Sunday, June 12, 2011

play ball

Yes, we make choices on the activities our kids are engaged in.  Yes, there are too many for many a reason (time, money, etc).  But, with that said, I am humbled by all that I have learned about myself and kids through this part of our journey.

We are at the end of the baseball season.  Even though this is our third season, I am still learning.  The start of this season in particular began with tears.  I am second guessing our decisions, which is silly, since they are way in the past.    #1 doesn't like his picture to be taken, but values a good one when taken of an amazing play.  How am I supposed to accomplish that?  Neither kid likes to be endeared as "baby" which I still often call them.  They also don't like "woohoo" in a motherly pitch to be hollered.

We decided that #1 & #2 would tryout for the leagues above them.  Our intent was not for them to play in the tougher leagues, but to have the experience of the tryout process.  Based on last year's league structure, very few kids actually "played up".  Well, that was not the situation this year.  We got our team assignments and unfortunately, hubby was out of town.  Neither kid made it into the higher leagues.  I was not surprised, until I heard that most of my guys' peers did make it.  So, this year's league was a different animal.  I had misjudged the dynamics.  It turns out that with the SF Giants winning the World Series, everyone decided to play ball.  This created a situation where lots of players needed to be pushed up into the higher leagues.  I had just created the first of many disappointments with this process for my kids.  In their eyes, they had failed where so many had succeeded.

#2 is uber-competitave.  She plays in the boys' league.  Our original agreed upon purpose was not to make it.  She agreed but then the time came and she cried and protested.  This was several days after we heard about #1's team placement.  Each hour and day in between she would ask if I received her placement notice.  Those were tough "no's".  The anticipation created more tension.  More and more peers had "made it" until she felt she was the only one in her grade who had not.  She then set a condition saying, "If I don't make it, I'm not playing".

#1 heard his team placement right away.  He was to be an older fish in a younger pond.  The good news was he had friends and peers he knew on his team.  Last year he did not know anyone on his team.  So, this year, it was meaningful to have friends.  He said he wouldn't play.  The team he was drafted on was a different story.  Last year this particular team did not have the best behavior when they played his team.  It was on his list of teams he did not want to play on.  The thing is, no one asks who you want to be with or which team you want to play on.  Even though our intent was to not make the higher league, other coaches did not know this.  I did not know that the lower league would not be present or know his stats because he was at the higher tryouts.  In retrospect, this was probably a mistake.  Should he have done both tryouts?  Was this an option?  I didn't have the answers then or even now for that matter, but knew the stress we were dealing with as a result of the choices.

What did we do?  We reacted, and maybe overreacted.  We cried, we talked and we made decisions at the parental level.  In retrospect, we would have approached the pre-season differently.  That being said, we survived and quite well I might say.

We told #2 that if she chose to not play this year, she would not be allowed to play next year.  This was an opportunity to be a leader and improve her skills.  One of the things we did right was to ask that she not be on a team with younger kids from her school.  This is because the youngers were #3's peers and friends.  That would have exacerbated the situation for sure.  I am confident that this was good forethought on our part.  It turns out she was not the only one her grade who was in her league.  It also turned out that her entire team from last year, except for her, was drafted into the higher league by her coach from last year.  This team, that had drafted her buddies, won 1 game this year.  They had a tough season.  The team she was on touted her as their best fielder.  They won all or almost all (depending on who you ask) of their games (even though score is technically not kept).  I am so thankful that she did not make the higher league.  I am thankful she swallowed her pride and stuck with it.  As amazing #2 is at almost everything she does, it is okay to not be the top of something and to take a ride to see what will happen.  I am thankful for the situations we went through on this journey to have had the experience we did.  She still wants to be a Major League ball player and this means her confidence is intact.  She made new friends and received good coaching at all levels.  She could also focus on her tae kwon do black-belt.  Not too shabby, if I do say so myself.

We explored our options for #1's situation.  Even dad supported him in his impulse to not play.  I couldn't imagine him not playing when all of his friends were ready to.  His choices were to play on a team he didn't want to be on, ask to be traded or to not play.  The risk in being traded would be that he might end up on a team where he had no friends.  As good and experience last year's season turned out to be, I hadn't realized how stressful it was to not have friends on his team.  Sure, he ended the season with friends, but how could I have missed the stress he carried from it?  I e-mailed and talked with his coach discussing our concerns.  In the end #1 chose to stick with the known quantity.  We would have supported him with any of his choices (obviously).

Was playing baseball supposed to be this hard?  His season had it's ups and downs and so did his attitude.  In the end, his team had a decent playoff and a weak season prior to that.  If you read my tae kwon do post, you'd know that attitude is an issue that permeates all facets of #1's life.  I'm glad he knows what winning in this season feels like.  He said he wouldn't trade the weak season for the great playoffs.  Hopefully this learning of persistence can payoff will go with him in his future journeys.  I am still waiting for the coach and teacher that can unlock his potential.  For now, I'm happy he's happy and we're maintaining.  I've learned he doesn't need me to tell him to get ready.  He may not look ready, but it is not my job, nor does it motivate him to have me hollering "get ready" or "pay attention".  When the ball is hit to him, he will do what he is capable of doing without my words.  What he really wants is for me to see him do good.  Whenever there is a good play, after the game, he'll ask "did you see that?"  So, instead of worrying about things that are his coaches' jobs, I should just pay attention and enjoy the ride.

Going forward we will continue to learn these lessons of patience and persistence.  They are not easy, but I suppose they are necessary.  It feels good to cheer your kids on and to see them overcome stressful situations.  It feels good to learn together as a family.  The examples #1 and #2 worked through were great lessons for the youngers to learn from (if they were paying attention).  If they missed the lesson, mom and dad will be there to remind them with love, understanding and probably a few tissues for the tears.  Stay tuned, we're heading into the unchartered territory of competitive soccer for #2 and #3....

1 comment:

  1. Even in the first grade league, I had such a hard time not yelling to pay attention (or stop twirling, or playing in the dirt, or wearing your glove like a hat...). but that's the coach's job, not mine. He finished the season still liking baseball, and that s enough for now.