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Welcome to Manny Stiles ' Daily Weekday Column:
If you have a Father or you are a Father (or both) you know how lucky a person you are!
What a day! One I won't soon forget. More aptly described as "one I will never forget".
Please forgive the differing nature of today's 'Cookie...
With Father's Day coming this weekend, let's take off the robe of Manny and dip into the pool of Erik for a moment if y'all don't mind.
I am a Father.
It has often said that any fool can be a Dad but it takes something "special" (being a real man) to be a Father. Today, was a day when being "special" came easy and hard all at the same time.
(Pardon me as I celebrate myself as part of a special Father's Day extravaganza on the Cookie)
..... let me catch my breath.....
For starters, five years ago, my daughter, my first kid, was actually born on - get this - Father's Day - under very strange, unusual and "lucky" circumstances that I won't get into at this time other than the fact that my wife is still alive thanks to modern medicine. That's just a reference point...
But let's go back a ways first...
My Dad was a unique individual in his own right (what? You thought I got this way by MY efforts?) His Dad was an illegal immigrant that snuck into the country from what we now call Croatia via Canada during the first months of the Great One - no, not Wayne Gretzky, World War I.
Not much is documented or known about my Grandfather. He did a halfway decent job of eliminating his tracks. I have one single picture of him - a copy of the only known picture of him - rocking the style of the day - you know, the mustache that Hitler made very uncool about two decades later - and other than a list of his aliases he used (what? You thought I got this way by MY efforts?) little else is known about the man. Why? Because he died of tuberculosis (Ironically, now I root for T.B.! ) while digging ditches and busting hump in the coal mines of the hills of upstate Pennsylvania a mere two weeks before my Dad was born - the youngest of 6 children my Grandmother would have with my Grandfather (she would add more kids later). The year was 1937.
My Grandmom on my Dad's side (not to be confused with my other Grandomom, the still alive and kicking 103 year old Philly Athletics fan) - who was adopted and a vagabond in her own right - was piss poor, living in a house with no electricity, 6 kids and a dirt floor, no husband and no job - She did what she had to "do" (thus more kids). I won't get into that or those details right now... and she did a good job of not preserving those details for posterity's sake, as well.
Needless to say, my Dad never had much of a male leadership figure, or at least not a steady one to model his future role of fatherhood - and raising me. At the precious, tender age of eight I was keen enough to forgive my Dad for not being able to be that male leadership figure that I so desperately needed. I specifically told my Dad one day - amidst a shouting match (Yes, my right-to-the-death Leo Dad and I, the airy, know-it-all and willing-to-prove-you-wrong-with-documented-facts Libra never really "clicked") that I was going to learn how to be a Dad by not doing what he did (or doing what he didn't, depending on the case) and that it wasn't his fault for not knowing how to be a FATHER... so I forgave him for not being a Father.
And though I'm guessing it "bothered him" at the time - getting dressed down by his 8 year old son and all infront of his barbershop patrons - I think at that point we gained a slight, yet deep understanding of each other. He was going to do what was "right" according to him and I was going to do what i felt was right for me. Hey, it worked for both of us.
Fortunately, I knew from very early on that I was born to be a FATHER and a Dad. Not just something I felt, but something I HAD to feel. That was my purpose! And I had possibly the best bad example to learn from.
Don't get me wrong. My Dad is a great fellow. Nice, courteous, respectful and decent to everyone. Except to his kids, that is. Or as my older sister puts it - "that's just Daddy being Daddy"... (Sound familiar??? Yeah, the "apple not falling far from the..." story...). And don't blame it on me! I have another brother that has mostly avoided our Dad for the last 26 years.
Don't get me wrong, I deep down do love my Dad... and I wish we could have had a better relationship... he "tried" - not very well or often enough... He just wasn't the right guy to be my Dad and I wasn't the right guy to be his son. And I think we're both cool with that knowledge. And I often say that my Mom was more of a Father than my Dad was... that's not a joke, that's just how it is. Happy Father's Day, Mom!!!
And you know what? I'm glad it was that way. It worked out for both of us just fine... He now, at nearly age 71 has step-grandkids he loves dearly and my kids (who have only met their paternal grandfather once) have a Dad that not only wants to be the best Dad he can be, but also wants to be the best "Father" he can be for them...
