While the sight of baseball from behind a field instead of kicking the lime-streaked foul ball lines is settling in, so is my appreciation for the effort being put forth on the diamond. No longer is every swing and miss critiqued, rather it's stored for later use, much like seeing a tell at the poker table. Eyes front and center, both hands on the follow-through, swinging thru the hips, all were shown last night. The clouds finally broke the outcast skies as the sunshine forced the bleacher crews to become right fielders with hand visors trying to block out just enough light to see a line shot coming from the bat of their child.
Appreciation of kids gets lost among the daily routine, the struggles of job security, and the inevitable times of a kid being a kid. They don't shoot out with a grand knowledge of the world and it's societial rules of etiquite. They're immature since they haven't made the mistakes that we have yet. That doesn't prevent the scolding and losing patience of when one of those written or unwritten rules is broken. The parent's mind breaks from logic for a few seconds and becoming a bubbling volcano only capped by a thin but iron clad lid of reason. Yes, there's times when that lid is blown off and shoots towards Jupiter at the rate of a Stephen Strassburg fastball after the little footstep are heard coming down the hallway for the sixth request of a drink/book/movie/snack. Out on the playing fields at the beginning of the season I lost that appreciation. Focusing more on "he's better than that" rather than "I'm glad he's enjoying himself". He could feel my glares but I was blinded by my tunnel vision of setting my son out there unmolded and him transforming into the best player on the field.
Then you kind folks wrote in on your own experiences with this, and it made me realize WHY I'm making the trek thru my parent's backyard that once held the tee box of a makeshift six hole golf course and up to the ball fields where Ricky Vaughn would have been impressed with my inability to throw it across the plate. I am merely the hand that guides now, it is his decision to play and at what effort level he chooses. If he wants to hit up the cages, we'll do that, have a catch in the backyard, let me get my glove, but it's his choice not mine.
Last night my boy hit the first pitch thrown to him without much effort and lined both of them hard. His swing was fluid and I could tell there was a level of concentration going on unseen during that first game. The person who needed to improve was the one wearing the size 13 shoes, not the size two. While I'll still wince at the dropped balls, as long as I get that goofy smile with the thumbs up, I'll know there's a chance that both of us will become better in our respective roles and continue to enjoy each other for who we are.