It was a lovely day for our kindergarteners to start tee-ball. There are eight kids in all on J’s team, six boys, two girls. The coach lined them up.
Oh, but they are a motley crew.
While Coach Doug spoke his first instructions, 3 of 8 were picking their noses (J) and two were air-batting. The other three just kept wandering off, to be escorted back to their place in line by a parent.
Next, the kids fanned out onto the field. Coach Doug pulled players from the outfield (I use the term “outfield” very loosely) to bat one by one. First up were the two girls. Gina hit the ball 6 feet off the tee, then turned around and crouched down next to the equipment bag. She placed the bat carefully back inside, (in the precise location from whence it came), took off her helmet and placed it next to the bat, and after several minutes of enthusiastic urges from the parents and coach Doug, took off running for third base.
Meanwhile, in the outfield, no one appeared to have noticed that the ball was in play.
J, over at second base, was building a sand castle.
The coach caught up with Gina and turned her around. She ran directly across the field to first base, where Jacob, the first baseman, seemed genuinely surprised to see her.
I noticed that my child had begun to throw sand toward the children on first base. Unfortunately for J, they were standing upwind. He got his handful of crap blown back at him but was not discouraged by such a minor setback. He grabbed another handful, looking quite determined to reach his intended target.
“We don’t throw dirt, J” I yelled.
“It’s not dirt, Mom, it’s sand” J yelled back. Obviously this makes all the difference. A ripple of laughter ran through the parental troupe. Great, my kid is the smartass.
After the girls, who now occupy first and second base, it’s J’s turn to bat. J already has a nickname, given by coach Doug, “Lefty”.
I bet you can’t guess why.
J hit the ball off the tee so hard it flew all the way to the grass. Two children went after it, and the parental crowd went wild.
For a moment, it almost looked like they were playing a sport.
Immediately, J looked at me and said:
“Mommy! Did you see that? I hit a home run!”
The parents answered him in unison:
J dropped the bat and ran toward first base. I was one proud Mama.
Neither of the girls occupying first or second base moved forward, so J just ran on by them. Miles, the only child who appeared to have a grasp of the rules, ran after the ball, picked it up, and tagged my son out between second and third.
Ah, but J was not to be deterred.
As J rounded third and made for home, a disgruntled Miles shouted after him “I tagged you, you’re OUT.”
J may have heard Miles, but he paid no heed. Instead, he ran directly home, stomped on the base, and declared himself Derek Jeter.
Billy was up next. He hit another little dribbler, but he took off for first base like his pants were on fire. The little girl on first base moved to second. The parents erupted into applause.
You go kids.
Matthew was next to bat. Unfortunately, he could not stand still for long enough to hit the ball off the tee. I wouldn’t have wanted to be within 100 feet of that child while he had a bat in his hands. He chopped at the air and the tee…he looked like he was having some kind of episode. Finally, Coach Doug walked into the batters cage (taking his life into his hands) and held Matthews’ hands still enough to guide the bat to the ball on the tee. Matthew giggled:
“Mommy! I hit it! I hit it!”
All the parents chanted in unison:
Matthew somehow made it to first base. He reminded me of Steve Martin in that old Saturday Night Live skit— Two Wild and Crazy Guys. I was concerned he was having a seizure, but was reassured by another parent that no, that’s just him.
Nobody knew which of the five children on second base belonged there, but two were wearing batting helmets, and there were several discarded gloves near the child clump. They had all been told to touch the base during their stay, so all five children were crowded together at second base, and space was at a premium. We started to hear shouts of “But I was here first”.
Also, one of the children brought a bat along with him and was trying to swing it.
The mother of the child with the bat intervened, and it all turned out okay once the kid who was batting next whacked the ball so hard that it went flying by second base. All five children (including the base runners) ran after it like it was a creepy white van with “Free Candy” written on the side.
The next kid hit the ball directly at J, who was then playing shortstop. J held his glove out directly in front of him and stood like a statue as the ball bonked off his foot. Once it was established that J did not have a boo-boo, I shouted:
“J— get the ball!”
He looked at me like I had spiders crawling out of my head. I tried again.
The ball came to rest five feet behind J. Miles, the only child who had any idea at which sport they were currently playing, began to run resignedly from first base to collect the ball.
J was moved to third base, where Billy (The Wild and Crazy Guy) was the baserunner.
He and Billy are friends, so, as Billy was pried from third base and sent to home plate, he took the extra time to stop, bend over, and quite flamboyantly fart at my son.
This was an Ah-ha moment for J.
J found this moment to be the most brilliant moment in all of sports history, and felt that it would be beneficial for all base runners from that moment forward to enjoy the same experience while they waited to run home.
You know, pay it forward.
J was moved back to shortstop.
As J was playing shortstop again, the ball dribbled by him on multiple occasions. He simply could not understand how, with his flawless technique, he was not succeeding.
J stands stock still, his little blue mitt directly in front of him- as he was shown- yet somehow the ball dribbling by on the ground never managed to land in it. Perplexing, I know.
J got to bat once more before the practice ended. Unfortunately, he forgot to take off his glove and was so excited to be at bat that he did not hear me or the coach telling him what to do. Ol’ Lefty thwacked that ball so hard it rolled right into the outfield, and he managed to run all the way to second base, (with bat, glove, and helmet) where three other children and various pieces of equipment had taken up residence. In all his excitement, he had also forgotten to drop his bat, so he stood at second base with his helmet, glove, and bat, proud, ready and waiting to run to third. He waved at me with his glove.
I love that kid.
I think they might be ready for a game.