Maybe this year, I WILL call Pops and wish him a Happy Father's Day, anyway? (Right after I call my Mom, of course)
Anyway enough background... about Today,
My son and I bonded like never before. Today, my son stopped being a Mama's boy. Today, my son - even though he is not even three - had exactly the same talk I had with my Dad at age eight. Except it was different. Exactly opposite. It was unspoken. It makes me want to cry joyful tears recalling it (yes, I am crying now)
My son loves me! And my son has the best Father and Dad he could ever wish for... and he loves me for it.
A little background info... Great... here he goes again... (and an eventual sports tie-in).
(let me compose myself)
My kids have had a very wide array of sports introduced to them in their short lives. Both of them have been to numerous NBA and even WNBA games. Hell, they've been to practices! They have been to TONS of baseball games and even accompanied me to several Arizona Fall League games to the point where stadium employees knew who they were! These kids have been to more sporting events already in their short lives than I was to by the age of 20!!! And they LOVE it!
My daughter (who turns five this week and is a 120% Daddy's girl) can probably name 20 of MLB's teams (the Rays ARE her favorite by choice), 15 NBA teams (she loves the Suns because of the Gorilla) and at least 50 professional athletes off the top of her head - Amare Stoudemire is BY FAR her favorite athlete.
It's not because my wife or I force these things upon her (we don't) but because it is her realm and joy - maybe it's because we went to so many Suns' games when my wife was pregnant? - but she absolutely loves teams with animal names! And her enthusiasm has trickled down to kid #2.
My son (who is almost three and calls me "Dadt" because he has a little funny kid lisp) has been a total football addict from birth. I'm not sure why that is - whether it's the action, the field or the colorful helmets. He was a colicky emepher from birth and seemed to treat falling asleep at night like he was going to be killed. But Monday Night Football has ALWAYS soothed his soul (despite Tony Kornheiser) like nothing else. I swear, he likes watching football more than I do and he is completely smitten by the Cardinals' mascot Big Red. If Big Red makes a cameo on TV, big Sis will scream for him to come and watch! They look out for each other like that. His vocabulary is quite amazing for his age (thanks, Big Sis and one LeBron James) and without a doubt, he tries to act out the movements of his heroes on a daily basis despite his dis-coordinate abilities.
These kids are so into sports that they damned near FORCE me to play Sports games on PlayStation so they can root along to the events on screen! These kids know the word "tough" from my reactions about hockey players on PlayStation!!!
As in "Ooooh. That guy got squished, Dad"... "That's alright" I'd respond. "He's a hockey player. He's tough!"
Since we live in Arizona and it's summertime, it's a hundred and eighty facking degrees outside, we play indoor basketball and indoor baseball, and yes.... I know some of you who love feetball won't believe it.... we also play indoor soccer!
Kids LOVE to kick things! Sure they LOVE to play "baseball" but they only hit the ball with the bat when I thow the ball directly at the bat, so we tend to kick things more often...
Yesterday (as you read this, though it's still today as I write it), we played some indoor soccer between my rounds of trying to dissolve shit on JTJ.
After all, I am a stay-at-home father. If I'm not playing with the kiddies, they will take over the computer! When you see I'm not online it's because my kids are hogging up the keyboard. Yeah, the little freeks are damned near webmasters already!!!
So I try to keep them moving and active as much as possible.
So we were playing feetball with a ball that isn't likely to bust an aquarium - house rule - and as my son reached down to grab the ball (because he's either a floating goalie or the rules of the house state that there are no rules) he forgot that there was a piece of pointy furniture, in the corner of the room - far away from where we were playing "soccer", in between his face and the place where said ball was at that time. I was far across the room and in no place to catch him and...
He smacked the "holy ship" out of his face right on the pointiest cornered furniture in the entire house and then the blood doth flowed gratuitously!
Not dripped... SPLATTERED!!!
And my son yelped at first, because I'm sure it hurt... but he didn't cry!
I ran to him.
And by the time I got to him, there was blood on his hands and his feet.
He had whacked himself square on the mustache area between the nose and lip. Split WIDE the fack open. I checked to make sure his teeth were still intact - they were - and ran to get a towel to catch the flowing redness.
My daughter; ever the caring one started acting as my assistant and translator -changing my words into "Kidish" and easing what she assumed would be the fears of my son.
But he wasn't crying. His tolerance for pain (as it has been since birth) was astounding.
Big Sis was trying to calm him but he was already calm. He was fascinated by the pooling blood at his feet and in his hands and the pain was a secondary feature. I had him hold a towel to his face to stop the flow (he takes direction like a champ) and was able to wrap some ice in a towel to alleviate the swelling - yes, I have been certified in First Aid and CPR.
