Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Friday, March 28, 2008

The Perfect Pitch

Last night was a perfectly beautiful Spring evening. And, as we do on so many Spring evenings, husband and I found ourselves at the ballpark, communing with kids and parents who have found a common bond in loving America's pastime.

I love the world of Little League. It's true that have to put up with the occasional Competidad, trying to relive his glory days through his child, whom he sees only as an extension of himself rather than an individual, much less a little boy. It's true that we occasionally encounter a Coach whose only qualification is screaming at the television through countless World Series.

But for the most part, it's a positive and enjoyable experience. Both of our boys have been playing baseball since they were big enough to hold a bat level without tipping forward in accordance with the laws of physics. We've been at the same park for 8 years now, and the people there are like family. We know everyone and everyone knows us. It's one of the few social outlets we have, so it's about more than sport, it's our opportunity to connect with other people.

Pre-Pubescent One is the more accomplished player. He has a natural athleticism that has been honed by several summers of playing AllStar ball, which is competetive in the extreme. Diminutive One is less athletically inclined, but what he lacks in that regard he makes up for with dogged determination.

Last night, the coach put Diminutive One on the mound. It was only his second or third time pitching, thanks to a disastrous and humiliating experience last season, at the hands of an incompetent Coach whose capacity for nepotism was exceeded only by his general suckitude as a person.

So when I saw the he would be pitching, I became very, very anxious.

Pre-Pubescent One has been pitching for years, but it's still difficult for me to watch him. When he's doing well, it's exhilirating. But when he's doing poorly, it's disheartening and stressful. Not because I care one whit about his perceived failures, but because I know that he is mentally berating himself. Neither he nor Diminutive One cut themselves any slack when it comes to their performance on the field. They are their own worst critics; the harshest judge and jury.

But I can't get up and leave. I can't hide out until it's all over. Because they know. And they interpret my abandonment as doubt about their ability. They need my confidence, they need my faith. And counterfeit or not, they get it.

So I sat and watched as Diminutive One warmed up and then took the mound. His face was a study in concentration as he adopted that familiar stance. He bent one knee and rested his elbow on it. The other arm he cocked behind his back. He stayed that way until he felt zen enough to begin his wind-up. Then he straigthened up, brought his hands to his chin, and began that slow, methodical boy dance that in time, becomes fluid and effortless.

Right now, for Diminutive One, it is still deliberate and rehearsed. And as he went through the motions, I could almost hear him coaching himself through each step, though of course, the words were contained inside his own awareness.

When the ball was released, I held my breath.

It was a perfect pitch, straight down the middle.

Because he has not yet developed a lot of speed or power, (most coaches preach accuracy first, speed later) the batter contacted easily, sending the ball far into center field.

But it didn't matter. His two worst fears, disgracing himself with a ridiculously wild pitch and hitting the batter, were suddenly behind him. He had been brought in as a relief pitcher, so he only threw about 7 or 8 more pitches before the inning was over. There were no strike-outs, no dazzling theatrics, but he did the job and he did it competently.

He beamed from ear to ear as the players hustled into the dugout to exchange gloves for helmets. I saw his confidence return and his dreams of being a pitcher restored. He began believe in himself again, and I began to breathe again.

And baseball, I realized, is sort of a metaphor for parenting. As much as we want to, we can't step in and throw the pitches for them. We can't field everything that life throws at them. We can only watch from the sidelines, lending strength with our presence, comfort when needed, praise when appropriate. We can cheer them on and tell them winning isn't everything, but we can't take away the bitter sting of failure.

I watched my beautiful, ebullient son accepting praise from his teammates, basking in their approval; proud, content, happy. And I wished it could always be as easy as throwing the perfect pitch.

12 Comments:

  • At 7:07 AM, Blogger Avalon said…

    Perfect post.

     
  • At 8:18 AM, Blogger Leigh said…

    Beautiful!

    My oldest son's first Little League game ever is tomorrow. Is it ridiculous that I am way more nervous than he is? LOL

     
  • At 9:33 AM, Blogger sltbee69 said…

    It's one of the finest moments in parenting when you see you child overcome their fears and gain confidence. Hooray for DO!

     
  • At 10:02 AM, Blogger anne said…

    What a great post.

    Good for your son and good for the coach.

    My children both played soccer at young ages (5-7). They had the benefit of having a coach who didn't know a whole lot about soccer but DID know a whole lot about how delicate a child's self esteem is. He would sit down after every single game and write a newsletter. I sill have them. In his write up of the game, he always mentioned every child and which of their special skills (running like like a racehorse!, blocking like a brick wall!) helped win the game. And every child got to play in every game, no matter what.

    I hope the season goes well for your sons. As a former LL kid myself, I always felt baseball in the warming days of the spring is almost magical. Enjoy!

     
  • At 12:58 PM, Blogger Trenches of Mommyhood said…

    Another great piece I instantly connected with, BA. Thank you.

     
  • At 2:18 PM, Blogger Terri said…

    I second Avalon, perfect post!

     
  • At 3:22 PM, Blogger Hairline Fracture said…

    That's awesome!

     
  • At 3:53 PM, Blogger Mary Alice said…

    Sigh....that was truly lovely. A perfect sports analogy that even a non-sporting woman could love!

     
  • At 9:05 PM, Blogger the only daughter said…

    I had similar feelings whenever my daughter was put in as goalie. It was her least favorite position but she was nearly always the best girl for the job, or the tallest player there that day. ;)

    More to the point, I agree, perfect post.

     
  • At 7:20 AM, Anonymous Angela said…

    Yes...perfect!

     
  • At 12:42 PM, Blogger Tela said…

    Great post and metaphor, but I couldn't, for the life of me, figure out which kid was pitching. Was it DO or PO pitching?

     
  • At 1:25 PM, Blogger ~*~ Jennifer ~*~ said…

    You know... there are some who say, "No Sports."

    Well -- I for one disagree. I want my kiddos to learn how to handle stress in a fun environment. I pray for my kids as they get put on teams, that they will get put on teams with competent coaches, and fun loving team mates!

    Thanks for the great story -- good read. I'm clear up here in Iowa... so our little league starts just this week. Yippee... I can't wait!

     

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