Magic moment: Letting son witness mom in action

August 18, 1998|By SUSAN REIMER

HAVE I MENTIONED that I used to cover sports? I'm sure I have. Often. Usually in another of my desperate attempts to earn credibility with my 14-year-old son.

"I was the first reporter to write about David Robinson while he was still at the Naval Academy and couldn't jump over the Sunday Times," I say of the NBA great, apropos of nothing.

"I covered Dave Meggett when he played football at Towson University and I was convinced he could play in the pros, despite his size. Sure enough, he was All-Pro his rookie season with the Giants," I say, to no one in particular.

"I remember Denny Neagle when he was pitching for Arundel High, and he's a 20-game winner. I covered Muggsy Bogues in high school, too, and I knew he could play pro basketball because he was quicker than he was small and he was really small," I say, as my son gets up and wanders away.

"Who are you?" he asks as he departs. "Forrest Gump?"

I have no pride. I do everything but trot out my yellowing newspaper clips to cast myself in an acceptable light, refusing to admit that nothing can make a mother look cool to her teen-aged son.

Recently, I played the ace in my deck. I asked Joe to accompany me to the Western Maryland training camp of the Baltimore Ravens football team.

I was assigned to write a story about an organization formed by the mothers of professional football players. (I get all the motherhood assignments. When I said to a new editor, "You know, I covered Ted Marchibroda the first time he was head coach here," he looked up and asked, "Who are you, Forrest Gump?")

Anyway, Joe and I were outfitted with on-the-field credentials, so we were able to watch the Ravens practice from such close proximity we could count the rivulets of sweat trickling down their faces.

"Best back in the league. No bull," one of the players said about himself to Joe as he pulled up at the conclusion of a running play and coasted past us.

Joe walked up the steps to the locker room with quarterback Jim Harbaugh. He filled his drink cup at lunch while standing next to cornerback Rod Woodson. Offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden banged his tray down at our table, pulled up a chair and ate with us, answering questions from me while Joe's food grew cold on his plate. I think he was too amazed to eat. Defensive lineman Tony Siragusa sat took a seat on a bench next to Joe as the players assembled for the afternoon practice and demanded roughly, but good-naturedly, to know who he was and what he was doing at camp. Then Siragusa got into an ornery discussion with me over the merits of having players' mothers organize. I glanced at Joe and wondered if he were still breathing.

If he had had the nerve, Joe would have taken Siragusa's side in the debate. A professional football players' mothers association? Jeez," Joe might have asked, "don't they ever get out of your life? And I think mine is bad because she always volunteers to chaperon field trips."

As Joe and I retreated to the van at the end of the day, he kept saying, "They're huge. They're just huge. Even the hair on their arms looks like it lifts weights."

I reminisced for him: "The last time I ate a training camp lunch with professional football players, I excused myself and threw ZTC up. I was pregnant with you."

Now, I thought to myself, I am bringing you here, hoping against hope that you will think I'm cool. Interesting. Worth knowing. Someone you can be proud of. And I am thinking that this courtship -- this wooing of our children, heedless as they are of our aching love for them -- will never end.

"Mom," he said, and his voice was low and filled with wonder. Could this be my moment, I wondered. The moment when he sees me for the richly tapestried human being that I am, and appreciates me for the depth and breadth of my life. "Mom. This is what you did? You hung with players? And you gave it all up write that column you write?

"Man. What were you thinkin'?"

And he walked ahead of me, shaking his head in disbelief.

Pub Date: 8/18/98

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