I love being a mom of boys. I like outdoor activities and sports (well, some sports) and weird bodily functions. Thinking ahead, I’d much rather spend an afternoon at the baseball field than at a dance recital. (I’m not trying to be sexist. I know that girls can do and appreciate all of these things, too. All the same, in our 3.5 short years of having boys, we’ve seen that some stereotypes are rather accurate. I’m happy to have my house more overrun with construction vehicles than dolls.)
There are parent stereotypes, too. One that I’m particularly interested in is the animal known as a sports parent. They are somewhat rabid, intense, high energy, and always dressed in the team colors. Is this a stereotype for a reason? What does the world of sports parents really look like? And would I make a good sports parent? There’s only one way to find out. At the ripe old age of three, our firstborn Sawyer was enrolled in his first season of T-ball.
Pre-season: Anticipation is high. Family trip to Academy Sports to buy glove. Sawyer is excited and sleeps with his new ball and glove the night before the first practice/game. We can do this. We are sports parents.
Game One: We arrive early. Sawyer is dressed in shorts, a green baseball hat, and a blue T-shirt with a baseball pic and the caption, “I’m a great catch.” (Only true in the metaphorical sense.) Several kids and parents are there already. Many of the kids are wearing authentic baseball pants.The coach has their red “Phillies” uniforms ready. We realize that we hadn’t adequately prepped our slow transitioner for this. He refuses to put on the shirt or change hats and is therefore the only kid on the team not in uniform. Doesn’t faze him. At least he’s out there, right? You be you, kid. We also realize that he doesn’t know what to do once he hits the ball. I mention something to this effect out loud and one of the dads quickly pipes in, “Do you have bases at home? You can get them at Walmart, you know.” Okay, sports dad. Sorry my kid is hurting your 3-year-old’s chances of winning games. All in all, a fun outing and Sawyer seemed to enjoy himself.
Game Two: rained out. I was particularly disappointed about this because we had family visiting who could have watched the baby while my husband and I brought Sawyer to his game. Also, we’ve been practicing wearing his baseball hat and uniform.
Game Three: I had to work, so my husband brought both boys to Sawyer’s game. According to him, Sawyer spent most of the game playing in the dirt, oblivious to the game around him, while the baby schmoozed the crowd and stole phones. It’s starting to get hot, even in the evenings, and there’s little shade. Matt brings his camelback-style water backpack, and Sawyer periodically trots over and drinks from it through the fence like a hamster.
Game Four: Picture Day! Let’s talk about this for a minute, mkay? He may be just a three-year-old, but we’ve already paid $90 for the six-game season, $10 for the glove, and now picture packages that start at $18??? What can we expect when we have two boys in high school sports? We weren’t even sure that he’d even agree to pose for a picture. To our amazement, the photographer was even able to coax out a smile! He did refuse to stand for the team photo, but we hadn’t planned to buy that one anyway. Granted, this was an optional cost, but c’mon– look at this adorable baseball card. When he’s a starting pitcher for the Red Sox someday, we’ll have his original rookie card. We came, saw, got the picture, but the rest of the night was pretty much a bust. Sawyer alternated between saying, “I don’t want to play baseball!,” to digging in the dirt, to routinely asking, “Is it time to go home yet?”
Game Five: Rained out. Really, Texas? You rain 3.5 days out of the year and choose our game nights. These skipped weeks aren’t helping Sawyer get into the swing of going to baseball. Mind you, I’m not worried about his baseball skills or lack of, I just want him to socialize a little and enjoy going.
Game Six: We are in full revolt mode at this point. “I don’t want to wear my baseball uniform!” “I don’t want to play baseball!” ‘I don’t like those kids!” “I want to stay home!” It takes a good 20 minutes of cajoling to get him out onto the field. The entirety of the game consisted of him dragging his feet over to us every 10 minutes or so saying, “Is it time to go home yet?” It’s not a picnic for us either, kid. Our dialogue behind his back goes something like, “Why are we doing this anyway?” “This would be a lot more fun if we weren’t dragging him there by the ears.” “This is a whole lot of work for all of these tears.” But then, there’s the whole Finish what you start idea and Learn a little bit about being a teamplayer. I’m just glad he doesn’t get hit with a ball while he’s head-down, picking daisies.
Make-up Game #1: We caved. We skipped it. It wasn’t as a direct result of his pleading to stay home. Rather, we just weren’t feeling it that day and let the fact quietly slide that it was a baseball day. He never knew.
Make-up Game #2: My husband opted to stay home with the baby, as it was threatening rain yet again (seriously, Texas?). I was determined to take Sawyer, since this was to be the last game, regardless of the weather. Once again, Sawyer didn’t want to put on his uniform, didn’t want to go, but I bribed him with end-of-season ice cream. By the time we got there, a cold front had moved in. It was FREEZING, and the wind was at near hurricane force. We toughed it out for 20 minutes or so, until the coach showed up, made a couple of calls, and officially cancelled the game due to weather. And that’s it. Guess how the three-year-old responded? “I don’t want to go!” “We didn’t get to play!” “Why can’t we play baseball tonight?” Oh, the dichotomy of toddlerhood.
Of course, we still celebrated a “successful” season with ice cream. 🙂
Two months later: As I’m writing this, I ask Sawyer a few questions:
“Sawyer, I’m going to write about your baseball season for my blog.”
“Why are you going to do that?”
(Matt, aside, “Yes, why? Can’t we just forget about it?”)
“Because people want to hear about it. What would you like to say about your baseball games?”
“I LOVE baseball!”
“What do you love about it?”
“I love seeing my friends. I love throwing the baseball. I hit the ball and I run around the bases!”
“Would you like playing baseball again?”
“Yes! I really love baseball.”
And there, friends, you see the immature brain at work. I’m not an expert in child development, but I’m thinking that it takes quite a bit of trauma to have an unhappy childhood. We whitewash our memories and carry the good with us. I’m happy to let him think that he enjoyed every minute of his inaugural sports season. Also, go easy on yourselves as parents when events don’t go as planned. Your kids will remember the good and love you more for the experiences.
As for us? Time will tell, but at this point, I am not a “sports parent.” I’m content with letting my kid be the weird one who draws in the dirt while the action goes on around him. Let his coach deal with that. There’s a lot of waiting in baseball. If you’re three years old and don’t really know what you’re waiting for, I can imagine that it would be pretty boring and pointless. Maybe we’ll try soccer next year….
Do you have sports stories to tell? Comment below!