I had to host a fairly large conference call this afternoon, and since I've been working from home and my office is essentially the kitchen counter - Charlie took the kids out for the day. Elizabeth had to get fitted with her new retainer, because her braces were removed yesterday ... and Henry had to have a plantar's wart removed from his hand, because ... well.
He had a wart that required removal.
In the midst of these appointments, which were spaced nearly three hours apart, Charlie took the kids to the park with a bucket full of baseballs, a bat, three bases, and a couple gloves.
Once they arrived at the park, Henry recognized that one of his good friends from 1st grade was there. So while the kids all ran off to play, Charlie struck up a conversation with the boy's mother. In the course of small talk, she indicated that she was a fire fighter and was telling my husband about all of the training and conditioning that she needs to go through. My husband told her that he was afraid of heights and our 74-year old neighbor, a retired fire fighter himself, recently came over and cleared out our gutters because he totally froze after reaching the eighth rung.
According to Charlie, they laughed about this. And I laughed upon hearing the story, because I love his honesty and no-shame policy. He owns his fear and it's awesome!
At one point, they looked down to the field, and upon noticing that the children had recruited more children - and had divided in to teams for a baseball game - they commented how nice it was that the children are at an age where they can keep themselves entertained.
Shortly thereafter, Charlie said he saw that Henry was loudly crying as the third baseman. Even from far away, Charlie could see their pitcher had tears on his face. Suspecting that something was amiss, he questioned how the team's had been divided?
Could the mother of Henry's friend see how they had split up the teams?
She could not. So Charlie walked down to investigate. And what he discovered is that William and Elizabeth and several other athletically inclined kids aged 10 and up, were on one team. And Carolyn and Henry and several other not as athletically inclined kids who were aged 8 and under, were on the other team. According to a nonchalant William, "Mercy Rules" were in play so the first team to reach 10 won. At that point, William's team was up 8 to 0.
So Charlie, being the awesome Charlie that he is, said to Henry, "Hey little man, can I be on your team?" Henry tearfully nodded yes, and Charlie ran out to the outfield, where he caught the next three pop ups to quickly end the inning and get his team up at bat.
He then coached the kids so that at each bat, they advanced to a base. By the time he got up, with no outs - the bases were loaded. That's when my husband knocked the ball out of the park, and in to the lot next door. A few minutes later, he did it again, and the game was tied much to the dismay of William's team who were complaining, "Hey, it's not fair...!"
According to Charlie, since the kids seemed to know all about "mercy rules" he felt it was his duty to teach them about "no mercy" rules. Those are the kind that precipitate when you unfairly gang up on someone else. So as Henry's little friend was running home for the 10th run, effectively winning the game, my husband yelled out, "You are burning up this game little dude, your hooves are on FIRE!"
The little kids were laughing deliriously, the bigs kids were sulking, and the mother firefighter said next time she comes to the park, she'll drive her water tanker. William and Elizabeth politely told her that wouldn't be necessary.
Oh, I love when a good life lesson is learned in the course of outdoor fun!