A Question of Balance

When I went into Nate’s bathroom this morning for the daily laundry pickup, I was confronted with a bit of destruction: on the floor was the light cover for his ceiling fixture and, now visible, a loose bulb and flaking drywall. I stood on the toilet to investigate further.

“Nate,” I yelled, “Did you pull this down?”

He jumped out of bed and was next to me in a flash.

“You’re gonna break the toilet,” he said.

“No I won’t. Did you pull this down?”

“I did.”


His answer was the usual nonsense that gets triggered when he’s upset, or questioned. Things like, “Can I have any cookies?” don’t really help the discussion.

This wasn’t the first time Nate has destroyed something in his bathroom. It’s always in pursuit of amateur rehabilitation. Once he caulked all the holes in his walls, the holes created by push pins holding up his bathroom pictures, with Irish Spring soap because it was similar to the color of the paint. Another time he stepped with his entire weight on the vanity to reach a cobweb on the ceiling. A giant chunk cracked off. The boy is a hyperlexic Godzilla.

I tried to get the light cover back on, with no luck. At one point, the bulb moved up into the cavity of the fixture and all the lights in the bathroom went out. I trudged down to the cellar to flip the fuse back on. Now I’m afraid the house will burn down. Another worry caused by Nate and, when these unexpected miserables arise, I think how constant his issues can be and how, in some matters, his improvement is so slow.

Later I was at the gym, trying to overcompensate for nerve damage in my legs with better muscle tone. I don’t think that’s even possible to do, but I’m trying anyway. While standing on two blue balance discs, my phone rang. It was Karen.

“Did you tell Nate to call me?”

“No, but I left his cell phone on on the kitchen table,” I answered totteringly, trying my best not fall.

“He just called me and said, ‘Mom, are you going to pick me up to go to Stagecoach?’” That’s our Cooperstown coffee shop.

I’ve been working with Nate on calling out. He’s very good at answering, but has mostly refused to call, no matter how many times I show him how. He doesn’t have an iPhone and his GoPhone is not that easy to navigate. What’s great about Nate is he’s paying attention when you least expect it. Obviously he soaked it all in and, when he finally decided he needed to, made a call. That bodes very well for his future and ours, giving me the firm belief he could be on his own, away from us, knowing to stay in touch without our prompting.

So, I have a call in to the electrician for the bathroom light. The morning stills ticks me off, but after hearing Nate made a phone call it turned out to be a pretty good day after all.


About Jeff Katz

Jeff Katz is the former 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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