I signed Abraham up for the Old Brooklyn Youth League tee-ball league back in April. Due to an enrollment mix-up he got put into a coach-pitch softball team instead. More than a little bit out of his league. He’s been struggling a bit with the gross motor demands and focus necessary to play on the team, but he’s just barely 6, so no one really cares — except for him. He’s been fighting against it because sports aren’t very fun when you’re no good at them. It’s the same whining I dealt with earlier in the year with regard to writing. He just wants to not do it because it is hard. He hasn’t yet internalized that the more you practice the less hard things become. So playing catch or batting practice have been more mental struggles than physical ones.
The biggest obstacle for him has been hitting the ball. It’s not easy. Each time he’s been up to bat and struck out 1−2−3, he’s gotten more and more downcast. He struck out on his first at bat and didn’t want to leave. He wanted to keep swinging. His next at bat he decided to go out there left-handed, and his coach let him. Lo, and behold, he knocked a ball foul and ran to first base! He was so excited. And then crushed and not understanding why he had to go back to the box. He refused to leave first, because he’d earned that base, by gum! Then both teams & the spectators began cheering for him and encouraging him to go back and swing again. Of course, he struck out again, but everyone let him run the bases anyway. It was a great change. He was so happy, and started singing “I Love Baseball!”
The encouragement from the coaches, both teams, and all the spectators made me cry. I’m glad I was wearing sunglasses. This league is about as non-competitive as you can get, all of the adults are focused on making sure the kids have fun and learn about good sportsmanship, camaraderie, and how to play the game.
Tonight when I put Abraham to sleep he said: “When we get up tomorrow morning, can we practice baseball?”