Scale Model

Happy Birthday, dear Joshua; happy birthday to you! 

My one and only son was born 25 years ago today.   I keep his little sneakers hanging from the rear view mirror of my car.  He actually wore these when he was about a year old.  He weighed 6 lbs., 6 oz. at birth (2.89 kg), and he’s still smaller than I am.  But what can you tell about a person from his size alone?  Not that much.   Maybe it’s the first thing you notice, but you quickly move on.  When Josh was young, I saw this cartoon sequence on Sesame Street and appropriated the nickname “Teeny Little Super Guy” for him.  “You can’t tell a hero by his sizebecame the motto for my son, in my mind at least. 

“Josh is a happy boy.”  That was his kindergarten teacher’s assessment as reported on his first school report.  We couldn’t agree more.  He was a physical comic, dancing and doing pratfalls and stunts even as a toddler.  He was certainly entertaining, and still is.  I wear his High School letterman jacket around proudly, with the awards for choir and band and academics displayed.  Out of that slight stature comes a flexible and deep bass voice…and occasional “throat singing” and vocal percussionHe’s traded his trumpet and euphonium for drums and didgeridoo these days.  His musical talent and interests are wide and varied, and still being discovered.  He taught himself to juggle one day when he was a teenager.  He became a balloon twister in Oregon when he was between other jobs.  Academically, he was always a hard worker and accomplished whatever he set out to do.  He discovered that he likes to build while working on theater sets as a teen and eventually graduated Magna Cum Laude with a degree in Construction Engineering. 

For me, the world is bright and shiny when I’m thinking about Josh.  His energy is infectious.  His sweetness is charming.  He works at a kennel now, and gets “puppy love” in regular doses.  But life isn’t all Kibbles when you’re a young adult trying to make your way in a very competitive country.  College is expensive.  Paying off student loans is a burden.  My mothering heart wants him to succeed without becoming cynical and hard.  I wonder how to help.  Do I act as coach?  Do I act as cheerleader?  I sit in the stands and imagine him banging one right out of the ballpark with all my might and will power, then wait to see the actual attempts play out. 

Coincidentally, the NaPoWriMo poetry prompt for the day is about baseball opening day, or sports in general.  This theme fits Josh.  He did get involved in organized athletic teams as a kid, beginning with T-ball where the smallest T-shirt available hung down below his knees.  In soccer, he was brought off the field in his very first game with a head gash that needed stitches.  I remember someone once telling me “sports don’t develop character; they reveal character”.  This is what I see in my son Josh.

There’s a wind at my back,

And the sun’s in my eyes.

There’s grit in my mitt;

The bat’s two times my size.

I stand at the plate,

And I know what to do,

But how it’ll happen,

I haven’t a clue.

Still, I’m light on my feet,

Feeling, mostly, at ease.

I’ve got friends in the stands

Who are easy to please.

There’s isn’t an outcome

That I really dread.

I know that the worst of it’s

Here, in my head.

I take a deep breath

With my eyes open wide

And swing with the strength

That I’ve gathered inside.


Swing away, Josh!!  Remember, it’s a game.  Have fun!

8 thoughts on “Scale Model

  1. Hooray for Josh’s birthday!! Hooray for baseball?? I guess I can rally something, but my single inspiration is from the 2002 World Series when the SF Giant played against the Anaheim Angels, finally losing in the 7th game.

    What can it be like to watch as a ball
    screams over the plate direct to your face,
    your swift intervention all that’s between
    a run or an out or losing the game?
    To measure an athlete crouching at bat
    and calculate odds of a strike or a hit
    from deep angled arms, weight dropped at the hip?
    I saw a strange knowledge under his cool
    Aflame with a passion, nobody’s fool.
    Til then it meant nothing, only a game,
    a mind-numbing sport for beer swilling blokes
    with nothing to do on fine summer days.
    But close up the cameras brought into view
    the secret of baseball’s famous appeal
    I missed in my lamely bat-swinging youth
    does lie in the dark, predacious surmise
    Concealed in Benito Santiago’s eyes.

    • I probably couldn’t name a current baseball player if I tried. I can name all of the Chicago Bulls basketball team right now, and give you a personal opinion on each. But halftime’s almost over, and I want to get back to watching them play the Celtics.

  2. Happy BIrthday to you
    Happy Birthday to you
    Happy Birthday dear Joshuaaaaaaaaaa
    happy Birthday to you.

    He has such a lovely smile… and I love what you’ve written about him…both prose and poetry

  3. what a lovely post, Scillagrace! I found your reflections so fascinating, especially as my mother and I are in a quite similar place in our lives. Till I read your words (“My mothering heart wants him to succeed without becoming cynical and hard. I wonder how to help. Do I act as coach? Do I act as cheerleader? “) I did not realize that my becoming a young adult presented challenges to anyone other than myself. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I will have to forward this to my mom 🙂

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