A parent’s first introduction into the world of kid’s organized sports.
By Kelly Mitchell
Last month marked the opening day for little league baseball all over the country. For my husband and I, it was opening day for Tee ball for our 4-year-old.
And so it begins: our first experience with organized sports-and I mean organized! These parents are not messing around and they know how to get things done. When we first signed up, we were instructed to bring three pieces of I.D., proof of residence and submit our social security number. Are we signing up to join Tee ball or the CIA? In any case, I felt safer putting Curran in Tee ball than anywhere else, being that we have all had full background checks. Geez. Luckily, we have clean records and made it through the process unscathed. Phew!
The next step was to play ball! We have had two practices, and this past Saturday was the first “game.” Judging from the first two practices, I could not wrap my head around how they possibly could be ready to play a game, but they did! It went a little something like this:
Each team got to bat twice, so they played four innings total. There were no outs, no scores, and basically no real rules. It was fantastic! When a child went to bat, his or her objective was to hit that ball. That’s it. So he/she swung the bat as many times as it took. The team in the outfield had the goal of getting the ball, (but some not quite knowing exactly what to do once they got it,) so it ended up in a dog pile every time. It was awesome. The coaches then tried to coax them to throw it where it was supposed to go, but I don’t think it sank in for most kids. Some kids definitely had a handle on it-but not my kid. Which was fine! They were having a ball out there-pun totally intended.
Curran was getting frustrated that he never got the ball. He tried to get it over and over again. It hurt my heart a little watching him try so hard. I wanted to shout “Can somebody please just let him get the ball just once?” but of course I couldn’t do that. Then I’d be one of those parents. When he was up to bat, he hit the ball and got to first base. The next hitter hit and instead of running to second, Curran saw the ball roll right in front of him and seized the opportunity. He picked up the ball! He was stoked! Everyone laughed and even cheered for him, “Yay, you got the ball!” All of the coaches high-five’d him and he was smiling from ear to ear-and so were we.
I am pretty impressed-I have to admit. I have heard stories about people who take it all way too seriously. Maybe that’s baseball, and maybe that was when my little brother played baseball. Times have probably changed, but I can deal with this Tee ball thing-especially our awesome team. I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people to start off our experience on a positive note. There is no judgment, no discouragement; only honest to goodness fun! The coaches are so great, the parents are wonderful and all of the kids are having a blast and making friends. They are learning a little about the game and sportsmanship, how it works and there’s no pressure to do any of it “right.”
Wouldn’t it be great if all sports stayed like this? Come to think of it, wouldn’t it be great if everything were like this? Our jobs, parenting, just…life in general? No judgment, no pressure, just encouragement. For example, my two kids recently had a simultaneous melt down at Trader Joe’s. And I mean full on kicking and screaming, on the floor meltdowns-both of them! I got some “looks.” I had to pick up the 2-year-old, grabbed my 4-year-old’s hand and dragged them to check-out, pushing both little carts while weaving my way through the crowded store. When I made it through check-out, how cool would it have been to have a crowd of people cheering me on. “You made it!” but instead I got a few dirty looks. Not many, but a few. Ouch. We could learn a thing or two from these 4-year-old Tee ball players in the game of life, don’t you think?