I was fascinated by something that happened this past week, but let me back up and give you the full story so it makes sense as to why…
I have a 4 year old that started tee ball. In the first practice of the season he couldn’t grab the concept of the game. Sure, he wanted to hit off the tee, but then wanted to drop the bat and instead of running to first, he ran out to the field and tried to get the ball and throw it to first, almost as if he wanted to get himself out.
Now granted, it’s tee-ball and he’s 4 and it was funny. If you know anything about tee ball, you know it’s a truly chaotic situation with half the kids uninterested and the other half running after the ball in packs. We, the parents need to break them out of that habit. That's our job. Now I’ve been a coach for tee ball twice before and going back is absolute torture. It’s an hour in the week that I can’t get back. But for the sake of all my kids having their parents coach them, my wife and I stepped up to the plate again. Then we come home shell shocked and have a bottle of wine to calm the nerves. I kid… we’re not shell shocked... I kid again.
After my son's tantrum, we went home. He was sad because he didn’t “hit the ball good.” He was mad because he “didn’t get the ball.” He was just downright pissed. We tried reasoning with him, but after a while, we just left him at the swing set in our yard and sat on the patio.
He sulked for a good 20 minutes, but after a while, he stood up, walked over the the tee in my yard and put a wiffle ball on it. He stood where he was supposed to and he hit the ball. He walked out to the hit ball, picked it up and walked back to the tee. He did hit it again. And then he did it again, and again. He did it around 20 times, never saying a word and all by himself. It made me proud.
The next day we had a makeup game. We showed up and my son listened. We were in the field this time. I made a big circle around him. “You stay in this circle. If the ball isn’t near you, you stay here. If it’s close to you, you should try and grab it and throw it to first!” He stood in the circle. He looked like he was protecting his turf or something, but he did it anyway. A few balls went to the infield and they weren’t anywhere near him. He stood his ground… he never moved. Then, the ball came his way. He put his mitt down and scooped it up the way a 4 year old would. He awkwardly threw to first and as it left the air and rolled another 5 feet to first, it was clear, the fundamentals were there… he did it.
When he put his helmet on, he was ready. This time there was no crying of “when am I getting up.” He waited in line and when it was his turn, he stood in the box and literally cranked the baseball. As his hands went around he stood there, stunned, almost like a showboat move, watching the pack of kids scurry for it.
“RUN TO FIRST!” the coach yelled. He did. He actually did it. Then to second and then to third the way tee-ball teams do it. One base at a time, teaching the fundamentals. When he scored he achieved something big. He probably doesn’t even realize it, but he did.
Why am I telling you this? Because it makes you think. This is a 4 year old in a stripped down version of life. This is a kid who needed to figure it out on his own, and took in the little information we provided for him about the “dos and don’ts “ of little league. This is a kid that was determined. In the end, he succeeded. If you don’t see the big picture here, you need to read this again. In the end, I don’t care if these little leaguers win any games in their lifetime. If they are determined, if they build some confidence in whatever activity they're doing… and if they succeed doing it, hey… that’s the goal. It means they already won.
Good job kiddo. You made dad proud.
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