Luckily, it was also only a couple minutes before Mom arrived home from work and we were able to depart as a family to the Urgent Care center - which just happens to be less than a block away from home.
We got checked in and were directed into the Triage Unit. I took him back as Mom and Sis finished filling out paperwork. He was more calm than I was, even though I wasn't un-calm. I hated seeing my little guy hurt and destined for scardom at such a tender age. We were waiting for a little while and the bleeding had mostly slowed down, but it was clear he would need several stitches.
We sat there waiting and my mind drifted to thoughts of "how many times are we going to be in this situation?" I started envisioning the injuries he'd incur playing sports and doing stupid stuff kids do. Maybe he'd break a bone or two playing baseball or basketball? I was recalling the single time my Dad accompanied me to the hospital for a sports injury - and how he only visited me once - a jammed, not fractured finger, a waste of his time which he would hold against me for years to come. Or later how I would spend almost a full month in the hospital due to a near fatal infection in my adenoids at age 12 and how I'd never, ever let my son go through ANYTHING like that without me being there with him.
So I began doing my best to "explain" to him that the doctors were going to "fix him".
He's two, would he understand? I didn't know, but I hoped that my being there, saying words to him in a tone that relayed "it's going to be ok, I'm here with you" would comfort him. He loves robots so I tried the "the docotr's going to fix you like a robot" angle in hopes that it would help.
He was holding a towel with ice in it to his busted lip obediently as I had instructed him to do. We waited more. We played a little "I Spy" and he was laughing and enjoying himself, holding the towel to his still-bleeding lip. Then, in a moment of silence he told me one simple sentence that made me cry happy, happy tears:
"I'm a hockey player, Dadt. I'm tough." through his little, soft voice hampered by a swollen lip and a face full of ice in a towel.
He's facking two years and 9 months old!!! And the little facker is telling ME not to worry because he is hockey player tough! (I'm crying happy tears now as I type this recalling it.) The little facker is tougher than I ever was!@!!! And I couldn't be a prouder Dad!
The doctor came in to explain the procedure and how "kids normally react" to it. I informed him that my son had a unreal tolerance for pain. But he and the medical assistant were prepared for the worst anyway.
Regardless, I and the medical assistant held him tightly for the procedure with anticipation of the worst. Naturally, he made a little noise when they gave him the needle with the numbing agent - the doctor had to poke it in all diredtions to make it effective, but it was less noise than I, or any other adult would have made - and I do have a tolerance for severe pain (although I'll bitch endlessly about small nagging pains). But he didn't even generate a single, solitary tear.
The only time he even flinched was when the doctor cut the thread on a suture and it landed on his nose, tickling him. He just wanted to scratch the itch.
The doctor was astonished at my son's fortitude (as was I), even saying that many adults don't handle it as well as he did and before we could finish the paperwork, he was playing with Sis' gleefully in the waiting room!
He got 5 stitches, a band aid for a "mustache" and a lollipop.
What can I say? He's a hockey player! =) Guess who is going to a hockey game with Dad when the season starts back up?
And I don't need a damned thing for Father's Day. After 2 years and 9 months of Mama's Boy-ism, I finally have my son! Mom came into the room after the procedure was over (she had Sis with her and the doctor didn't want them distracting the boy while he operated) and for the very first time, the boy didn't need to go to Mommy. He had his FATHER!
He clung to me all night, I ate it up (kinda bragged and talked smack about it to Mommy) and when we got home, ate, had a "treat" frozen pop (which doubled as a swell reducer) and watched the Celts come back against the Lakers together. Then I popped hockey in the PlayStation and the boy sat on my lap as I played until his bedtime.
"Hockey players are tough, Dadt" he said as I poked the buttons on the controller.
I responded "No, Q-Dog, YOU are tough" as I kissed him on the forehead.
Tonight, not only am I closer than ever with him, but I became a HUGE fan of my son. He's now MY hero every bit as much as I am his!
Q-Dog and Dadt.
Just in time for Father's Day.
"Hmmm" about this, I was going to do a NBA Finals recap, stating how Prince of Wands and/or James Posey were the REAL MVP(s) of the Game last night, about how the Triangle Offense looked one dimensional, about how [Holy Shit!!!] Doc Rivers coached his ass off (I apologize, Doc - you proved me wrong) while Phil Jackson was too busy worrying if he jinxed his team at halftime, or how I was going to explain that I like all the players on the Celtics, I just wanted them to lose so Boston sports fans would shut the fack up but I'm not doing a "Hmmm" today! Take THAT!
