~ Filling the Bucket ~

Bloom where you are planted.  Seize the day.  You only live once.  Right?

Well, it's harder than it sounds.  Life gets busy, schedules get full, kids get crabby, parents get exhausted.  

Sometimes the days just fly by, sometimes they crawl.  But they always seem packed full.   We’re often too busy to stop and smell the roses, or in this case, the infield dirt. 

I’ve had this idea for my son, Rocky, for about 2 years now and every time I put the wheels in motion to make it happen, something else seemed to take priority and my idea kept getting swept under the rug.

Until last Friday. 

Rocky is 8-  he loves baseball.  All day, every day...7 days a week.  

I see a passion in his big brown eyes for baseball that makes my heart stretch.  

He plays it in the backyard, googles it on the computer, studies his baseball cards, and doodles pictures of Busch Stadium and Cardinal players in his school notebooks. 

He spends most days thinking about baseball as well.  He’s a worrier by nature, so he genuinely worries about things like:

What If I get traded from the Cardinals, will I have to live far away from you guys?  Would you move with me?  

Do they give me some extra tickets so my buddies can come to some games?

Do you get a pee break if you play outfield?   

All questions he’s asked out loud. 

In his 8 year old mind, he is going to grow up and play for the Cardinals.  End of story.

Sometimes I day dream about my kids as adults.  What will they look like, where will they live, how many kids will they have.  What will Rocky- the husband, the Dad, the adult- look like and sound like in 20 years.    

Will he make good choices?  Will he get along with his wife?  Will he have a job he hates?  Will he have any regrets?  Will he still love baseball?  Does he know he could have done anything he wanted with his life?  Did I put enough water in his bucket?

Ah, the bucket.  I heard this great analogy once,  it’s not my own.  But I try to picture my children's minds as buckets.   A bucket that I fill with water…as he gets older people will poke holes in that bucket.  But I gotta keep pouring in the good stuff so he has plenty in reserve for when that happens.   As parents, we can pour in anything we want.  Love, kindess, faith, confidence, self-discipline, all the other things they will need to move them forward in life. 

So last week I surprised him.

I told him to put on his Cardinals outfit because we were going to do some pictures, but I didn’t tell him where.  He is so used to me sticking a camera in his face he didn’t think twice.    Although I should have had my camera out to capture his face when we pulled up to Busch Stadium, home of the 2011 World Champion St. Louis Cardinals.

It was a perfect surprise because he fell asleep in the car on the way there and woke up to that gorgeous towering brick building in front of him. 

With big wide eyes. 

Rocky :  Mom, what are we doing here?

Okay, if you haven’t figured it out yet, this is the part where I tell you I rented out Busch Stadium for my kid.

Hold up, wait a minute.  That last sentence made me sound like a BALLER.   In the interest of full disclosure I should tell you that anyone can rent Busch Stadium for 30 minutes for $175,  so I’m not quite as cool as I sound.   You get a little tour of the stadium as well, and our tour guide was the sweetest lady ever. 

Judging by the look on her face when we arrived, I don’t know if anyone has ever rented the whole place for an 8 year old.  

It’s usually reserved for things like bridal parties and corporate events.  But whatever, I’ve always had a flair for the dramatic.  My kid likes baseball, I’m trying to fill his bucket, so here we are- open those doors and start pouring, lady. 

The whole experience was so freaking cool.  We got to enter through a secret VIP door and go through hallways and underground pathways that most of the public never get to see.

“Does David Freese walk this way to the field?” he asked our tour guide.  “Of course,” she said and smiled.  He stretched his little arm out and smoothed his hand down the length of the hallway with a big smile.

We stepped onto the field.  To have that majestic building, usually filled with roaring crowds, completely silent was breathtaking.   

I wanted him to take it all in. 

I wanted him to smell the grass, crush the dirt beneath his cleats, sit in the dugout and feel the wood of the benches,  play catch with his dad in the outfield, and for a moment really think about what it would be like to play baseball on this field. 

They call it Baseball Heaven for a reason. 
Rocky is a hell of a ball player.  Has been his whole life.  He was born with natural talent for the sport.  So what are the chances Rocky is going to grow up and play in the Big Leagues? 

Um yeah...slim to none. 

But don’t you dare tell him that.

Right now he is 8 years and the world is his oyster.  There’s a great big world to explore. 

He doesn’t know yet that talent isn’t enough, that talent has to meet opportunity, and opportunity has to open the door and meet the right people.  He doesn’t know there are thousands of other 8 year old boys who play baseball every bit as good as him. 

One day he’s going to be an adult and realize the oyster sucks and tastes like crap, and I hope I’ve equipped him with enough confidence and water in his bucket to do anything with his life.

Nobody said he had to be a professional baseball player when he grows up.  If he does that’s awesome, because he promised to buy me a house with a pool on the inside.

But he has alot of options.  We all do.  Maybe he won’t be a big league slugger, but maybe he’ll be an umpire or a coach.  Maybe he will broadcast the games from the booth, or be in charge of keeping the grass pristine.  Hell, maybe he will put on a 30 pound hot costume in 100 degree weather and be Fredbird. 

Wherever he goes and whatever he does with his life, I hope it brings him as much joy as baseball did when he was an 8 year old little boy. 

Filling the bucket folks, as much as I can.  Because if any of my kids grow up and work in a 4 ft cubicle, 9 hours a day with beige walls pushing around papers on their desk for a boss that’s a jerk,  then I didn’t do my job.  I don't just want to tell them they can do anything with their life, I want to show them. 

Of course, I can’t do cool photos like this and not offer them to my clients.  Father's Day is right around the corner.  I'm excited to set up an evening to devote to family session in Busch Stadium. 

 It gets tricky with the Cardinals schedule starting up, but if you’re interested in a mini -session for the boys (or tomgirls) in your life, send me an email...   Kellymanno@yahoo.com 

Now if you’ll excuse me,  Luci wants to be a pop star when she grows up, so I have a phone call to make to Taylor Swift's “people”...kidding…or am I ;)

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