Being Mom

Hey, Coach, Could You at Least Try to Like My Kid?

This is it moms, the moment you’ve been waiting years for.  After coordinating schedules, countless hours of practicing in the backyard, not to mention budgeting endless amounts of money for equipment, uniforms, donations, game-day concessions, 50/50 money you’ll never see again, and weekly trips through the McDonald’s drive through, it’s time for signups once again.  Since you’ve already invested so much of your life into this sport, you don’t even feel like you have to ask, but you do anyway.

“Honey, do you want to play baseball again this year?”

And then…the showstopper…he said, “NO!”

“Excuse me?  Did I just hear that right?  No?  NO!  What do you mean, NO?!?” I replied in a frantic attempt to regain my understanding of gravity.

“Just no, mom, NO!” (He walked away and locked himself in the bathroom. — Good move, buddy, good move.)

OK, sisters, have you ever experienced this before?  How helpless is the feeling of knowing your child has invested so much time and energy into something and is just walking away from it?  Not only your child, but YOU personally have invested so much into this.  You have rearranged your life to help your child play, dance, sign, participate, etc.  You have developed friendships based on this path, and your child has the gall to just walk away from it without reason.

Are you freakin’ kidding me?!?

At this point, he was in the bathroom for about five minutes.  I let him come out peacefully.  I used all of my strength and management training to employ silence.  Ha!  He had 24 hours to come clean or we were in for a lively discussion.

1 Hour…Nothing

2 Hours…Nothing

3 Hours…Bedtime

13 Hours…Nothing

14 Hours…Nothing

15 Hours… “I HATE BASEBALL!”  

OK, now we were getting somewhere.  So, I quizzed him.  What was it that he didn’t like about baseball?  Was it the game?  Was it the level?  Was it a problem with his friends? Was it the commitment?  Was it? Was it? Was it?

“No, no, no.”  he replied.

“What is it?”

“I don’t want to say.”

“OK, though what is it?” (Yeah, I’m a bit pushy.  I’m from Jersey; it’s in my nature.)

“The coach doesn’t like me; he doesn’t want me on the team.”

~~~Legit, is there an issue with gravity these days?~~~

… I could not lie to him.  I could not tell him that it was not true.  Anyone, who was around this coach saw it (and I’m sure heard it, when we were out of earshot)…

So here’s the details:  Last season, my son was the subject of some struggles on the field; it was the first season in a long time that his father (or I) did not coach him.  (Due to some scheduling constraints, it just wasn’t possible.)  While my son was friends with almost all of the kids on the team, he never felt 100% part of the team.  When my son started to show signs of struggling, the coach reacted to him a condescending manner.  This was an ongoing issue and not just an isolated incident.

Fortunately, and in some cases unfortunately, I’ve been blessed with a sensitive child who understands the nuances of behavior.  So, he immediately understood that the coach was frustrated with him and thought that he lacked talent.  It was pretty clear that this coach wished my son wasn’t on his team.

(I have to interject here and make sure that it is clear that this was one person.  There were multiple other coaches on his team, and they were nice, even encouraging to him.  It’s just when one voice gets stuck in a kid’s head…)

I had to face it.  My kid was right.

Not about the talent, of course:  He has talent.  In the year prior to this miserable season, he led his team with the highest number of RBIs.  This speaks to his ability to hit the ball and consistently get runs home.  Now mind you, he’s probably not going to become a professional baseball player, but to be honest neither are 99.9% of the kids on the field.  I doubt that the .1% will make it either, but I’ll leave the chance open.  If my kid weren’t “stuck in the outfield” for a season to go play catch practice after practice, perhaps the conversation would be different today. But he was “stuck,” and I cannot change that.

My kid was right that there was something wrong with making him play baseball this year.  He’s not allowed to switch teams this year, and the coach isn’t going anywhere.  I’m a reasonable person.  I can understand why he might not want to be a part of something he never felt like he was a part of anyway.  He shouldn’t have to play a game that he doesn’t want to.

He won’t sign up for baseball this year.  I concede, as long as he turns his attention to another physical activity that gives him joy.

However, I have to say, I. AM. PISSED! 

Oh, and I’m not just a little quivering girl who doesn’t know anything about baseball pissed.

I am jack-up, mamma bear, life-long Red Sox fan, throw-like-a-fricken’-girl pissed.

I am pissed that this happened.  I’m pissed that I let this happen.  I’m pissed that it happened right in front of everyone’s noses.  I’m pissed that this “coach” still gets to enjoy watching his kids develop at this sport.  I am pissed that another kid on the team isn’t playing this year for this EXACT same reason.  I’m pissed that more parents don’t volunteer to be coaches. I am pissed that I cannot take it all away and convince him that this year will be better.  I am just pissed.

Here’s what:  I want my child to be able to go up to that coach, look him in the eyes, and tell him that he doesn’t care what the man thinks of him, he’s going to keep playing ball.   I want him to do this, because it is what I would’ve done.  It is what I HAD to do to keep playing games as a child.  (If I hadn’t, I’d been shuffled over to cheering with the other girls.  — Don’t get me wrong, those cheerleaders worked hard; I just preferred to playing the games the boys played.)

He is not me, and he’s not going to do that.  He is going to peacefully walk away from baseball and move onto another endeavor.  Standing up to a coach or a teacher is just not part of who he is.

How can I argue with that?

He is a good soul.  He respects adults, doesn’t care for conflict.  And most importantly, he wants to enjoy his time while he’s playing a game.

How can I tell him that he has to stand up to someone with whom he doesn’t even want to talk?  I can’t.

I’m trying to raise a boy who is respectful and doesn’t need to win something in order to validate himself.  I’m trying to raise a boy who likes to be a part of a team, because teams can do so much more than individuals can.  I’m trying to teach my boy that it’s not the mastery of the game that’s most important; it’s the work you do together that means the most.

If I remember all of that, I’d say my husband and I are doing a pretty darn good job with our boy.  He is going to be a great man and a wonderful coach someday.  He will be mindful to include all of the kids on his team and find ways to motivate each one of team as a true coach would do.

It’s really too bad that my parents raised a bad-ass bitch, because I can’t say it’s going to be as easy for me to walk away…

So, mamma, does any of this sound familiar?  What’s going on with your kiddo?  How are you gonna handle it?



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