We all want our children to excel … education, athletics; you name it. Sometimes it doesn’t quite happen the way we hoped it would, not for our sakes but theirs. We just want life to come easy for them. But when we wish for easy, what benefit does that have for them? How do they learn and grow?
I come from a family with a background in baseball. My father and my three brothers were all great baseball players. I played family ball but chose other sports for school. I always imagined by boys would follow suit of my Dad and brothers. So without hesitation we encourage my oldest to play ball. Two years ago was his first time he had little league dreams at the age of 8. At that time I thought, this is it. He’s going to be amazing. Except Emotionally he just wasn’t ready for what came with the game. The practices, the strikeouts, the not getting the position you want to play. I mean come on, everyone knows that the coaches son is always the one that gets to pitch, play first base or catch. They are the spotlight positions. Unfortunately for Christian, he wasn’t the coaches son. He was placed in the outfield, the most boring position that a child with attention issues could be. He stood out there picking grass, mumbling under his breath, throwing his glove to the ground and making a spectacle of himself. He wanted to catch. I understood his frustrations but getting him to understand them and the proper way to express them was a LOT of work that just seemed to go nowhere. No matter how much we talked to him about how he needed to practice to earn the position he didn’t want to hear it. When he would strike out at just about every at bat, he would come off so frustrated, and with attitude, which went on with EVERY single game.
Why was my child so emotionally behind his peers? I wished every time I could help him understand.
A year went by, and I knew I didn’t want to go through it again. So I didn’t ask him if he wanted to play. Then one day after school in the middle of winter he brought up playing in the Stamford National Little League this spring. Flashbacks to the season 2 years ago filtered in my mind. I cringed at his words, ” What about Lacross? I think that would be so much better for you. It’s such an active sport.” He responded, ” No, I’d like to play baseball. ” “Ok I responded with hopes that he would forget. He didn’t. Dreading a repeat of two years ago his dad and I signed him up.
The season has started, first the practices, the “Do I have to go?” The struggle has begun and it is real. Then came the first game, again in the outfield. I waited. I waited for the mumbling to start. I waited for the bitterness and for him to throw his hat or glove on the ground. It didn’t happen. Then he was up at bat, strikeouts every time, and I waited for him to yell and grumble as he walked off the field. But this time, there wasn’t any. There was no kicking dirt. There was no pouting when he returned to the bench. He stood at the fence routing on the rest of his teammates. I waited. They lost. I waited. They’ve lost every game so far, and still I waited. Here we are half way through the season. I’m no longer waiting. I’ve realized that my child has matured.
A couple weekends ago, here they were, The Braves who have never won a game yet, playing the undefeated D-Backs. My son’s best friends team. First time at Bat, 1……. 2…….. 3 strikes and out. He walks off the field totally accepting it. His second time up, his best friend on the pitchers mound. My heart hurts as I watch him step up to the plate. Fear building inside me as I think about how sad he’s going to feel if he strikes out again against his best friend. I sit there, holding my breath it seemed, yelling in my mind, ” Come on Christian. You’ve got this. Keep your eye on the ball.” I watch as the ball comes in high…. he swings at it. “STRIIIIIIIKE” yells the ump. And again, and again. “OUT!”. “It’s ok buddy. Great job!” I yell as he walks off the field. Again without a grumble and with nothing but a smile.
Last inning, two outs, one on base. Christian walks out and takes a couple practice swings. Great STRONG cuts, Just connect with that ball. He steps up to the plate. Incoming…. “STRIKE!” I look down for a second, the next pitch comes in. I look up just in time and hear the CRACK as he drives out through the pitcher’s mound into the outfield. I jump up screaming….. ” Go! Go! Go! RUN! ” everyone in our stands is up and yelling for him. He rounds first and proceeds to second. As he arrives onto the base, he turns towards our stands with a big smile on his face. He throws his arms up into the air with two peace signs and yells ” I DID IT!” Gleaming with pride. My heart stood still at that moment, taking it in. This child, My child didn’t give up. And the feeling that he’s experiencing at this moment is his reward. Our reward. THIS is what it’s all about. He’s figured it out and he’s on his way.
I wish I had a picture of him on second base sporting those peace signs, but I have the feeling of that moment to remember it with and the images of him being awarded the game ball. I couldn’t be prouder of MY best player.
“There may be people that have more talent then you, But there is no excuse for anyone to work harder then you do. ” – Derek Jeter