Sunday, April 27, 2008

A confession

Today I went to N's T-ball game. I hated it. Every single, boring, irritating minute of it. In fact, as cute as N. looked in his little uniform, I couldn't wait for it to be over.

For those of you unfamiliar with T-ball, it's pretty much baseball on a stick. They sit a baseball on a large tee, and let the kids hit the ball off the tee.

The really sad part is that most of the kids STILL MISS THE BALL.

I mean, it's on a STICK! It's not moving! There are no curveballs or sliders, it's never high or low, it's stationary.

And they still miss it.

Now me, I think this means that these six-year-olds just aren't developmentally ready for baseball yet. That's okay; they can wait another year, or two, until they are.

Apparently I'm in the minority on that one. Tom thinks it's harmless enough and teaches the kids the most basic principles of how to play baseball: i.e., you try to hit the ball and if you do, you run; you can't throw the baseball at the runner like a dodgeball; the game is played in a diamond shape.

N.'s game took two and a half hours. It was only three innings long. The game is so damn affirming and positive that each kid on each team gets to bat. They can only do three "innings" of this, since there are about 12 kids on each team, so letting each one bat takes about 45 + minutes when all is said and done. (No one keeps track of outs or runs.) In the meantime, the kids in the field are picking dandelions, picking their underwear, picking their noses, and doing just about anything other than trying to catch the ball. Their parents are cheerfully yelling positive, affirming things, like "Great try, Declan!" and "Good hustle, Chase!" (or do I mean "Good chase, Hustle!"?) while the coaches are teaching the kids waiting to bat to singsong "Let's go, Leighton, let's go!" [clap clap], like apathetic -- and slightly demonic -- monks.

The saving grace on N's team is a kid named Daniel. Daniel is the anti-T-ball player. He packs quite a punch of contrariness, does Daniel. When the kids are singsonging for Leighton to get a hit, Daniel singsongs, "Strike out Leighton, strike out!" [clap clap] When it's Daniel's turn to bat and the coach tells him "You're up, Daniel!", Daniel says, "Nope. I don't feel like batting."

"But Daniel, it's your bat!"

"I don't feel like batting right now."

"C'mon, Daniel, the team needs you!"

Studied pause. "Nope."

Best of all, when the "game" is over and the two teams file by each other you can hear Daniel muttering, "Bad game" "Bad game" to each proffered high five that passes by.

Now that's my kind of T-ball player.


Anonymous said...

You made me laugh :) Terry

Liz K. said...

My boy is playing t-ball too (yeah, he'll be FIVE next week) and gratefully, only 5 kids bat per inning, and we have 4 innings total. So each kid gets two at-bats per game. The games last maybe an hour. The problem with our t-ball season is that there are so many freakin' games that are on no set schedule that our whole family life seems to revolve around getting my four year old (and his father, the coach) to t-ball.

But the weather's been nice. Annie brings a book and a jump rope, I bring my knitting, and Joe is having a blast.

Loren T said...

Ha! Do you have snack nazis, too? We had one family last year who wanted carrot sticks, apple slices, water, or nothing at all for post-game snacks. My youngest has moved from t-ball to his first year of machine pitch, and the kids are still rolling around in the grass and picking dandelions. A coach on one of our opposing teams was so sickly affirming that each kid got his own little cheer before and after he went up to hit. That game took freaking forever.

It gets a lot better. My oldest (a fifth grader) is a killer pitcher, and his games are very exciting.

Bridget said...

This post was very funny!

But clearly you are a terrible mother ... ;-)

Carol said...

Well I could have written a whole post about the snack thing. Am I crazy, or should a bunch of kids be able to play for an hour without being provided with a damn snack?? I mean, fine, bring a beverage, but is it any surprise we have an epidemic of obesity when an hour of not-very-vigorous exercise has to be met with a week-by-week plan of who brings what snack that rivals the complexity of the plans to invade Normandy?

CiCi and CAJtalk said...

thats funny my daughter had softball today ,,,, I have to bring snacks for 12 kids and how about the kids need a drink every 10 minutes.. why don't we provide for our own kids and not the entire team. Even after bringing the snacks, most of the parents bring their own snacks anyways,,, Then someone when out and got the coach 2 baconators and every kid on the team a frosty from wendy's..oh and one of the kids that has a sprained ankle sits there watching but shes so thirty she needed 4 gator ades during game.

(formerly) no-blog-rachel said...

Damn - that was so funny I had to read it out loud to my husband. I'm glad Daniel doesn't live in MY house but I like him!

