All my life, I’ve been told that I look like my mom.
As long as I can remember, nobody’s ever really told me I looked like my dad.
Until recently, I should say.
My wife has always said that I favor my dad. And lately more people are starting to say the same thing.
But I’ve never really seen it. I guess it’s because you get used to everyone telling you that you look like your mom that you have that image ingrained in your mind.
That all changed this morning.
As I was brushing my teeth, I looked up into the mirror and saw my dad’s face staring back at me.
I had to do a double take.
I even did the old Bugs Bunny head shake, thinking I was seeing things.
But there it was, clear as day.
His nose. His eyes. The way his mouth would settle in the corners. And his hair. Not as dark as his was, but the mixture of grey with auburn mimics the mixture of his salt and pepper hair. Even his glasses, which always seemed to be just a little bit dirty with a few scratches.
It’s funny that I should see his face in the mirror, because Monday night I spent the drive home from baseball practice thinking about him.
I’m coaching Kaleb’s baseball team and that night was a rough practice. We didn’t look that sharp, our players were goofing off too much and Kaleb mouthed off to me a couple of times.
As I was talking to him about the practice, I started to channel my dad. My dad loved sports, he wanted his boys to play sports, but he never forced us to do it.
I never heard him tell us we needed to play better or try harder. He just encouraged us to try our best and work hard. He encouraged us to not quit, to see it through.
He never had any delusions that either one of us was going to be a star at LSU. That never stopped him from supporting us though. And it never stopped him from encouraging us.
And thinking of that caused me to change my tone and talk to Kaleb more about setting a good example and trying his hardest.
I told him I didn’t expect him to be an All-Star, I only expected him to want to work as hard as an All-Star. Kaleb has a great work ethic. But I think at times I’m a little hard on him because while he’s got a strong work ethic, he is also the most chill kid out there.
Nothing really bothers him. Whereas other kids might go to the dugout and cry after striking out, Kaleb was the kid that would jog back to the dugout and say “Oh well, maybe next time.”
As a parent who is also trying to balance the competitiveness of being a coach, it can get frustrating. But at the same time, it’s a trait I admire in him. He doesn’t get flustered.
So as we were driving home Monday, I just did what my dad would always do, I praised him for working hard, for setting a good example by running laps when he mouthed off, for wanting to not only be a better baseball player but a better teammate.
My dad never got a chance to coach us. His offshore jobs kept him from being able to commit to all that time. But he definitely “coached” us in his own way, by encouraging us.
I’m lucky I get to do both for Kaleb and Logan. I can coach them in an official capacity, and I can encourage them as a dad.
It’s funny how when you’re a kid you might catch yourself saying “I hope I’m not like my dad when I grow up.” Because dads just aren’t cool when you’re a teenager, right?
But as you get older, you wish you could be more and more like him.
And the morning you wake up and realize that you are just like him is a glorious thing.