Sunday, June 24, 2007

Tee Ball, Sportsmanship training for everyone.

Keep your MLB, go ahead and watch the Minors, play softball if you must...... nothing beats Tee Ball. When my boys were young, Tee Ball was a new thing and they didn't play. I got to help coach Little League for my oldest (the youngest wasn't interested), and I learned many disturbing things about adults. We, as coaches, strove to teach the kids teamwork, sportsmanship and that having fun is what baseball is all about. We were mostly successful during practices. Then, the games started. There was name-calling, jeering, belittling, anger, and the occasional physical altercation..... and all of this among the parents attending the game. I saw father's of sons that I had known for years, father's who doted on their boys and always had nothing but praise for them any other time turn into hecklers and nay-sayers to their own sons on the field. It was sad to watch the embarrassment in these boys as what should have been a fun day of baseball invariably turned into an agonizing chore of falling short of expectations and disappointing their real-life heroes. Don't get me wrong, there were some good days, and not every parent acted this way but believe me, it only takes a few to ruin the day. What we really needed was Little League practice for parents teaching teamwork, sportsmanship and how to have a good time.

Fast-forward to present day. My oldest granddaughter joined Tee Ball. I have to say, this game brings out the best in all of us. Think about it... there is one set of bleachers at the Tee Ball diamond. Both sides sit together, cheering on ALL of the kids on both teams. Everyone gets to bat every inning, everyone takes all of the bases and everyone,,, EVERYONE has a good time. In one particular game we had to pause for a train-delay; my granddaughter, playing "pitcher" began jumping up and down, pointing and yelling "TRAIN COMING, TRAIN COMING" (the tracks run ride beside the diamond). The coaches stopped the game and every player turned to watch the train go by, jumping up and down with excitement while the engineer tapped the horn as he went by. Then, back to the game; no complaints, no eye rolls. How cool is that? At the end of the game, everyone congratulates everyone on a game well played, parents praise other parents' children, regardless of team.

I look forward to the time real Little League rolls around for her. If she decides to play, it is my hope that all of the goodwill learned by the kids AND the parents at Tee Ball level moves with them all to the ball field. Seems that training I was talking about is taking place after all, huh?

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Old Days vs New Days

Sometimes when I'm thinking about nothing, everything comes to mind. I can remember listening for the ice cream truck just before bed in the fading light of a summer day, and I suddenly taste the Mint Chocolate Chip tucked away in the freezer twenty feet away. The first time I rode a two-wheeler melds with the first time my oldest rode one. The birth of my second son when I was 22 somehow collides with the death of my grandfather when I was 3, probably because they both looked so peaceful at rest. Every job I've ever had has just become one long employment, each position naturally flowing to the next until I reach present day. I'm also painfully aware that I don't have as much lung capacity as I did when I was younger. The good news is, it's more than I had two years ago, since I stepped into the modern age where medication was concerned. All this just serves to tell me how short a time my 46 years has been, and how fast it can go.

My grand daughters were here today, and I marvel at their energy. As I talk with friends who still have kids at home, some 10 years old and under, I'm reminded that the chaos I perceive in their homes isn't chaos when you're in the moment... it's life, and it can't be traded for all the gold in the world. I sometimes miss those times, as uncomfortable as I tend to get nowadays with too much activity around me (I call it sensory overload). Don't get me wrong, spoiling children and sending them home to their parents is a wonderful experience. But, there's something about tucking them in, knowing that your guidance and teaching took them through another day and has adding another piece of the puzzle that is their personality. It really is what we live for.

The point is, I guess, if you're in the moment, stop and breathe. Take it in and savor it. It passes quickly, believe me. Before you know it, everything runs together.