Column: Happy birthday, Kid SmileyMy son turns 40 next week. He’s the youngest, the last child of our blended family to reach this milestone. When I think of him, it isn’t always the bearded man with graying hair who comes to mind.
By: Andrea Langworthy, Staff Columnist, Rosemount Town Pages
My son turns 40 next week. He’s the youngest, the last child of our blended family to reach this milestone. When I think of him, it isn’t always the bearded man with graying hair who comes to mind. Sometimes, it’s the little boy who was dubbed “Kid Smiley” by his friend’s parent. Six foot three and thin now, he was a roly-poly baby who didn’t walk until he was 14 months.
Then, he went straight from crawling to running. He ran with such gusto, he took a lot of spills. The morning his pediatrician pointed to an x-ray and explained my 2-year-old would need to wear a shoulder brace because he’d fractured his collar bone, I kept saying, “I promise. I don’t beat him.” The doctor had a record of a previous trip to the emergency room after my little boy had careened around a corner and crashed into the brick and board bookcase in his playroom. Even though I’d covered the shelves with bright red stop sign-colored felt to make them safe, that fall resulted in a gashed forehead.
My son loved sports. Especially, baseball. When he was 12, he and two of his friends coached a teeball team at the neighborhood park. Many days, I would come home from work to see him sprawled across his bed, a serious look on his face as he worked on the team’s lineup. Or figured out their stats. That was when scores were still kept for teeball. During an exciting afternoon game at Valley View Field in Bloomington that summer, my son and his friends coached their first-time ballplayers to the city championship and the youngsters brought home trophies.
I watched my son play ball on many Bloomington fields. First, it was teeball at Wright Park. Later, night games under the lights as he advanced through youth teams, Babe Ruth, and Mickey Mantle. There was even one game at the Metrodome. Usually, though, I baked in the hot summer sun from Hopkins, Columbia Heights, and Rosemount to Marshall, La Crosse, and Moorhead. I’ve forgotten the town, but I’ll always remember the morning my son’s bat connected so well with a ball it resulted in every player’s dream — a well-earned home run.
I’ve always thought of him as a perfect son, but he’d be the first to say he wasn’t. If pressured, I’ll admit there were a few times he gave his dad and me cause for concern. Like the day he and a friend got into trouble at school. As they say, though, he “stepped up to the plate.” Instead of whining that the high school’s principal shouldn’t have suspended them, my son asked to give a speech at the year-end baseball banquet. He apologized to the coach, the players and their families and said he hoped his teammates could learn from his mistake.
“If you think it’s hard sitting on the bench during a game,” he said, “you don’t want to watch from the bleachers like I had to.”
Nowadays, he plays softball and says he doesn’t hit homers. I disagree. As part of that all-important team, his family, he’s a heavy hitter. A devoted and patient father to his four children, his time is spread between two jobs and the day to day things it takes to be a good parent. Somehow, he still finds time for his mother. As I said, I think he’s a perfect son.