My three boys (ages 6, 9 and 12) are all playing baseball and the older two are also playing travel soccer, which translates to a minimum of 5 games a weekend. (I decided I won’t spend another summer in the bleachers, hunched over in back pain so I’m investing in stadium chairs. Check them out here.)
I often wonder how a nice city girl who spent childhood weekends shopping or in an apartment watching “American Bandstand” and classic movies got into this family of jocks.
But here I am.
I have mostly embraced this odd predicament and discovered many benefits of living a sporting life. We attend most games as a family so our time on the weekends is shared, instead of running in a million directions. We are spending time outside so we’re getting fresh air and exercise. We have a community of friends whose kids are also involved in sports so the games are very social.
More importantly my boys — and Wilson– love playing, watching, and discussing sports so I decided long ago, instead of beating my head against a wall, I would join ’em.
I wanted to share something I noticed this weekend at my 9-year-old son, Aden’s baseball game. His team was playing against a team that included some of his closest friends so there was a lot riding on the outcome. Our team was up 3-2 at the top of last inning. The opposing team had 2 outs and 2 strikes so one more strike and we would have won the game. But the teenaged ump made a bad call and the other team walked and then rallied to score 5 runs and pull ahead. Despite their best efforts– our boys loaded the bases in a nail-biting ending– it came down to two outs and two strikes before our last kid swung and missed to lose the game 7- 3.
Who knows if it was the despair over the call, losing to their friends, or just a general unraveling, but at least four of the kids came off the field in tears. I immediately felt sad and helpless watching them throw their mitts in the dugout dirt with disgust. They stomped their little cleats and hung their capped heads as if their whole world was falling apart.
In the past, I would silently condemn the game that breaks my son’s heart in two. No one wants to see their kid suffering, especially over a game that has so little significance.
But Saturday I had an epiphany. As I looked around, I noticed that there were several players who were smiling, drinking Gatorade, and goofing around. Those kids shook off the loss as soon as they exited the field. And for the first time, I felt sorry for them instead of fretting over my little jock, wiping tears with his jersey.
Aden was crying because he wanted to win. He’s competitive and passionate about whatever sport he’s playing. Do I wish he didn’t get so upset about losing? Absolutely.
But this weekend I realized I’d rather he care enough to cry than not care at all.