Bean played four seasons of little league baseball back to back. So, when he told us last spring that he wanted to take a season off, we were happy to let him. He played golf instead, and had a pretty good time. He ended up with a strong little swing. Summertime came after that, and we take a break from everything in the summer months. But by late summer/early fall, it was time to pick teams and sign up for whatever the kids were going to be doing.
Chris and I are pretty firm about the kids extra curricular. They have to do scouts or something else that teaches them to be good human beings. And they have to play a sport. We like sports not because of the athleticism (although, that is wonderful), but because it teaches them how to work with a team, listen and learn from a coach, work hard to improve at sometime, to stick to a commitment, and all kinds of other good life-skills. So far, we haven’t seen much from either Bean or Gracie that tells us they will be Olympic athletes anytime soon, but we don’t really care if they are good or not. It’s the experience at this age that we are committed to.
Bean struggled picking his sport for this fall. He went back and forth from soccer to golf to baseball to golf to soccer. And finally, Chris and I intervened. We haven’t had to do that yet. We’ve always let him pick and choose. But he was flip flopping so much and so often, and we really needed to get him signed up for something. We knew from experience that he doesn’t like soccer. He played before when he was younger and he just wasn’t into it. And we knew from experience how much he loves baseball, and how good he is at it, so, for the first time, we forced him to play a sport.
A few weeks ago, they had a Little League clinic so players could work with coaches and get themselves ready to play again after a summer off. We really had to force Bean for that one. He was really mad that we were making him go. But ten minutes into the clinic, he was smiling and laughing with his baseball friends and telling Chris (who was coaching) what a great time he was having.
It took every ounce of strength in my not to say, “I told you so.”
There was two weeks between the clinic and try outs this past weekend, and so we were right back to the grumbling and complaining this Saturday morning when we took him up to try outs. But, once again, he had a great time when he got up there and he actually did a really great job. They do three different skills that are evaluated by all the coaches in the league during try outs. (Which aren’t actually try outs; they are “player evaluations” because everyone gets to play.
They just try to distribute the skills levels so that the teams are about equal in playing levels.) His first skill was running and Bean’s a pretty fast dude, so that one was a piece of cake. Next, they do some fielding. He has to stop two ground balls and throw them from 3rd to 1st base. And he caught both and made two great throws. Lastly, he had to bat. Dude struck out, but he went down swinging! I was really proud of him for a great evaluation.
Also, while we were up there, Gracie was reunited with her longtime buddy, Austin, who is just about the cutest human being to ever walk the earth. He is crazy about Gracie and she is crazy about him. Austin’s older brother plays baseball in the same league as Bean and so he is always up at the baseball fields whenever we are. Plus, Austin and Gracie went to daycare and preschool together, so we have known their family for a few years now.
As soon as Austin saw Gracie across the baseball field, he came flying up to us and then he and Gracie had the sweetest conversation ever.
“Hi, Gwacie!” Austin said. “Want to come pway wiff me?”
“No,” said Gracie, who was huddled under a blanket with me in the stands. “I’m too cold.”
“That’s okay,” Austin said. “When you get cold, I’ll just hug you and you’ll be warm again.”
And that was all it took. She jumped right down and off they ran. (I fully expect to tell this story at a toast during their wedding one day…)
By the time we left the baseball field, Bean and Gracie were both pretty pumped about baseball season. Bean was talking about his friends that were playing and he saw some of his old coaches, and that excited him, too.
I’m not a fan of forcing kids to become athletes. It makes miserable children and pushy parents. But I know my kid. I know what he likes and I know what he doesn’t like. And sometimes, it’s my job as a mom to step in and “guide” him (with force…) where I know he will learn, grow, and be happy.