“Mom! Can we go out in the yard and throw the ball?” This is the question I get from my 6-year-old son 743 times a day. Sometimes before I’ve even finished my first cup of coffee. And, inevitably, I end up indulging him most days. Although we usually wait until after we finish school work. He loves this game. And I love watching him love the game. That is why, on Saturdays in the spring (and sometimes Sundays and Thursdays), I turn into a crazy baseball mom.
It was a bit shocking when the transformation happened. I was fine during t-ball. There’s not a lot to get excited about. They don’t keep score and you mostly spend an hour yelling at kids to stop playing in the dirt. But once “real” ball hit (he was 5), I morphed into a different person. Like, yelling at umpires, skyrocketing blood pressure during the final inning, nail-biting crazy person. I found myself secretly thinking, “If this 6-year-old strikes out, we are golden.” Never said it aloud, mind you, but thought it.
Why? Why does America’s pastime turn mature, sane adults into raving lunatics willing to spend untold hours at the ball field in the blazing sun? Well, in those hours spent at games and practice, I’ve discovered that baseball really is a beautiful game. It’s also incredibly complicated and nuanced. Pop-flies are not “routine” for the 7 and under crowd. The decision to run to second or stay at first is monumental and never easy. And every time our child comes up to the plate, oversized-helmet-on-head, and bat-in-hand, our hearts are in our throats. We know just how badly they want to crush that ball, and if we could help them make contact by sheer force of will, we would.
Most of us really aren’t trying to relive our glory days on the field. And most of us don’t really think they will end up playing for the Braves, although we hope they’ll end up cheering for them as adults. But we all want to see our kids succeed. To see them work hard and reap the reward of winning the game, making the out, getting on base. We want them to learn the lessons this great game can teach them. To understand that teamwork is important and that keeping your head in the game is hard, but worth it. So when you see us, red-faced and anxious, posting WAY too many pictures of our kids on the field, don’t judge too harshly. We will return to normal after the last inning. And, if our kid does end up in the Majors, we won’t say “I told you so!”