Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Cruel and unusual punishment


Several weeks ago, my dear wife asked told me to sign Jr. up for T Ball, the pre-curser to baseball for children, so I duly paid the fee and signed my name in blood. We have tried to get our son interested in team ball sports, but apart from kicking a soccer ball past his own goalkeeper during an English soccer camp on the island, he has so far failed to show either prowess or interest, which is fine by me. Playing team sports here requires the logistics of the last crusade, the patience of Mother Teresa, and the time that only the seriously driven parent can afford.

Zero out of 3 so far.

So it was with a certain amount of trepidation, I drove him to his first team meeting.
After corralling the  future Allstars in the bull pen, the coach gave them all a little talk on what to expect. They had to run to first base to be allowed on the team, which they all managed to do with a little help from eager parents. The coach then handed out their uniforms and told us to be at the High School for opening day of the baseball season, uniforms on and raring to go at 9.00am sharp.
Saturday morning at 8.30am, we were still hunting for elements of the uniform that had disappeared as soon as we got out of the car from his first practice. Not an auspicious start.
We arrived there 5 minutes late, and discovered (not for the 1st time) that the word "sharp" on Vashon, really means "approximately."
The fairly pleasant weather of the last 3 weeks had changed overnight to a blustery, chilling and downright dirty day. We stood in line for 20 minutes for the team photo, by which time some of the younger kids had been taken home with frostbite.

 

 Parents huddled round cups of coffee to keep warm while the coach encouraged her new recruits to jump, stretch, wrestle run on the spot to ward off hypothermia.


There were 5 other T ball teams there, as well as all the teams from the middle and high school, and all of them were programmed to play a short game each, before the parade could start. Needless to say, there was an awful lot of standing around. As if to add more misery to the plot, the wind picked up speed and sent anything that wasn't screwed down scurrying across the sports field, including mini tornadoes of dust from the pitch.
I hid sheltered in the dugout and watched as their first game progressed, shivering as the realization that this might be what my life was going to look like took hold. It didn't help that my wife had just told me that our friend Jim had been to every practice and every game his two sons had played, and then stated, "Now that's a real Dad for you."
As the game progressed, I found myself getting more involved, as kids ran around the diamond with scant idea of what or where they were supposed to be doing or going.


"Throw the ball to first base.....yes the ball in your hand.... throw it to......OK, run over with it....to 1st base.....that's 3rd base......good throw."

It wouldn't be an opening day for anything in America without a parade.
While the compere chatted and the grand stand filled up with parents and sponsors (yup, even T ball has sponsors), the assembled teams stood off in the distance, freezing their little butts off.


It took over half an hour before the assembled masses were ready to watch, by which time, many more of the smaller children had been carried off by their parents. Eventually, the word was given and they trotted past the stand and assembled on the running track, team by team. I had to take a photo of the flag at the corner of the field, as this will give you something of an idea of how windy the day was.


 After all the teams had assembled, they reserved the last bit of torture to close the parade. I am of course referring to the singing of the Star Strangled Banner. Like all dutiful and patriotic citizens, the children and parents, coaches and teachers, all solemnly put their hand over their heart except for Legend Jr (mine were over my ears), as a lady, who I did not recognize, murdered the national anthem.


Who knows where this might lead. So far, he is enjoying his foray with a bat and ball, and I have enjoyed watching. However, I may not have what it takes to be a real dad:)



29 comments:

  1. I do the hockey mom thing - in order to stave off terminal boredom I signed up to actually do stuff. I am now officially the scariest mom before you go on the pitch: I do the health and safety!! No one gets past me without mouth guards in and shin pads on....

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    1. Its the dads who are scary over here. Too much testosterone.

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  2. PS still freeze every Sunday morning...

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  3. Dear Legend, I loved this account of you and Junior's sporting debut, hilarious! And the lady murdering the Star Spangled Banner. I must confess I really don't enjoy watching boys play sport in the cold and rain, I have devised various survival strategies - layers and layers of clothes and thick sock and warm boots (not wellies they let the cold creep up); frequent trips indoors if there is an indoors; hiding out in the car reading, and now I have a rule that I only go to school home games....I don't think being a real dad is proven by attendance at every match - I think that is called living vicariously through your son....here lots of dads don't watch matches as they are often away working, and some dads do a tag team so they only do 1 training session out of every 5....

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    1. Hi Blighty,
      I don't think my parents ever saw me play anything, and that's the way I liked it. It is fun with the little kids, but once it gets serious, I'll be back to "let me know when you need picked up."

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  18. Oh, no! Run away now!!! Many years ago, we signed our kids up for soccer, because we thought that a team ball sport was a good idea. I am at this moment cooling my heels in a public library in Park City, Utah, while my teenage daughter plays in a soccer tournament. Yes! She's still doing it! And so is her brother! And I drive hither and yon all weekend. I don't watch the matches any more. I'm too burned out.

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  20. ooh how I remember those early soccer mornings when we lived in NY.....son spinning in endless cirlces arms out stretched while some coach shouted hoarsely 'offense I said offense'......meanwhile I'm practically living off those vegie bargees of yours!!!

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    1. I'm glad you like them.
      The last game of the season was last night. Highlight? One of the boys doing ballet poses and checking out his hands as the ball rolled passed him. Priceless.

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  21. Phew! Just the photographs' are knackering! Must be sooooo proud!!

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    1. he got the "most improved" award which was a nice way to end his first season.

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  22. My daughter started swim team and soccer in kindergarten, basketball in 7th grade and softball in 8th. I didn't encourage her in ANY of these sports, but dutifully attended her practices and games since I had promised myself at her birth that I would be a supportive parent. I have been either teeth chattering cold (Spring soccer when I could see my breath) to so hot that I feared I would faint (soft ball with the wind blowing so hard that it was like a hair dryer in my face), but I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Except maybe the singing of the national anthem at every stinking game by a parent who fancied herself the next Judy Collins. Her high notes literally made my dog whine and sink to the ground covering his ears.

    You get used to it.

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    1. I love watching him perform. He has his own style for everything he does. Those anthem singers though.......

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  23. Cute and funny, a great post. My son has now asked to play baseball because I had to explain why I was giggling..... thanks for that!

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    1. Hi Lou,
      He's on to tennis at the moment, but back to baseball in the spring

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