It was around this time last year when I made a decision I still regret. I chose not to sign my daughter up again for Little League Softball®. I told Katie in the car on the way to a playdate with one of her friends. “Why?” was all she asked. I struggled to find an answer because most, no ALL, of my reasons had to do with me. So, all I came up with was, “Maybe we should try dance or cheerleading.” Katie just looked out the window.
Okay, I wasn’t into softball. I never played. I didn’t understand a lot of the rules. I didn’t get into the social scene like the other parents did. I just dropped off, and picked up. There were practices, cold days at the field eating concession stand food, and a coach that seemed, to me anyway, that was always yelling. Even though I was distant, and see now, not supportive or engaged at all, Katie had a really good season. She improved when she was up to bat. She even caught a few ground balls. And, she had fun with her friends. But, the truth was, that I wasn’t having fun, and not really trying to, either.
I walked my daughter into the house to meet up with her friend for the playdate. Katie and Josey had been on the same softball team. First thing out of Katie’s mouth when she saw Josey was, “I’m not playing softball next year.”
“No?” came a voice from in the kitchen. Josey’s mother walked into the living room. “Why not?” Katie just shrugged her shoulders, and went to the basement with her friend.
Josey’s mom looked at me, and said, “I thought she had fun last season.”
I mentioned that Katie did, but that I didn’t think she got enough out of it.
“What were you expecting?” she asked.
I knew Josey’s mother, Barb, from PTO. We were friendly, but I wouldn’t have called us “friends.” So, I wasn’t really comfortable getting into it, plus, I knew in my heart that my reasons were selfish and wrong. “I wasn’t sure what to expect,” I said. Barb, who also volunteered as Team Mom, folded her arms, obviously looking for something more. I didn’t know what to say, so I just blurted out something I had no clue about. “I guess part of it is that I didn’t like the way the team was coached.”
“Really?” said Barb. “Tom’s one of the best coaches we have.”
“Well, it’s … I don’t know … it’s a long season, and all.” Barb just stood there. “We’re a really busy family.”
Barb motioned to the sofa, and asked me to sit. I told her I really had to get going. Barb was persistent. She took me by the arm, and walked me over. Barb sat next to me, and without being preachy, said she and other parents had hoped that I would have been more involved with the softball team, and as the Team Mom, she saw first-hand how much fun Katie had on the team.
Just then Katie and Josey came up from the basement. Both wear wearing softball gloves.
“Mom, we’re going out in the yard to catch,” Josey said to her mother.
Barb looked at me, and just smiled. I got her point, but I was stubborn. I didn’t sign Katie up for the following softball season.
Throughout that spring and summer, all Katie wanted to do was go watch her old softball team play. She had no interest in dance lessons or cheerleading. I’d take her to the field, and at first, all I did was walk her to the bleachers, and would then go for a walk throughout the complex for some exercise. One day, though, I joined my daughter on the bleachers. Katie was cheering, smiling, and yelling to her friends on the field.
Barb saw me, popped her head out of the concession stand, and yelled, “See you next year?”
Fast-forward to this fall. I just signed Katie up for Little League again. I also asked Barb how to volunteer.