The oldest started tball this spring. It was quite an experience for all of us.
We all had different emotions going into it. Roanin was excited with the idea of a new sport. A few months before signups he was thrilled with the idea of baseball. Shawn, having played baseball all of his life and even a stint in college, was over the moon. From picking out the gear, to teaching Roanin the basics...this was right up his alley. I was pretty excited myself, with the idea of one of a kid's rites of passage being upon us and kind of got lost in the idea of grass-stained white baseball pants and all kinds of gear laying around the house followed by junk food from the concession stand.
Once the season actually arrived, Shawn and I were still strong in our excitement for what we knew was going to be great. Roanin, on the other hand, became timid and apprehensive about the experience and fought us about going and participating. His little shy instincts reared their head and demonstrated their staying power.
Each game was met with the same discussion. Lots of excuses, concerns and tears were followed with listening, reassuring and eventually pushing. As parents, we were really sucker punched with this one. Although Roanin has always been shy, he has recently started really preferring to stay home and in comfortable and familiar situations. We found ourselves struggling not to turn into Dance Moms but also push our little boy to not shy away from things that scare him. This often called for split second decisions of how to handle it in front of an entire team of his peers and their parents. Yeah...that was fun.
|That's my Roanin. On base, with one toe holding his ground, as not to push the third baseman off. *sigh*|
We gently pushed, and he would eventually go and try. And it was good.
As I sat in the bleachers the first few practices and games, I noticed that this is like the start of the real world. Up until now, Roanin has taken familiar, consistent and gentle directions mainly from Shawn and I. The only exceptions being his school teachers and the leaders in any little activities. But almost all the outside leadership has been female and as touchy-feely as you would expect from someone working with 5 year olds.
The tball coaches were as sweet and as kind as they could be, but they are men. And strangers. And they aren't exactly trained in coddling and the skill of helicopter mothering. They are like the training wheels of little boys entering the world. The crutches used from the inside to the outside. Watching good efforts and injuries from a foul ball being handled like they should be handled for a 6 year old boy about to start first grade was a little like riding a roller coaster for me. I was simultaneously thrilled and scared shitless. Watching my baby be challenged and watching him rise to the occasion was so amazing. But silencing that weird voice in my head that was encouraging me to stop the game and run to him and dry his tears on third base was murder. I just had to sit there on those fiberglass bleachers and feel my mommy heart stretch and tear a little bit so that we can both get to that next level.
And the boy can HIT. Catching and throwing were a little painful to watch, but that sucker knows how to swing a bat. Even when they moved to farm pitch, he would pound one after the next. But even with the skill to play the game, my little guy would quietly follow all of his team members from infield to out, from the batting box to the team circle. Never first, almost always last.
But he was there. And he was growing. And I was there. And I was growing. And I was quiet unless I needed to be otherwise.
And I watched his shy little demeanor and I learned from it.
This little guy was his number one fan.
At one game, I finally succumbed to Rexy's requests to use my big camera. He was thrilled. Like 387 photos, thrilled.
And I'm so glad I did. There was something so delicious about watching my littlest demonstrating how enthralled he is with his brother and actually just being able to sit back and watch it play out.
Of the 387 photos, he did get a couple of winners. Like this one of Roanin running the bases.
And this one....probably my favorite one of the season.
So twice each week, to and from the field, Shawn and I showed him our best versions of confidence and eagerness for challenge and opportunity and excitement for the possibility of fun. Because things just seem easier when you have someone demonstrating them for you. The hope is that he gains this skill now, when the stakes basically boil down to being included in the tball group picture, so that in the future, when he is hesitant to chase his dreams or hesitant to ask The One to marry him...he remembers how good it feels to sometimes let go and just let yourself rise to the occasion.And then he will have to completely relearn how to do it on the ball field of his first child's tball game.