Thursday, April 17, 2008

T-ball: a window on the world

The Boy has started t-ball. He could start at 5, even without being in kindergarten yet, and his team is mixed with first and second-year players. He's taken a few community center music and gymnastics classes, and a non-competitive soccer skills class, but this is his first real "team."

We have definitely stepped into a microcosm of society, this thing they call Little League. It's a big league, with about 800 kids playing all the way up to what they call "Majors." No pressure there. Fancy fields, complete with required parent fundraisers and elaborate concession stand. Must get gray baseball pants, cleats, no cup required yet (YET? THIS IS T-BALL!!!), have mitt and bat, decide on batting helmet later.

A few practices and two games later, and he loves it. Whew. Don't mind the tongue. That's just his usual photo pose for the last, oh, YEAR!

With our "slow to warm up" boy who hates new things, I was afraid we'd be dragging him to the field. He is definitely not the fastest kid on the team, and since half of them played last year, he's running to figure things out, but he's having fun. His coach is wonderful, very encouraging and fun, without the pressure I was fearing. Some of the kids are already friends, and several go to the neighboring school, where The Boy will go in September.

Watching him practice is like a workout for my heart. I don't want him to get embarrassed if he doesn't know something or can't throw as far as the other kids, or puts the batting glove on the wrong hand, or isn't the fastest kid on the team. Trying to watch him (and, at one practice, chase Bitty Girl) and meet the other parents leaves me exhausted.

I wonder how much of my anxiety he can feel? He's so much like me, and while I'm trying to look encouraging and positive, I'm afraid he can see me worry. I honestly don't care if he's the best hitter or the fastest runner--I just don't want him to feel frustrated.

Sometimes I think he'll do better if I'm not there, projecting my worries onto the field. He hasn't quite figured out yet that Daddy is a much better t-ball parent, since he can coach first base and help you put the catcher's equipment on. All Mommy does is cheer and send weird vibes.

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