This is my son Nathan (aka Nate the Great) at his first T-ball game. He loves everything about the sport from the gear to running the bases to the snacks afterward. When he makes that final sprint from 3rd base to home plate he even waves at the crowd.
I’m not much of a sports fan but I must confess, watching a bunch of 5-and-6-year-olds play T-ball is a blast. They each get a chance at bat, nobody keeps score, and the parents cheer for every player, including those on the opposite team. If somebody makes a mistake we all laugh it off and applaud anyway. Only about half the kids know what they’re doing, which is what makes the game so fun to watch. This morning, my husband’s hat blew off (he is an assistant coach) and Nathan, along with about half a dozen other kids, stopped mid-play to chase it down the field and catch it for him.
We have a great picture of Nate with one mit-covered hand out, ready to catch a fly ball and the other hand in his mouth wiggling a loose tooth. And you should see these pint-sized players in catcher’s gear. It’s a wonder they can walk without falling over.
I love that the boys high five players from the other team on the way around the bases, or talk while they wait for the next batter to hit. At their age they are first and foremost friends. Instead of “We’re playing the Yankee’s tonight. I hate that team” it’s “We’re playing the Yankee’s. That’s Zack’s team. Cool!” They are out there to have a good time, see their friends, and have a juice box and packaged doughnuts afterward.
Why can’t activities stay this way—pure enjoyment, no rivalry, pressure, or competition? At the end of a game, Nathan is jazzed and chattering on.
“Did you see me playing catcher?”
“Did you see how far I hit?”
“Do we have another game tomorrow?”
I dread the day when he drags his feet to the car because he missed a pitch or stuck out. For now I plan to enjoy watching him love the game as he should. I am also using his games as reminders to enjoy life more instead of putting so much pressure on myself.
Think of an activity that used to be fun until it became competitive or pressure-filled. What can you do to rediscover the excitement? If you need a little inspiration, go watch a T-ball game.
I think I’m craving a juice box and packaged doughnut.