Spring is in the air, the days are longer and the grass is green. And that means it’s time for the annual rite of passage for parents known as t-ball.
This is the time for the 4 to 8 year-old set to learn how to throw, hit and catch. So I felt duty-bound to sign up Older Boy when he was five.
I think participation is actually required by federal law.
After sitting on the sidelines that season, I decided it would be even more fun if we made it a family endeavor since Younger Boy was now old enough to play. I thought being a t-ball coach would be a cinch, so I signed The Husband up.
Signing your spouse up for a volunteer commitment with a group of individuals who do not yet have all their permanent teeth is never a good idea. But I persisted.
“Wouldn’t it be more fun than just sitting there?” I argued. “And don’t worry about doing it all by yourself, I’ll help you. Besides, it’s just t-ball, how hard can it be?”
Does there ever come a point in your life when you stop asking this incredibly stupid question?
At the coaches’ meeting, The Husband picked up a duffel bag of bats, balls, bases, a hitting tee and the roster. I had the most important task – picking out the t-shirt color for our team.
At the first practice, I bribed the five and six-year-olds with juice boxes and sat them in a shady spot under a tree where The Husband was going to introduce the fundamentals of the game to his eager audience. My job was to meet with the parents to discuss their vital role during season: Snack Duty.
As The Husband began his introductory speech, he sounded suspiciously like Ebby Calvin LaLoosh in Bull Durham. “T-ball is a simple game,” he said enthusiastically. “We hit the ball. We catch the ball. We throw the ball.” The kids looked at The Husband with a level of concentration last seen by Sparky Anderson during Game 6 of the 1975 World Series in Fenway Park. I watched in amazement. These kids were serious.
This was going to be hardball.
A tiny girl with enormous blue eyes raised her hand. “I have a puppy,” she announced and ran off towards the swing set. Two others followed.
Several practices later it was Game Day. I was to sit with the kids and maintain order, which amounted to me working them into a general frenzy with knock-knock jokes. My other job was to help them remember THE MOST IMPORTANT T-BALL RULE EVER: DON’T THROW THE BAT.
Puppy Girl hit the ball on the first try. She didn’t slow down as she raced past first base and headed straight for the swing set. The next batter smacked the ball and ran to third. During our turn in the outfield, it didn’t get much better. The left fielder sat down and picked dandelions. The second baseman picked his nose. The centerfielder was doing the Hokey Pokey and made a fabulous play just before she put her whole self in. The third baseman broke into a theatrical version of I Just Can’t Wait To Be King. His mom hid behind a cooler of melting popsicles.
Puppy Girl was up again. She hit the ball, ran to first and broke into a victory dance standing right on top of the base.
And at that moment, my friends, there was finally Joy in Mudville.
What’s your t-ball story? Share it in the comments!