Building with Nate

Nate has always been fascinated with builders. To this day, he draws blueprints of houses and bathrooms he’s visited, and, without prompting, will tell our friends how they desperately need to renovate their kitchen, or bathroom, or house, supplying a freshly drawn blueprint for their consideration. Our first improvement project in Lincolnshire, IL, was a two-floor addition. Nate, almost five years old, floored our contractors with an incredibly detailed cross-section of our house, created with Microsoft Paint. His skill in manipulating the shapes inthe program is still amazing. He employs Paint with ease, and his ability produces near-Photoshop quality.

Nate has always been an acute observer of workers. Returning home from school or camp, he would rush to the work site to check on the daily progress. When we finished our basement, and redid our kitchen, he was always present, silently watching. To this day he refers back to a photo album of our kitchen upgrade and just yesterday asked me where it was.

When we moved to Cooperstown, our neighbors two doors down embarked on a massive rebuilding effort and Nate was welcome to pop in every day to observe. His attention was so keen that nothing could deter him from his daily rounds.

One day after school, Nate headed down the street. Soon after, I heard him scream, a loud piercing scream straight out of an old horror movie. And I mean a high-pitched female shriek. I heard it loud and clear, though the windows and doors were shut, and I sped down the wet pavement in my socks.

What had happened? Where was Nate? It so happened that a workman brought his dog, which bit Nate on the leg. Hard. When I called him to come down from the second floor, he grudgingly responded, descending the staircase with blood dripping down his right calf.

“Nate, when something bad happens you have to come home!” I was angry and scared. It’s this kind of inappropriate reaction that gives us the most concern regarding Nate’s future. Can he ever be independent if he doesn’t know enough to come straight home when he’s been attacked by a dog?

That was a few years ago, and he has matured dramatically. Still, that memory lingers and becomes prominent as we give him more and more leeway and he demands more and more independence.

Right now, we are having our house painted and Nate checks on the men often, sitting in our backyard swing, wearing sandals over white socks and alternating his attention between pages of self-created Simpsons’ documents and the scraping of old paint.

It’s a sweet picture of a young man in  his happiest moment.

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About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is Mayor of Cooperstown, the “Birthplace of Baseball” and home to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum. His latest book, Split Season:1981 - Fernandomania, the Bronx Zoo, and the Strike that Saved Baseball, (Thomas Dunne Books, 2015), received national attention, with coverage appearing in The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Sporting News and NPR’s Only a Game, among others. Katz appeared on ESPN’s Olbermann and The Sporting Life with Jeremy Schaap and MLB Network’s MLB Now, with Brian Kenny. Split Season: 1981 was a finalist for the 2016 Casey Award for Best Baseball Book of the Year.
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One Response to Building with Nate

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