Praise be to all that is holy, my child’s little league season is finally over. Only a baseball parent can understand the internal struggle one battles between love and totally-over-it when your child is suiting up for his fourth game in 24 hours. Never does the sun beat down harder on your neck, never do the concession stand chicken sandwiches taste so dry as when telling your child “You got it, buddy! We’re gonna win this one!”
The hot wind whips dirt up around your head and directly into your eye as you squint through the gritty tears, pat your kid on the helmet and say,”I love you!” And you mean it! You mean it all!
But you also definitely mean something else. Something you, as the parent, can’t ever say aloud because it will come off as harsh, uncaring and selfish. It’s the little unspoken internal utterance that runs through the mind of every parent when a kid starts a new game of a tournament, shooting like a tiny little arrow of guilt right to the heart.
But not everyone is bound to the silence. There are advocates out there who can speak these truths for us. We have voices, parents. That’s what little brothers are for!
“I hope they lose so we can go home, Mama. It’s too hot, dang.”
“I’m bored and ran out of pickle money. Can we go home now?”
“Where are we? What town is this? Is there a Taco Bell?”
“Baseball is boring so they make us play it in all these boring places. Am I right?”
“Hey…Why was there a Bulldog section in that grocery store?…And also a Bulldog section in this gas station?….wait….What town is this?!…WHY ARE WE IN THIS TOWN?!”
“I need food.”
“Gimme a purple Gatorade, woman. I’m dying.”
And, lest we forget, the mother of all little-siblings-at-a-baseball-game-questions: “Can I play a game on your phone?” To which you answer, “No, go live life! Watch the game or look around at the pretty trees or play with that little girl over there, What’s-Her-Name.” And you send them off so you can get back to playing that game on your phone.
I am thankful there is a little child next to me at every game who will say for me what we are all collectively thinking but who I can apathetically scold for saying such things. A scolding which, in turn, affects the child none and makes me look like a more devoted baseball parent. It’s a win/win which is the most winning usually happening at some of these tournaments.
But mostly I’m very proud of my oldest son who worked much harder than either me or his little brother this season, with never a complaint. He never cared that the tournament was too far away or that it was too hot outside. If the sun was in his eyes, he dealt with it. If he was thirsty, he drank the Gatorade he packed for himself in his bag. I think one time in three days he asked me for a Snickers bar and I passed it to him through the chain link fence of the dugout. All he wanted to do was play baseball.
And I know he reads my column. So, good season, Buddy. We are proud of you! And a good season to all the baseball players, baseball players’ parents, and baseball players’ little siblings. A round of cold pickles and purple Gatorades for all. Cheers!