I didn't play any organized sports as a child or teenager, and I am so very happy for both my children that they are having the opportunity to do so. I think it is a great experience, for physical strength, to learn the dynamic of being part of a team, good sportsmanship, and how to lose gracefully.
I am glad for my 9 year old boy child, and for my 7 year old girl child. And, being a female myself, I find that I am especially glad for my girl child, because it is such an amazing experience to learn to work with her body on the field, to learn the master a skill, to learn how to handle competitiveness with grace. I love hearing her sing the songs with her fellow softball players, ages 7 to 10. Songs of encouragement for their fellow players up to bat, mixed with fun happy sillyness, and a dash of razzing of their opponents.
I just wish sports didn't hafta hurt.
In one of my first posts on this blog, I talked about me trying to handle my young son's first experiences playing in Little League. How he had gotten hit by the ball, and had cried, and had then, as I saw other little boys do, developed the habit of backing away from the ball when up to bat.
And now he's 9, and my worry continues. But, like a lot of things I find in parenthood, the farther I go along, the more experiences I have under my belt, the more times my children end up being fine in the end, I calm down more.
Last week my son was pitching, the batter hit the ball, it bounced and hit my son in the face. I leapt from my seat to the fence in one swoop. My husband is the coach, and he was on the mound checking on my son, who was crouched and crying. I turned to a mom and said "I am proud I am not going out on the field right now!" And she replied "I would already be out there." But I knew that my husband was right there, and here came my son to the dugout, holding his cheek. A mom from the other team, a stranger, instantly got an ice bag from the snack stand and brought it to us. Fortunately he was okay. The ball hit his cheek. The next day he had scratches in the shape of the seam of the baseball.
When I saw the ball hit him, and him crouch down in pain, I did not know if it had hit his eye. I did not know if this would be a minor injury, or if we would be rushing to the hospital. And the reason my heart jumps is because of the news story of the baseball player boy last year whose heart stopped. The boy in Arizona who was hit in the chest by a ball and died. Right there. Someone's son. A mother's son. Upon hearing this story, when my own son was 8 and starting Little League, I talked with my husband about this fatality. I told him other moms had started having their sons wear chest protectors? Should we do this? He reminded me we can not wrap our son in bubble wrap. He reminded me that he played baseball himself as a young boy, in Little League, in the streets with friends, and he was not fatally injured.
As I flew through air to watch result of injury, these are the worries that fly through my mind, without my even trying to think them.
I hear people talk about being "control freaks." And I think it is the exact opposite for me in parenthood. I am having to learn that I do not have control. I can do everything in my power to make sure my children are safe, but there are so many things out of my power that can injury them. And maybe fatally.
And I am learning that this is life. I am learning I must accept this. I am learning that I should not forbid my son from climbing a tree, because life is for experiencing, not for being wrapped in bubble wrap.
Will it surprise you at all that whiskey is now my new friend?