Number 3, as you know, loves baseball.
He’s playing on the travel team this year, and he’s the youngest kid on the team.
He wasn’t able to play in the kid-pitch league like the rest of the kids in the spring, so he’s a season behind everyone else.
As a result, he doesn’t get the playing time that a lot of the other kids get in the games, and he’s always last in the lineup.
He’s been in a little bit of a slump, and he’s taken a pretty big hit in the confidence department.
I have mixed emotions about it.
On one hand, I feel bad for him.
Bad that he doesn’t get more playing time.
Bad that the emphasis is on winning, and not on all the kids getting equal experience on the field.
But on the other hand, it isn’t rec league baseball.
I know he has to earn his spot.
And that is real life.
I wish he didn’t have to learn that at 9 years old.
But I guess he does.
So I’ve been trying to help him figure this out, while maintaining his love of the game.
To guide him.
Push him when needed without being overbearing.
I’ve told him that most of all, he needs to keep trying, and he needs to keep practicing.
Practice the things he is good at, and practice the things he’s not so good at even more.
He’s been listening.
Every day he begs anyone to throw him fly balls and to practice pitching with him.
Every. single. day.
And he practices.
And he practices.
He goes to the games and plays about three innings in the field.
“Mom, I always play in the outfield,” he said to me last week.
It’s true. He usually does.
“That’s okay,” I tell him.
“But nobody ever hits the ball to me,” he replied back.
He’s right on that, too.
At least he was.
Until last night.
Last night he was out in right field.
It was the last inning of the game.
Our team was winning by quite a bit.
A kid on the other team smacked a ball out to right field.
I stood up.
I closed one eye.
I held my breath.
I watched, apprehensively, out of my open eye.
And he caught it.
And a big fucking smile.
I know it was only one catch of one fly ball.
But what a lesson Number 3 learned.
I asked him in the car on the drive home if he was nervous when that ball was coming toward him.
“Nope,” he said.
“I knew I was going to catch it,” he said with another big smile.
And then the tears really started.
My son has confidence, and I helped him get it.
I gulped down the tears and was thankful for the sunglasses I had on.
“Mom, it was a pretty good catch,” he said to me.
“Yes, it was,” I told him.
“It would have been cooler if it was the game-winning one,” he added.
No, it wasn’t the game-winning catch yesterday.
But someday, it will be.
And when it is, I’ll be right there by the fence, watching,
and screaming ,
and probably swearing,
for my hardworking, persistent, and confident boy.
And then I’ll come home and I’ll tell the whole world all about it.
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