I have to admit, I turned into one of those moms at the baseball field the other night.
Let me tell you a little about my son’s baseball team. The league is for first and second graders, however, our team has one kindergartener, and only two second graders. This means that a lot of the kids have never played before, and they have absolutely no idea what they’re doing. I totally understand this! They’re little kids and they are there to learn. Learn implies being taught. My son, Logan was the absolute worst kid on his team last year. We worked with him, encouraged him, but he just couldn’t hit the ball or pay attention on the field. Let me make it perfectly clear that he was not forced into playing, he WANTED to play. I would ask him after the game if he had fun, and he would say, “I saw 17 birds!”
At the end of last season, their team made it into the playoffs. Logan had maybe hit the ball twice all season. It was heartbreaking to watch as a parent, let alone a fiercely competitive parent who puts that part of her character on lockdown. I let him know all the time that losing is OK, as long as you tried your best. Still, he was that kid. But then, a miracle happened.
It was the bottom of the 7th (last inning in little league) tied 7-7, bases loaded, and my son is up to bat. You cannot begin to understand my angst. I ran over to the bench behind the fence, all of the parents giving me the aw, it’s ok, it’s all over faces, accompanied by comforting pats on the shoulder. “Eye on the ball buddy! You can do it Logan!” I called out to him. He swings, strike one. He swings again, strike two. I have chewed off every fingernail. I had IBS. Then, the most beautiful thing happened. He hit the ball! The one that really mattered. He advanced the players, they won the game, and moved them to the next round of the playoffs. It was the coolest thing ever. His best friend was the one who brought in the run, too. The coaches picked them up on their shoulders. I lost my mind. I had tears of joy and pride running down my face. Parents were high-fiving and hugging as if our sons had just won the World Series.
Logan got his first taste of victory, of accomplishment, and he was hooked. He couldn’t wait to play again this year, now that he knew he was capable. So, here we are at the game last night. Their first two games they lost miserably, and by miserably I mean like 20-0. Then, last Friday, it was like something clicked, and almost every kid was hitting the ball, we scored a huge amount of runs, and had our first win. The problem with our team though, was that they had NO IDEA what to do in the field. Once they got the ball, they just held it and didn’t know where to throw it. When they did throw it, the word aim did not factor in. We were hitting the ball, but our fielding needed serious work.
Half of the challenge with six and seven-year old boys, is getting them to pay attention and stay focused. So, Logan’s out in left field, literally, not figuratively, well actually, a little of both. He’s kicking the dirt, looking up at the sky, tossing his glove up in the air and catching it. I call out to him to pay attention and put his glove on. He does, and a ball is hit out his way. He picks it up, right next to the kid running from 2nd to 3rd and doesn’t tag him. All he had to do was stick his arm out. This is what I’m talking about, he just spaces out. So I yell to him, “Logan, good job buddy, but you have to pay attention!” And just then, it happened.
One of the moms decided to poke the bear.
This particular mother was sporting a circa 1985 sleeveless denim dress to mid calf, the kind with a yoke neck, empire waist, and pleating. No joke. The look was completed with a butter yellow turtleneck, and white socks and sneakers. This I have come to know as her standard uniform, minus the apron.
So, after I yell out to Logan, 10 feet from me starts shaking her head, and waves her finger at me in “no-no” fashion, looks me in the eye with a condescending chuckle and says, “IT’S OK! IT’S OK! You DON’T have to YELL at him!!”
The words were out of my mouth in a split second, “EXCUSE ME? He’s MY kid and I’ll yell at him all I want!” In front of all the other parents, who were secretly applauding my awesomeness, in my mind. I shot lasers at her from my eyeballs.
If I were one of those shitty parents who’s all win at all costs losing is unacceptable, I would totally understand where she was coming from. But I’m not. I believe in encouraging them to do their best, and my son likes to space out, and as his mother, I will always try to snap his focus back. Some of the other kids let the ball roll right by them, and their parents say nothing, and I don’t yell at them or their kid. As I said earlier, learning takes teaching. That’s fine if you want to reward your kid with a day off from plowing the fields for not even trying, but I don’t roll that way. All I expect is that you try your best, even if you suck. Period. Would I reward my kid for not doing his homework? Fuck no. But if he tried his best, you bet your ass I would. If my son wants to play a sport, the basic idea is for him to learn it, which means staying focused and giving it his best.
So at their next game, as I’m warming the batters up and encouraging and joking with all the kids, hopefully she has learned not to poke the bear again. You parent your way, I’ll parent mine, and if you yell at me again, I’ll kick you in your fat exposed ankles.
Categories: True Stories