“Choke up on the bat, throw the barrel, stick it in the mud, don’t heave your chest, use your arms, keep your eye on the ball.”
This is the frequent rhetoric being thrown at my seven year old as he reaches the plate ready to hurl the ball with a bat. Who is that competitive female sitting in the bleachers spouting these plays called his mother? I don’t even recognize her. I’ve become a Spartan matriarch who has tossed her seven-year old to the wolves dressed like children in baseball uniforms. Since the beginning of the season, the Marlins wearing the jade jerseys have lost repeatedly. We have been on the receiving end of disappointment, crying fits, and disenchanted expectations hoping for a game that would promise excitement, a sense of accomplishment, a feeling of achievement, a sense of victory for G-d’s sake! And that was just from the parents.
We have been dishing out hundreds of dollars on extra coaching. We have driven miles and miles in California bumper-to- bumper traffic for extra practice. We have suffered through an unthinkable amount of excessive wasteful calories on snow cones, corn dogs, and French fries each Sunday and have put on weight, and anxiety hoping to witness one lousy victory. Just one win, that’s all the kids (I) ever wanted. Do you know what its like to sit in the bleachers with gloating parents?
Well on Sunday, I became a gloating parent. Marlin parents were screaming with excitement upon learning we were in the lead. We dropped our snow cones and kvelled with glee. Noticing the parents of the opposite team clearly tormented, as we had been the weeks before didn’t stop us from reveling in our newfound victory. “Mendy, that’s my Mendy…!” One of the parents shouted as he came around the bend sliding into home. Even my own kid made it to home several times. No longer did (I) our boys hold their heads low contemplating on their failures and wallowing in their own self-pity. They were on top of the world. The coach even lit up like a little schoolboy telling the parents he would be celebrating with a large salad (vs. the small one he eats). High fives were being tossed, a round of hugs rippled through the crowd. Texts and phone calls scattered throughout the parent body.
It was the bottom of the 6th inning, when we clearly had won. But its little league, which means the other team could still play through the last inning even though there would be no way to catch up since little league’s rules are you cannot score more than five points in an inning. The score was 11 to 4. At that point one of the Marlin parents said….”We won, what’s the point?” And our opponent’s coach responded with, “We never tell the kids what the score is, we like to see them play for the fun of it.”
That day we had a 2nd game back to back with the same team we had smeared after our obnoxious arrogant victory. The same team who ironically had the same losing streak as us throughout the whole season.
We lost the 2nd game.
Good thing we didn’t tell the kids what the score was since the Marlin parent motto is- “play for the fun of it.”