he claims to have tried it once and never did it again. In fact, he has been trying to get his friends off the stuff. Hmmmm...OK for now, but I will be watching and if I see any sign of this again, you're gonna be a very sorry pitcher. I was not sure what I was going to do, after all he was finishing high school and my influence was linked to the car and money. He no longer had to listen to any of my advice because I needed to trust him...right?
And so, high school graduation came and went with the usual fan fare...summer baseball....pack for college...fall ball....the holidays. My son had moved out and was basically on his own. I had to trust that he learned our "system" and subscribed to it. I exhaled for a few minutes until a friend asked for socks for the homeless. She was collecting unpaired socks (which we have zillions) for a city shelter. According to my friend the homeless do not care if their socks match, they are happy to be warm in a pair of red and green socks that cover their feet. Since Buddy had a whole drawer of unmatched socks, I looked at it as an opportunity to get rid of what he does not use (they were in excellent shape, but did not have partners) and give them to someone who could use them and feel warm. His baseball socks were colorful, thick, and warm and perfect for someone who needed more layers of clothes. As I pulled sock after sock out of the top drawer, I came upon one long blue sock that was filled with something other than a foot. Upon further inspection, I found...you guessed it....14 empty cans of chewing tobacco. I also found that I have a great physical constitution because I did not keel over from a stroke or heart attack. I was actually having a stress test in his room and I passed it...no treadmill or monitoring devices needed....the stress test was designed by one of my children and I lived through it.
So, what did BP mom do? The answer is very simple....I searched for a way to make a major league point on a huge issue....the kid is addicted and I had to figure out in a calm, rational way how to help him. Screaming and belittling were ruled out. Locking him in the dungeon was scratched off the list, too. Taking away his cell phone was not practical. I was left with either moving without giving him the new address or having a conversation about chewing tobacco and the harmful effects. I had to be strategic and could not give him a "time out." With that said, I set the stage for parental intervention....I did what any contemporary mom would do...I took a photo with my cell phone and sent it to him with a message.."Want to tell me something?....." The kid was busted and he knew it. How was he going to get out of this one? He was going to have to use his head on this one...a nicotine-free head....
And so, our hero came home to join us over the holidays. I was going to take the little round cans and place them on the Christmas tree as ornaments. I actually like the shape and as they would add interest to our celebration. Yet, I opted for leaving them in dad's office with the sock surrounding the evidence. In a way, it was like the evidence room in CSI. He was being prepared for an interrogation by the arresting officer and the DA.
After an hour discussion which seemed to him like five hours ('cause he had to go out and see his high school posse), he came to the conclusion as I showed him a PowerPoint presentation of the deleterious effects of smokeless tobacco that he would never ever do it again...ever...I mean ever...
I made an appointment for him to visit the dentist to see if there was any enamel damage. Fortunately, he was 'clean.' He promised never to try it again but also found that he was going through withdrawal effects while he was home. I bought thick bubble gum for him to place in his cheek as a replacement and this seemed to work. However, the withdrawal effects were not only physiological but psychological. Fortunately, he is now clean and nicotine-free. I do believe that he is 'off the stuff' as he now chews sunflower seeds and gum at the stadium. The team knows that he has broken the habit and do not offer him any as they had the previous year. Is all of this over? I hope so, if not....I will have to move in with him and watch every move. Come on, BPM, would you really do that? .........What do you think?
More about habits to come....