Larry Sullivan

Larry Sullivan

I had almost forgotten what if felt like to be taken out of the starting line-up.

That sensation came roaring back into the forefront this week.

For the past couple of months, we have been filling the role of starters when serving as first-string supervisors overseeing every action made by our only grandson, Landon. The “We” is this case requires further explanation.

Truth be told, wife Tammie – and I can go ahead and expect another lengthy period of the silent treatment for publishing her name in print – is the one who was actually handed the starting assignment’s game ball. I merely filled in on an as-needed, relief-role basis. It must also be duly noted that daughter, Jenna, who treasures every waking moment of time she can spend catching up on her offseason sleep, gladly sacrificed preferred pillow time for the sake of being saddled with the underlying uniform changing duties among her specialized pitching-in efforts. Still, the duties were considered ours as an organization-wide, three-player team.

The positions were made available courtesy of our somewhat relaxed summer schedules. My wife – who I can only name once per our written prenuptial agreement – and daughter each work for the Mooresville Graded School District. Only if I wish to be locked out of the house for an indefinite period will I reveal which particular school. With additional free time available, we eagerly desired to fill it by opening up our dugout for the welcome presence of our youngest, most precious and newest team member.

(A word of caution: If you continue to tire of my continued reference to practically all things considered in a sports-related manner, then please understand that is the only way I can fully express my intentions.)

This marked the second full summer of Landon’s young life on our extended roster. It is by far his most cherished one of the two training camp appearances. It seemed as though he displayed another talent on practically a day-by-day basis. He continues to throw anything resembling a ball of any shape and size with either hand, revealing a hint of ambidexterity. If any toy features wheels, he is quick to push, pull or ride it with equal enthusiasm. He has learned how to start some motorized vehicles as well as operate some of the dashboard controls. We are careful to secure the keys to prevent him from locking himself inside. (That comes from personal experience.) There are so many items in his turtle-shaped sand box that there is barely enough room to fit in his bare feet alongside those of a nearby coach.

He opened up his learning curve to expand his field. Landon places a pointer finger to his lips indicating silence, raises his arms to be carried and zeros in his sparkling eyes when watching baby birds in their nest awaiting the arrival of their mother for more nourishment. He is careful not to touch the birdhouse upon being informed that would prevent the Mom from returning to her team. He seems astonished at the speed of their growth.

Like all grandparents, rookies as well as veterans, we can relate. We understand that children, too, spend only a limited amount of time near the nest. We have been relinquished somewhat of our player-sitting responsibilities. The rides back home from our daily games will not be nearly as anticipated with the knowledge that our prized prospect is in another dugout. It will serve to make our road trips together that much more memorable.

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