We are not an athletic family.
We don’t own sweatshirts that proudly declare our love of a particular team, we only watch the Superbowl for the commercials, and we wouldn’t know where to find ESPN even if we did have cable.
In fact, this video by Garfunkel and Oates pretty much sums up our enthusiasm:
Sports go sports! I totally care who wins!
It’s not that I have anything against athletics, it just never really did anything for me.
But, oh, things are different now.
Now I spend two hours a week sitting on butt-breaking bleachers shouting things like, “Way to hustle!” while trying to keep my little girls from picking up pre-chewed bubble gum and popping it into their mouths (an under-appreciated Olympic event, by the way); my front hall closet is rife with bats and helmets and gloves, and my husband and son are constantly in the yard – not cutting the grass.
My son is on a baseball team.
Not just any baseball team, but a Goodlettsville Little League team, and Goodlettsville will have you know that they have won many Little League World Championships.
These people are SERIOUS. Like $200 per baseball bat serious. Here I thought baseball bats were something you picked up at Goodwill for $5 to ward off home intruders.
It’s an interesting dynamic since Grey has NEVER played baseball before.
That’s right, go ahead and judge, Goodlettsville. My son is ten years old, and he’s never run the bases, or learned to do all that crazy touch-your-hat-touch-your-nose-grab-your-crotch voodoo that pitchers show off on the mound.
Grey can whittle a stick into a spear; he can show you the fastest way to the rock quarry a mile through the woods; he can explain black holes so even I can understand. But he doesn’t know the first thing about stealing bases.
He decided to play fall ball (the less competitive version of G’ville b-ball, THANK GOD) back before he decided to go to public school. He thought it would be a good way to meet kids in the neighborhood. I think he was imagining it would be like that movie Sandlot – a bunch of boys who talked, rode bikes, and played baseball.
He’s been playing for about six weeks and I don’t think he knows the name of anyone on his team. They don’t chat. They don’t laugh. They just hit things with bats (pretty well, might I add), and run.
I was terrified the first time I went to a game. It was everything I could do not to dress Grey in shirt reading I’m new here, please be nice. He came up to bat and I was so tempted to watch through my fingers that I had to sit on my hands.
I’d like to say he hit it out of the park, but no. He struck out.
Then something amazing happened – amazing if you’re the sort of person who chooses to see kindness as a sort of everyday miracle, which I am.
All the other parents, dressed in their various sports-related garb, started clapping and shouting encouragement. One of the moms (who was carefully writing down details of the game into a small spiral notebook) turned around and said, “You should have seen him at practice! He hit a couple of balls really HARD.”
I could’ve cried.
That mom was not saying that Grey was improving his game. She was telling me she saw my son for what he was – a little boy trying something new for the first time. She was saying, “It’s okay to be a beginner.”
I’m ridiculously proud of Grey. He’s probably getting better at baseball. I don’t know. I don’t care. What I do know is that he is a hundred times braver than I am. He’s willing to try and fail, which is, of course, the only way you ever get to try and succeed. He has decided that ten-years-old is not too old to learn something new, which should be obvious, but isn’t.
Watching him has taught me so much about having a beginner’s mind, being vulnerable, being courageous.
Maybe one of these days he’ll even teach me the rules of the game.
Sports go sports!