Tuesday, March 02, 2010

"Are we the Tigers? The Braves? The Yankees?" "No kid, you'll never be the Yankees on my watch."

He has never played before. Sure, we have thrown the ball back and forth a few times in the yard. One time, he took a ball to the face, directly triangulated between his eyes and the bridge of his nose. He was crying and I was torn up for the pain I had caused. I wouldn’t let us stop throwing until it fun for both of us again. He had a hard time catching, snatching at the ball in flight, pulling his head and eyes back and away from where they needed to be. His arm was not bad, though. The throws came back to me on an arc, but not too much of one, with some pop into my glove. Not bad for a six-year old I thought. As for hitting, he has swung a plastic bat at a wiffle ball tossed gently from a few feet away. His swing was all elbows and twisted, ending up like a cartoon character who corkscrews himself into the ground.

Now, he is on a team. “What the name of my team?,” he wants to know. I give him the name of the sponsor, but he wants to know the NAME, you know, like the rhinos or the dolphins. I have to admit I don’t know, but will try to find out. Right now, I am amazed he isn’t the tallest one on the team, as I was all those years ago. I know how other parents must have felt, seeing my huge self out there with their more normal sized kids. “That kid is seven?” my mind reacts. “No way.”

I have sat through two events now, a day of scrimmage and a practice. Sit. Pace nervously. It is all the same really, isn’t it? I tell myself I don’t care if he is any good, and I probably am truthful. I do want him to listen to his coaches though, to be obedient and respectful, to understand that the ‘play’ of baseball is encompassed within the play of baseball. So far so good. He dances a bit in the field, he dallies on the way to and from the dugout, and he has already picked the middle of an inning to announce loudly, “I have to go to the bathroom!” Mostly though, he looks the coaches in the face when they are speakig and does what they say. At the end of the practice, I ask “Are you having fun?” “Yes!” is the immediate reply. I believe him.

His questions for me have come during the middle of when he really should not be paying attention to anything but baseball. Sitting on first base after hitting the ball in practice last night, he swiveled his head to find me down the right field line. “Did you see me Daddy?” “I saw it Buddy,” I replied. “Now pay attention to the batter.” If you were to ask me if I was having fun, I would reply “Yes!” and you would believe it.

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