As a mom, there is life B.S. (before sports) and then there is life A.S. (after sports).
“Before sports” encompasses that rare span of time that occurs in those blissful seasons before you teach your child to walk and, say, chew gum at the same time.
“After sports” is every moment of your life after that.
I say this only because I have logged more than a fair amount of time at children’s sporting events lately and as near as I can tell, the coordination required to walk and chew gum is all that is required to make it on most sports teams these days.
And even then, only barely.
Nonathletic. I should mention now that I have never been what you would call athletic.
I am, in fact, the person who put the insult in the phrase “you throw like a girl!”
When I was playing (poorly) in organized ball games myself many years ago, the two positions I knew were “far outfield” and “bad at softball.” I didn’t play far outfield nearly enough.
In my own sports days, my signature move was “pretend like you wanted to head the ball and just missed it.”
I always had a hard time turning off my survival instincts. If your basic reflexes don’t tell you to move out of the way when something is whizzing toward your head, you might want to reevaluate how much weight you lend to your instincts’ opinions, that’s all I’m saying.
You say I’m bad at sports – I say I’m great at survival.
Season. This is the first season our daughter was eligible to compete (and I use the term loosely) in a youth softball league.
The girls who range from 5 to 9 and boast a combined weight slightly less than a puff of air – being made up almost exclusively of spindly legs and glittery barrettes – are playing on a field the size of, conservatively, Maine.
The girls were so little on that playing field that I felt they should have had a sherpa guide, or at the very least a chaperone, to bring them back in from far left field.
Our coaches, bless their hearts, were kind and intrepid souls – both male by the way – who remained unflaggingly upbeat even when it became painfully clear that most of the team would rather discuss princesses and Britney Spears than actually connect with a softball in any meaningful way.
More than once, our coaches stood perplexed on a forced time-out because, being men, they forgot that females (no matter the age) are biologically unable to go to a public restroom in anything smaller than a herd.
When half your batting order is on a potty break, the game simply stops
You can bet that never happens in the major leagues – with the possible exception of nickel beer nights.
Encouragement. Once the game started, we parents contented ourselves with shouting from the sidelines, encouraging the kids and losing our voices imparting sage sports wisdom such as “good try honey!” even when the child in question actually dropped a ball that had only by the grace of God actually landed in her glove.
Showing their true athletic mettle, parents shouted helpful advice such as “Run!” “Throw the ball!” and “No, no the other way!”
There might be other competitive strategies in softball, but I think those three pretty much sum it up.
The kids did their best to follow the advice despite the fact that any given player had about 5 percent chance of hitting the ball, a 15 percent chance of hitting pure air and an 80 percent chance of running in entirely the wrong direction mid-play.
My favorite moment from the game was this:
Father on the sidelines: “Taylor, are you supposed to be on first base or second?”
Taylor (shrugging): “I forget. Daddy can we get ice cream now?”
I enjoyed the games, really I did.
Yet I think we were all glad to see the season finally end.
I decided right then that if I have another child, I’m going to encourage him or her to become a solitaire champion.
Unless the legal driving age is lowered to about 5 so children can drive themselves to games, I don’t see any other way out.
(Kymberly Foster Seabolt is a champion sideline sitter. She welcomes comments c/o firstname.lastname@example.org; P.O. Box 38, Salem, Ohio 44460; or http://userweb.epohi.com/~kseabolt.)
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