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Saturday, June 4, 2011

A new kind of heart break

Today I experienced an emotion that I had never felt before, it was kind of mix of helplessness, rage and compassion.  It was the first time I was able to see Parker play baseball. I have seen him play T-ball, but now he is in the farm league and the difference is that they can strike out and they have a pitching machine..  The game was already an hour and a half, can you imagine what it would be like if an 8 year old pitched? I would have grandchildren by that time.
Parker certainly looks the part. He is a handsome little guy, sandy blond hair a medium build, a little taller than average but still right in the middle.  As he went up to bat I felt extremely nervous, almost like I was having to tell my boss I was pregnant (again.)  Once he was at bat, he stood there in a Shaggy stance. This is what I call someone who pushes their hips forward slouches and looks like Scooby- doo's companion.  The guy loading the machine actually calls what it is going to be. Here is a ball, here is a strike, to me that takes away an important learning opportunity to judge whether a ball is good enough to hit, but that may just be me. I regress.
There is Parker, looking more like a spectator than a player and we are on strike number 2. As the ball is propelling to Parker I say a little prayer. "Please God, let him hit the ball..please, please, please"  Of course, God has time for these prayers, what with earthquakes, genocide and war going on. STRIKE 3. Ugh. This is where a pain shoots through my gut.  Although Parker's shaggy stance would give the impression he was not ready, inside he really wanted to hit the ball. Watching him walk back to the dug out shameful and disappointed is truly heartbreaking. Especially for a mom. I go around to the dug out and tell him he made a good effort and was so close, but he isn't buying it, he looks at me through his eyes filling with tears and speaking through teeth and says.. " this is why I don't like baseball".  He is trying just as hard as I am to not cry. It may sound dramatic, but watching your child hurt and not being able to fix it, is torture.
I was a freakishly good athlete as a kid. Anything I tried I did well.  It came very easy to me, Tennis, softball, soccer, swimming, golf, basketball, you name it.  What I lacked in book smarts, I made up with field smarts.   That is why it does not make any sense to me why it hasn't presented itself in my boys....yet.   I guess I could blame Don, that seems like the easy thing to do, but even  he was a gifted athlete (not as good as me, but that is an argument Don and I will never resolve)
Once I had the chance, I called Don. In a low serious voice I asked him WTF is going on. He has been to all Parker's games and failed to mention his inability to hit the ball.  I wish I would have had some warning.  I told him he is neglecting his son and needs to take him to the batting cage stat. * and to think, Don thinks I over react?   He said he was planning on it, but that Parker had improved the last game.  Improvement from what? Was he facing the wrong way and now he is facing forward and there for, its an improvement?  He could sense my inner turmoil and his excuse was that my very presence was causing Parker to Babydown. That is his term ( made up by Don) which means that the boys revert to mama's boys when I am around.  Much to the same way I dumb it down for my boss. It works for me, and clearly it was working for Parker. When he didn't get a hit I run to his aid with encouragement and he gives me his big brown puppy dog eyes and I want to take him to my breast and nurse him. Just kidding, but I do want to hug him and let him know that I love him. But maybe Don is on to something. I decide no more Mama bear. Rather than standing right behind him sounding like Jack Handy while he bat, I will sit with all the other parents.  But before I do, I call him out of the dug out and show him the proper stance while he is at bat. Well, if he wasn't embarrassed before, he certainly was now.
I returned to my place on the bleachers and watched. He is great on the field, I actually enjoyed myself and wondered if anyone noticed I was only cheering for him. But I had to, his coached are deadbeat coaches.  Well, maybe not dead beat, but you would think between the 4 of them they could give better instruction other than, " come on now son, hit the ball!"  His head coach has a cigarette behind his ear, no joke.  Maybe that is what they need rather than a hovermom. That was until I heard one of them criticizing his own son in the outfield, and loud enough so everyone could hear. That is when it hit me.   I'm really just as bad as they are, but more on an emotional level.  What it comes down to is that you just want your kid to do well.  My self esteem was elevated as a child because I was the best at something.  But who is to say that it needs to be sports. Is it because he is a boy and I want him to fit in and be liked, and I liked athletic boys in school, so that must mean that only athletic boys are well liked?  Sounds dumb.  Most of the jocks I found attractive in high school can be found on the corner bar reliving the good old days, and that isn't attractive at all.
After the game Parker came running to me to give me a hug. I told him that I was proud of him and by the time we reached the snack stand, any disappointment in not getting a hit was comforted by a big box of popcorn.  Emotional eating, that is one thing I know he inherited from me, and let me tell you, he is damn good at it.

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