I’m tentatively setting foot back on my blog, after having neglected it for over a month. It's a ghost town with tumbleweeds blowing across it, and I am not even sure if anyone is still here. But I have a perfectly justifiable reason for my absence this spring.
My husband and I are newbies at the kids-in-sports thing, but for those of you who are not, you know that it can be consuming, especially if you are toting more than one child to practices and games every night.
So, here are the top 10 observations I have made about Little League.
10. Heads up. Kids swing the bat at the plate and unintentionally (sometimes intentionally) let it go flying wherever it may land. They’ll swing it playfully both inside the dugout and outside the field. I saw one mom come this close to getting nailed on the head, just last week. And if that’s not enough, foul balls frequently get hit backwards over the fence and outside the field, over by the concession stand. Ordering nachos has never been so treacherous.
9. Make sure your kid has easy access to sunflower seeds. We once saw a kindergartener trying to get from third base to home with his hand in his back pocket as he ran, which made for a limping, awkward kind of run. Everyone in the stands was puzzled, until the kid touched home plate and pulled a sunflower seed, obviously priority number one, out of his back pocket to shove in his mouth.
8. Crock pots are your best friends. If you get home at 3 and you have to be at a field in another town at 5 only to return by 7:30 or 8, you better have some tasty slop simmering in the slow-cooker. It’s either that, or Jack’s or Subway.
7. Don’t fight over the ball, kids. It never fails. The ball is hit, and a minimum of 3 little outfielders all dive in together to scrap for it. In their minds, forget all this, “We’re on the same team!” talk. That ball is up for grabs, and they’ll be darned if one of their teammates gets to it first.
6. Daddies help. My daughter was terrified at first of the ball rolling her way in the outfield. What to do? So her dad stepped in as a helper coach – (that's the guy who stands in the outfield and says, “Throw it to second!”) It gave her the confidence she needed. My grandfather played baseball as a young man, and my mom says that when she played softball as a little girl, her dad stepped in for her, too. Daddies are good for stuff like that.
5. Parents, you need to chill. There is nothing cool about an adult coming out of the stands and walking on to the field to chew out the umpire in front of the whole world. There is nothing cool about screaming at your kid that they know better than to make a mistake like that. Shouldn’t adults know better as well? These are kids, and they are playing for fun. Stop living vicariously through them, and for the sake of Pete, stop taking it so seriously.
4. Keep unsolicited advice to yourself. At my son’s first game ever, when his foot missed third base, someone sitting next to me told me that we needed to “work with him” on making sure he touches the base when he runs. Oh, thankyoueversomuch for that.
3. Don’t keep score publicly. It’s much better if the parents don’t really know what is going on, score-wise. Keeping us in the dark is for the best. Winning is fun, but winning should not be preached to the exclusion of everything else, not at this age.
2. Snacks are of paramount importance. The first question you’ll be asked at the end is not, “Did we win?” It’s, “Who brought snacks?” Little Debbies and Capri Suns are the sugary fuel that keep these teams inspired.
1. You can’t beat Americana. Baseball is unashamedly American. Watching a field full of kids in their uniforms and hearing the clink of the bat on a cool spring evening is just so – right. It feels nostalgic, though I never played when I was a child and have never even watched my kids play until now. But I do know the impact of the sport on our country, and I respect it. My grandfather would be so proud of his great-grandchildren now.