When they reached the age of 6, I had already turned 40. Forty? That should be the age of an adult, shouldn’t it?
Well, let’s see how adult I was.
At age 6, the twins were beginning to take an avid interest in sports. I had always loved sports of all kinds since I was their age. I encouraged them to become involved. I made sure they had bats, balls and gloves for baseball, then a football and a basketball. Finally, there were skates, hockey sticks and a puck.
I tried to teach them what I could about each of these sports, and they became better and better at all of them.
I enrolled them in Little League baseball and was even their coach for two of those years. I won’t discuss the record we had for those two years. I can only hope they had fun. Winning isn’t everything, right? Try to convince a young boy about that one.
During this growing up period in their lives, they always wanted me to come out and play something if none of their friends were available. I obliged since I still loved getting out and competing with them.
We started a game where I would become the “all-time” something or other. In baseball, I was the “all-time” pitcher. I pitched while one of them batted and the other played the field. Then they would alternate.
In football, I was the “all-time” quarterback. One of them would be the receiver and the other one was the defender. In basketball, I was the “all-time” defender as they tried to score against me.
In hockey, I was the “all-time” goalie while the two of them tried to score against me. I had no protection, just a goalie stick. I had shins that looked like a road map of cuts and bruises.
Now, I started to think. What in the world was I doing? I was now approaching my late 40s, and my time with them was creating havoc with my aging body. Friends told me that I should “act my age” and let them batter their friends around instead of me. It made sense, but that time with them was so precious, I did not want to stop. I told myself, “Just one more time and I’ll quit.”
Well, one day I finally had to call it quits. The three of us got into a hockey game with many others — enough to field two teams. I thought I could hold my own with my sons and the other young people who were going to be playing. Who was I kidding? My sons were now 18 and I was 52.
My time on the ice was brief. About 30 seconds into the game, a pass came my way. I fanned on it, spun like a top, fell on my head and gashed my forehead over my left eye. It took eight stitches at the local emergency room to close it up.
Did my sons go with me? No chance. They were there to play hockey, not follow their dumb father to the hospital. I was OK with that. I wanted them to play and have fun.
So, after that little episode, no more being the “all-time” pitcher, quarterback, goalie or anything else. I was now the “all-time” retiree.
Painful as it was, I had finally learned to act my age.
— By Richard Hoffstedt, Tribune community columnist