Kent Bush: My boy is already an all-star in my eyes

Kent Bush

There is a plank missing from the Excedrin marketing platform.

How they have failed to use a tee-ball game in one of their commercials is beyond my understanding. After my 5-year-old's first time in the dugout, I think his coaches needed a few. I doubt they are alone.

Like any good dad before a big game, I spent a little time the night before going over scenarios that he might face.

When he was hitting, his wise father gave some great advice.

"Son, don't hit it to the pitcher," I told him. "He'll catch the ball and throw you out. You need to hit it to third base and give yourself a better chance."

"Got it, Dad!" he said with a thumbs-up sign, giving every indication he understood.

Apparently, he was.

He came up to the plate for his first at bat, got a little advice from his coach and drove a grounder toward third base.

"Just like I taught him," I thought.

And then it happened -- well, nothing really happened.

The runner from third came in to score. Unfortunately, my son was still waiting there to welcome him home.

By that time he was getting a lot of help. His coaches, his team's fans, fans from the other team. heck, even the umpire told him to run to first.

And run he did -- safe at first, even after a brief commercial break.

His coach stood with his hands on his knees and his head hung low after the exasperating at bat.

My heart rose safely back into my chest after having the horror pass.

In the scorebook, it looks like any other RBI single.

But he wasn't finished "learning" just yet.

His coach told him, "When Austin hits it, you run."

Blake nodded like someone who knew the plan. Austin hit the ball a mile and Blake ran -- just as he had been told.

But next time he is spending time on the Internet, I guess I need to take him to Google Maps. He ran all right -- straight down the right field line.

His coach -- who at this point was beginning to understand my initial point about Excedrin -- told him to turn.

So Blake turned. He went from the right-field line into center field.

He realized there was something wrong because there was no base to run to. Then he jogged back to the dugout.

Dear old dad is about to explode with equal parts humiliation and rage.

But Blake was all grins. Apparently, he thought he was supposed to be having fun.

The next two at bats were much better. He hit it to the third baseman every time, and every time he got on base safely. He even scored thanks to Austin's powerful home runs in the next two at bats.

As the game wound down to a fitting end, I knew it was coming -- because it always does. I knew he was going to ask me how he did.

A wise friend of mine recently recounted something he was reading about a father's love and how important our approval is for our sons. One thing he said has haunted me since he said it.

"If your approval is that important to your son, it better not be very hard to earn," he said.

That hit me hard. I'm the dad who has told my son that excuses only let people feel better about themselves when they don't deserve to.

I knew I better not come up with another gem like that. He'd never want to go to the field again.

I was trying to think of something to say. Maybe I could tell him I liked the way he looked in the uniform. My parents even joked that he was setting himself up to be the most improved player on the team.

"He set the bar pretty low for that one," I joked.

But further thought allowed me to see some bright spots. He did hit it where we had practiced every time. He ran to center field, but no one ever got him out when he ran the bases correctly.

We focused on the positives and I discovered that he had a great time. He thought he did just fine.

So we'll keep working on some of the basics and, hopefully, his coaches won't need as many trips to the medicine cabinet in the future.

No matter what, he won't have to go very far to impress me. In that game, he's already an all-star.

Augusta Gazette