So this is the end of Week 2 of working with Maya Bedrossian’s two sons, Jacob and Matteo. We seem to have gotten off to a good start, as Maya’s personal assistant Sandy promoted me to 3 days a week after only 2 days on the job last week. That’s a definite positive development. Like I told y’all when I took the job, I really need the money, and the money I’m getting from Maya is pretty dang good, especially as I’m now getting what she’s paying me for an hour baseball lesson six hours a week.
Because of COVID, the boys are being schooled by a private tutor, a dude whose first name I still don’t know, but who everybody calls Dr. Peterson. He’s got a Ph.D. from Yale and is the kind of dude who likes to remind you of it by talking with a British accent. I reckon he’s pretty smart, but, although I don’t know what you’re supposed to with a Ph.D. from Yale, I got a feeling that teaching a movie star’s 11 and 9 year old boys probably isn’t it.
Dr. Peterson has the boys from 9 to 2, and I get them from 2 to 4 on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. That ought to make them pretty energetic by the time they get to me.
Well…at least one of them is energetic.
That’d be Jacob, who’s a super active kid who loves baseball. I get the feeling that 6 hours a week with me isn’t enough as far as he’s concerned, since I’m a lot more fun than whatever it is that Dr. Peterson tries to drill into his head. He’s different from Cody – Cody’s not so incredibly energetic – but he’s like Cody and Lucas in that he’s the kind of pupil who can’t wait to work with me and says “oh…already?” when time’s up.
And then there’s Matteo, who I was warned about when I took the job. It’s not that Matteo’s a bad kid – but he’s a kid with serious issues when it comes to sports. He’s real angry about being made to do physical activity, and he can get super sarcastic. Way more sarcastic than you’d think a kid his age could be. And that makes my job difficult at times.
The biggest difficulty, which I figured out after working with the boys the first time is that there’s no way to work with both of them at the same time. Matteo’s skills aren’t anywhere near good enough for a regular baseball lesson, and Jacob needs oen of those as well as time to run wild. So I came up with a schedule: I work on baseball activities with Jacob for an hour while Matteo hangs out in his room with a book, then Matteo comes downstairs and works with me for an hour while I keep an eye on Jacob as he swims or runs around.
Jacob’s got potential as a ball player, although he’s rough around the edges. He didn’t start little league until last year, so he’s got less experience playing than most boys his age. There’s plenty of natural ability; it just needs to be honed. He likes to throw hard and wants to hit hard, but the result is a pretty wild swing most of the time. I haven’t taken him to the batting cages over at Chuy’s yet (I haven’t even discussed a ‘field trip’ like that with Sandy), so we’re relying on my pitching on the tennis court, which isn’t the best way to learn how to bat. Even if I’m out of practice, though, I think I can simulate the kind of pitching you’d get in a little league game for boys Jacob’s age lol. (Come to think of it, maybe I need to read a book or at least watch some videos on pitching. I learned how when I was a kid, but I haven’t pitched since, mostly because my heart was always set on being a shortstop.)
I do have a ‘talent’ that comes in useful with Jacob, though. The kid wants to play outfield because he loves running for fly balls. I was always a good man to count on for a sac fly, so I have Jacob toss the ball to me, I hit it sky high, and he runs like a jackrabbit (as Meemaw would say) to catch it. Fly balls are to Jacob what diving catches are to Cody.
So Jacob gets a regular baseball lesson for an hour and then I let him run wild…
…while I deal with Matteo.
It’s already pretty clear that I’m not going to make a great baseball player out of him, although, like I keep saying, having some baseball skills will come in handy. Odds are that he’s gonna end up having to play baseball or softball at some point before he graduates high school, and he might as well not suck at it totally. He’s just got a totally defeatist attitude – I sucked, I suck, I will suck – and he doesn’t believe me that, with some perserverance, he won’t need to suck so bad.
Matteo told me that he always ran the way he runs now. As a result, he even sucked at duck-duck-goose…and he says it’s only gotten worse. One thing he likes a lot about the quarantine is that he hasn’t had to face up to sports in school, where, from what I understand, he got a lot of shit…which he paid back with more shit…which got him even more shit. It’s kind of a death spiral.
My challenge is to get him out of the death spiral and have him not be as hostile and sarcastic as he was to the dude who had my job before me. Sometimes he is, sometimes he isn’t…but I think he still may be thinking of me as the enemy. When we work together, we concentrate on super basics: running and playing catch. It’s not exactly being the kind of baseball tutor I’ve been with my other pupils, but Matteo needs the help…and, like I said already, I need the money. I don’t think my rent is gonna get magically paid next month the way it was in September.
It’s hard going sometimes. Monday he came down with plenty of goodwill…but he got frustrated and I lost him for the rest of the session. It was the reverse on Tuesday: total passive-aggressive bullshit for the first 15 minutes, then he decided he would start listening to me and maybe make a small effort.
I can’t really explain what’s wrong with the way Matteo runs, since pretty much everything he does is wrong. There’s the tippy toes thing. Then he looks at his feet the whole time, and has nothing you can even call a stride as he hops from tippy toe to tippy toe. Even his arms are wrong: he runs with them extended at his side. Remember Mario from the video games? Ok, that’s what his arms look like when he runs. I just don’t get it that nobody ever bothered telling him that he was doing so much wrong, and that he’d be a much better runner if he were at least doing it right, irregardless of his weight.
Same thing with throwing a ball. And with catching a ball. If you throw hard at him (like his brother likes to do), he flinches half the time instead of putting his glove out. Then I realized he was having trouble keeping balls in his glove and I started to wonder if the glove he had wasn’t too small for him. Sure enough, it was time for a field trip to the sporting goods store.
Only Maya doesn’t want the boys going out. So I figured out the boys’ sizes – I had to buy Jacob a glove if I was getting one for Matteo – and went to Sandy to see if we could order gloves off Amazon. She said it was fine and let me pick out the gloves using her computer. Then she told me that, within reason, I could get any equipment I needed for the boys. All I had to so was ask her and show her what to order.
That was a good sign, I felt, so I ordered a football to throw around with Jacob. I like the kid a lot, but I need to think of ways to help him burn off the energy he builds up sitting with Dr. Peterson for 5 hours straight. I think I like Matteo too, but with him the problem is getting him to have any energy at all.
Mostly that means I need to up my teaching game. Being a baseball tutor just got more complicated.