When I was growing up, you couldn’t tell me that my baseball teams and I weren’t doing something major on the diamond. We were out there hustling, fielding ground balls, and knocking that ball out the park like the Yankees. It was fun and all, but it was serious business while our parents cheered us on.
As an adult, I see how wrong I was. Watching my nephew play little league baseball has given me glimpse into the other side. Being the adult in the dugout and bleachers for the Baldwin Indians was eye opening. There was cheering, but there was much more yelling “Pay attention!” than anything else. I don’t think they heard us at all. All the kids heard was “Yaaaaay!” as they tore it up on the field pointing and under-throwing the ball to first base. It was instructional so no one was ever out and everyone made it around the bases. The winning team was the one who had more kids show up.
I never realized how entertaining little league was. There was one kid on the team who would repeatedly climb the gate and the sign right next to him said “Do not climb the fence.” He also rolled around on the ground and was the first to be playing in the dirt. In fact there were times when the whole team was playing in the dirt. I spent a good portion of the season trying to get pictures of these occurrences that happened at least twice a game. Meanwhile, the coaches would be yelling “Get baseball ready!” Which meant getting into position with both hands on their knees and focusing on the batter. I loved how when someone hit the ball, the whole team would charge the ball and whoever got there first would miss diving on the ground and everyone would topple right behind them. Good times.
There was an evolution in these young boys and girls though. At first, everyone was hitting off of a tee, but a few games in, everyone was hitting the ball that the coaches threw at them. My nephew turned into the power hitter. They would yell “Big hitter at the plate!” That made him and myself feel good because he was being recognized for his ability to hit the ball past the infield. When he wouldn’t hit the ball hard and it would drop right in front of him, he would look annoyed and at the coaches like “That’s it?!” all the while the coaches would say “Run!” in a celebratory tone.
What I learned from this experience was not only being supportive, but how supportive parents are for their children. Treating them like they are our heroes builds confidence that these kids can dream big and do anything. Their small accomplishments are the biggest deals to us because we make them. I know it’s something I need to work on with my nephew. He’s at that annoying age, and I didn’t have younger siblings or cousins to learn how to handle that on the day to day basis. I’m still learning how to not be a jaded adult. Its a process in which my parents are being patient with me through as well.