I guess it's time to start the countdown to the first broken bone now!
Did I mention how much I LOVE parenthood yet?
BTW Happy Friday the 13th to all you superstitious people. Further BTW - 13 is actually a lucky number. It's been passed don through history that it ISN'T a lucky number so people would stay away from it. The people that started that "fear" just wanted all the luck to themselves. So if you think 13 is "bad", you're a sucker! (and a triskadecaphobic dork)
Me and the Family/The Family and I were at a friend's house last Saturday when my daughter was jumping around and my friend said "If you fall, you're gonna need stitches!!!"
I replied "Oh, don't worry about her, the boy will need them LONG before she will" - as wifey nodded in agreement... oops!@!!
When we got home from the medical emergency, the NBA Finals game had the Lakers ahead by 22 points in the second quarter and wifey said "Don't worry. They'll blow the lead."
And then she changed channels to "So You Think You Can Dance"...
As we got re-settled from the Urgent Care visit, finally ate dinner and started to FINALLY relax, she turned the game back on with 7:57 left in the 4th quarter. The Celtics were down TWO points!!!
That was unreal!
Jeremy Schaap, Todd Kalas, Thom Brennaman, Skip Carey, Joe Buck, and whoever else that's in professional journalism and the accepted media because your Dad was so awesome - Show your love on Sunday.
Channel Manny Presents:
W.T.M.F. Sports with your host, Manny Stiles!
Brought to you by Wilson's Nut Kicking Service.
"Buy one nut kicked, get the second kicked for free!"
Reporting on Friday, June 13th... Manny Stiles:
MS - "Hey, 110% of nothing is still 110%... but first, our top story today"
Tom Brady will never know the joy of seeing his kid come out of the inside of its mother... "Lucky" for me, my kids were both born C-Section. Did I mention anything about the smell of cauterized uterus?
If it wasn't for Dad, who would you blame for your crappy DNA?
Mom? I guess it's her fault for finding a guy with such crappy DNA. Go back in time a month (Mother's Day, genius) and let her deal with your wrath!
BTW - Happy Belated-by-a-Day Birthday, to my Mom! (and Joe Montana) I'll call Sunday you to wish you a Happy Father's Day!!! (just kidding, I already called her and left a message about her about her "hockey player" Grandson!)
The Adventures of ManRays
Today's Ray of the Day is...
Honorable Mention - Tim Beckham - congrats on your first week of Rays-dom.
Now get that contract signed, get your ass in the minors and start the road to St. Pete!!!
Go Rays! Beat the fins off those stinky fish!!!
Props to Andy Sonnanstine, who will get another chance to show his mettle with the wood!
A Picture is worth 1000 Dads of Dads
Two Dads who fathered two generations of MLB players:
Happy Father's Day, Ray (posthumously) and Bob!!! (Ha Ha, look at Bret the Juicer and Aaron Facking as kids, the little twerps!)
I know Gus and Buddy Bell did it too... but the Boones were first (and cooler)!!
Dr. Commento Answers the Questions
ATQ – Yesterday's 10 was indeed guys that played College basketball in the Ivy League. Well done, you win a year's supply of imaginary poison ivy. Be careful what you touch!!!
Today question comes from JuT -Clearly you're eating...what'd you do with more money, (buy) a bigger monitor?
You Emepher... my monitor is burning out slowly but surely! It's gonna die any moment now. Squiggles and jumpiness... I know your comment wasn't directed at me but yes, I want more money when you put it like that!!!
Strike a Prose
(another oldie but goodie - and also a M.S. song)
Stages, set, past and pondered
Grooves sinking driving me under
Around the maze again, again
Recycled habits, recycled friends
Thought forgotten and long gone,
remembering the words to a forgotten song
Questioning: why? why? why?
Fack it all - just do or die!
like broken rhythm
they describe him
but can't see what's in him
On to another stage again
Everything is thrown upon the stage
sceneries pass, characters change
One mysterious reason remains
Stuck to the rhythm like a gone-by phase
Can I make it through? Is it really real?
Am I delivered, yet signed and sealed?
Wondering aimlessly: why? why? why?
Fack it all, just do and die
Stage is swinging
tattered, broken rhythm
Don't describe him,
you can't see what's in him
On to another stage again