Sawyer started his first season of Little League this spring.
It's not cheap, people. They get you at registration. Then they start in with the fundraisers. And they're not voluntary.
So you'd think the least the child could do was, you know, enjoy playing.
He said he was nervous, that he didn't know how to play as we got ready for his first practice. I explained that that's why they have practice: so they can all learn.
Then it was that he'd rather be home running in the street with the neighborhood kids, whacking each other with light sabers or swords or sticks or whatever they can find.
He did okay in the first game, only slumping over when he had to play catcher and wear all the equipment (because it huurrrt).
He apparently complained all through Wednesday's practice that his arm hurt, he was tiiiiired, etc. And yet, when he got home, he leapt out of the car and ran up the street to play.
This morning? He didn't want to go to baseball. Oh no. He wanted to DRAW.
Now, I don't expect him to be the next Albert Pujols or Derek Jeter. I do, however, want him to have a positive attitude and try his best.
So that's when I have to channel my inner Little League Mom (you might be familiar with its close cousins, Stage Mother and Pageant Mom, but not to be confused with Soccer Mom, which involves bad jeans and a minivan).
I got right in his face and told him that he made a commitment to his team and he WAS going - NOW! as fat tears rolled down his cheeks. Then off he went to the field with David.
He was playing third base when I got there with Sage and X. And he made a play! I whooped! I clapped! I shouted GREAT JOB!
Because that's what being a Little League Mom is to me: I go crazy whenever he hustles. I don't care if he gets a hit or if his throw sails over the first baseman's head. I bite my tongue when he lollygags to first base - although, if you put a cheeseburger on a string and hung it over the base, I bet he'd break land speed records. Just sayin'.
See, when I first started covering sports for a newspaper, I was on the bottom rung: I had to cover high school sports. And boy did I learn what I never wanted to do if I had kids someday. I saw parents shout profanity at opposing players and call them fat or ugly or whatever. One time I was covering a girls soccer state tournament game and one of the players, as she ran down the field in the middle of the game, yelled to her coach "Get him out of here!" while pointing at her father on the sidelines.
I've seen drunk parents, belligerent parents, drill sergeant parents.
I vowed never to humiliate my child that way.
And so, I keep it all positive. Even when I want him to stop picking his nose out in center field (pick a good one! Atta boy!).
Sometimes it's tough for me to understand how he can be so uninspired. When I was his age? I would've LOVED to have had the chance to try out different sports. But my mother didn't want to drive. It's a big reason why I always try to get my kids involved in whatever they ask.
Sawyer just doesn't have that burning desire to be out there. I know he's only 6, and maybe that will come. I sure hope so. I think sports are great for kids, to teach them how to be part of a team, to win AND lose and to get some good exercise.
I guess I'd hoped he'd love baseball the way I do. I spent most of my career around it, and believe me when I tell you that you REALLY have to like the game to be a beat writer covering a Major League team.
Sawyer was excited when we went to Spring Training last weekend and he got to meet Angels Manager Mike Scioscia - especially when Mike moved the gate and tons of fans to let us through, and then posed for a picture with us. (Mike had to bribe Sage with the fungo bat to get her in the picture.)
And to give you an idea of what the fans look like from inside the fence..
No one asked for our autographs. Surprisingly.
Anyway. I briefly chatted with Sawyer's coach today between innings about Sawyer's lack of enthusiasm. And then before his final at-bat, I simply told Sawyer to make it his best one.
He actually RAN to the batters box. He hit the ball hard enough that it got through the infield on one bounce and raced to first! He was having fun. There was even a smile!
And then - and then! Sawyer was awarded the game ball.
I'm sure the coach (who is wonderful and who was also Sawyer's AYSO coach in the fall) wanted to light a little fire. Judging by how excited Sawyer was about the whole thing, I'd say he succeeded.