I hope you have a son who acts just like you when you grow up.
I can not tell you how many times I heard this from my mother when I was a teenager. Little did I know she actually had the power to speak directly with God to make it happen.Getting HitI was destined to be great. It was my dream. Nothing could stop me, that is until I caught a baseball in my chest off the bat of Patrick Sullivan. I remember the pain that shot through my little body. I had never felt that type of pain in my seven years of life. I struggled to breathe, and despite the feeling that my chest had collapsed, I picked up the ball and threw it to first base half-hearted. Coaches ran to my side to make sure I was OK. I almost cried. Tears welled up in my eyes and my bottom lip started to quiver. Taking deep breaths I attempted to gain my composure. Soon the pain of that baseball bouncing off my chest would leave my body and take with it my dream of ever becoming a big league star.I played baseball the following season, but the pitches were faster, and balls hit harder and I feared more than anything, of getting hit again. It wasn't long after that I hung up my cleats for a while. I was no longer confident.Confidence is KeyConfidence is hard for me to teach my son. Maybe because of my own insecurities, both growing up and now, but I think it's important. Self confident people are more likely to stand up for what they believe in. They're more likely to take risks to achieve goals, and not get stuck in a comfort zone fearing failure.
Some thirty years later I stand on a dusty baseball diamond and see a little boy who lacks confidence, and fears my same pain. My mothers' wish had come true, although I don't believe this is what she had in mind. He too caught one in the chest a few weeks ago and has been scared every since. He continues to play the game but struggles with confidence now that the pitches are faster and hits are harder, and I hate this for him.
It's For the KidsI'm beginning to wonder if youth sports are really for the kids as they say. Or were they created for overbearing parents? I want my son to play and excel at sports I won't lie. I want to see the smirk on his face as he runs down the court after scoring a basket, or watch his eyes light up at the crack of his bat. I want these things for him. Because he gets joy from them, and they build his confidence. But, it's also because he's my son and I want him to be as great as I thought I could have been. I want him to conquer my fears.
I almost cried
It's hard to see the ones we care so much about hurt. Sitting in an empty dugout I have to tell him he won't be playing in this game. Not because he's defiant, a bad teammate or doesn't listen to his coaches. Not because he's late or misses practice or broke team rules. No, it's because he lacks the confidence to be great. Because the kids in front of him are playing better right now and only so many kids can play at a time. I kneel down and speak only to him. My eyes meet his, and I speak in a low voice so that only he can hear me. I know it's going to hurt just as much, if not more, than when that ball hit him. Upon hearing the news I see his eyes well up with tears and his bottom lip starts to quiver as he looks down to the ground. I almost cried. I explain to him that we have more kids than positions available and sometimes we have to sit the bench. He struggles to understand the reasoning and mumbles under his breath about how it's not fair. He fights back tears. I fight back tears.
There's no Crying in Baseball
Tom Hanks said in the movie A League of Their Own, that there's no crying in baseball. But try telling that to a parent who has to watch their child strike out, or not get to play, or gets hurt during a game. At the end of the day I get that it's just baseball, and there will be many more heartaches down the road. I get that there are far more bigger problems in the world. But he's my boy and he's destined for greatness.