Breaking Swings Down, Making Things Up

It’s been a rough stretch for me with the bat.

On the pine where I belong.

On the pine where I belong.

I don’t know exactly how many times I’ve mentioned my ongoing slump in recent weeks, but I have yet to come out of it. There’s no other way to put it: my swing is messed up. Because I’m a “Why Guy,” I’ve already spent way too many hours thinking about how to fix it, but the problem is, I can’t see myself when I’m hitting.

I play in two softball leagues currently, and I’ve noticed that I make much better contact in the 14″ league than the 12″ one. I think that’s because the distance between the mound and home plate is shorter in the 14″ league, so I don’t have to wait as long at the plate. As Lynnette could tell you, patience isn’t one of my strong suits. So I’m probably just not patient enough on the 12″ side.

That’s leading to other problems. I assume because I can’t wait back, I am diving at the ball. Diving at the ball creates two problems. First, it means my head is moving, and that means the ball isn’t really where I think it is in relation to my hands. The secondary problem – the result of that drift towards the mound – is that I’m getting jammed (yes, jammed at slow pitch softball). All I can do right now is hit little pissers to shortstop.

I’m trying everything. I tried the high-leg kick to keep my weight back, but it feels like the ball is in the air forever, and I can’t time that right. I’ve tried spreading my stance open and going with a toe tap, but I feel so uncomfortable doing it that I usually give it up mid-at bat.

I know this is only softball, and I never thought this would happen, but it’s in my head. I’m thinking of seven different things when I am at the plate, and none of them have amounted to much. As I mentioned before, I also suspect it has something to do with my left shoulder not doing what I think it is. This is going to sound ridiculous, but I think I strained it (or something) by sleeping with my left arm under Lynnette. Some nights when I sleep on my left side, a sharp pain in my left shoulder awakens me, and I roll over on to my back. Who knew the cost of cuddling to be so high?

She's proud of her "Kitchen Helper" status.

She’s proud of her “Kitchen Helper” status.

She's got too much of her modeling school mother in her.

The medal is for “Best Utensil Put-Away-er”

Since the softball game obviously wasn’t the highlight of my day, I am grateful for Madison, who is essentially a human highlight reel. She has one chore in our house. When Lynnette clears out the dishwasher – our glorified dish rack – Mad is in charge of putting away the utensils. She’s really great at it, too. She knows where everything belongs and despite her usual initial groan when Lynnette shouts “Madison! Utensils!” She gets through her work quickly and accurately.

While she was doing work yesterday afternoon, I asked about the status of her erstwhile imaginary friend. “How’s Turning Laga?” I asked. For those of you who don’t know or don’t remember, there was a brief period when Madison would refer to someone – or something – as “Turning Laga,” who presumably accompanied Madison in various capacities. Sometimes she and Turning Laga played together. At other times, Madison would regale us with tales of what she and Turning Laga did when neither Lynnette nor I were present. All Lynnette and I knew about this so-called Turning Laga was that his favorite color was red. But I guess I even got that part wrong.

“Turning Laga’s in the mainland!” Madison shouted. I perked up because I knew. This was going to be great. “What’s he doing in the mainland?” I asked. “Turning Laga is a girl, dad!” Madison shouted. “Yeah, dad,” Lynnette chimed in. “You didn’t know that, either!” I yelled at Lynnette. “Yeah, I did,” she said. Then made a face which admitted she did not. “Turning Laga is in Alaska!” Madison continued. “Alaska!” I repeated. “What’s he – she – doing in Alaska?” I asked. “She’s building houses!” Madison yelled. She really was yelling now. “Houses?” I asked. “For who?” Madison waved the fork in her hand, “For people!”

She said that last part so forcefully and bitterly that it implied it was the stupidest question she had ever heard. I mean, who else lives in houses, right? Well, my bad. So, this is what we know about Turning Laga to date: He’s a she. She likes red. She’s a carpenter. She’s in Alaska. I really wanted to ask Madison when she’d see Turning Laga again, but I was intimidated by the tone of her voice. It was either the angry tone of someone who feels the line of questioning is completely pointless or the defensive tone of someone who is attempting to cover a lie. At five years old, who knows? Maybe they’re the same thing.

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