Thanks for the laugh!

hokieknitter said...

Oh, yeah, lived through coaching the daughter's t-ball and softball teams til she was 14 and old enough for the high school team. You do know that Daniel's going to be the one who ends up with the huge contract playing for the Phillies and the bad boy reputation will only have the all of the city yelling "Do it again, Daniel!" as he takes them to the World Series. :-)

Anonymous said...

Umm...boring as all get out, BUT the perfect time for knitting!! It doesn't get much better btw - 2.5 hours for 4 innings on my 11 year old's team the other night.

Pam the Yarn Goddess said...

I'll probably get tomatoes thrown at me for this one, but uh... what's the point? What is this teaching kids about rules and sports in general? While it's true that not all kids are ready for softball or baseball until they're older, and while I don't think any kid should have the chance to play taken away from him, all this is doing is teaching kids that they can play a game (or behave) any way they like. Life is not all positive and affirming - in fact, it's just the opposite. If you do something right, or good, then you get praised. If you don't, then you get told about it along with some help on how to improve whatever it is you did wrong. I've been subjected to more brats in places like restaurants where I've politely asked parents to stop their kids from reaching over the booth and banging me on the head with a metal car (and I'm bald, so it hurts), only to have the parents yell at me and tell me that I have no business being "negative" to their little darlings. I can't imagine a world full of teenagers who do what they want, when they want (and sadly, we're pretty much there now already).

The other thing that drives both Hubster and I nuts is this notion that kids are stupid and don't understand the notion of self-esteem. If they get told all the time that they're doing great (when, in fact, they KNOW they're messing up), then the affirmation of self-worth is meaningless. Why give out praise for something that isn't in existence?

Maybe I'm just getting old, but I'm from the old school - you teach a child the proper way to do things; if they don't, they have consequences. Such is life. And I don't think any kid is too young to begin teaching them manners, how to behave in a group, rules, etc. I teach my grands rules and proper behavior no matter what they're doing (they'll be four next month), and they're thriving. Kids do best with boundaries. It makes them feel more secure to know what's expected of them. I'm not an ogre - I think kids should be allowed to run and jump and play in the proper setting - like your backyard or a park where you're supervising them. But saying they don't feel like batting? I don't think so.

If it's any consolation, I would have fallen asleep even knitting. That's what happened at the Stitch 'n Pitch game I went to. It was SO boring that I just couldn't stay awake. And I lettered in pitching in high school, so it's not like I don't understand the game.

You're a perfectly wonderful mother. Don't let anybody tell you otherwise, either.

Anonymous said...

I think that you sound like a perfectly reasonable mother. My girls would have no acitvities if I wasn't allowed to knit during them.

Anonymous said...

The only thing worse than t-ball is when they start pitching to each other, around age 9. Imagine both mind-numbingly boring and incredibly nerve-wracking (every half hour or so when your kid bats or pitches) in a 2-3 hour package. In the freezing fog in San Francisco (applies to both spring and fall ball). Good luck!

Teresa said...

One word - soccer. Sure the kids all run after the ball instead of playing positions but they are running around. There are goals as well.

Sherry W said...

I don't get T-ball. I learned to play baseball- with an adult throwing slow, easy underhand pitches. We practiced hitting so kids had a chance to hit it. I think we got 5 strikes instead of three the first year. Much more fun. Maybe kids are just starting a bit too young?

fillyjonk said...

Once, in my distant past, I was made to take field hockey, because it was considered by Those in Charge (i.e., my parents) that I needed Exercise and also Time Spent with the Other Girls at my School. (I guess the fact that I didn't voluntarily spend time with the other girls at my school wasn't the tip-off it should have been).

I was kind of my team's Daniel, so I have a certain amount of sympathy for him. (Except I couldn't refuse to hit the ball, and the Other Girls at my School used to "test" the structural integrity of my shinguards with their hockey sticks.)

After that, I always tried to go out for the most "solo" sports possible when made to do sport - singles tennis, swimming (which is a team sport but doesn't require team-type participation).

Sally said...

You're not a bad mother, you're an honest mother with a life.

One of the phys ed teachers at the school where I work actually advised me not to sign the Banana up for t-ball because it's so effin' boring. I'd much rather spend an hour each Saturday morning listening to my oh-so-graceful ballerina and her little giggling comrades jump around like a herd of epileptic elephants. The ballet moms rock.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Sally. The reason I don't sign my daughter up for ballet, T-ball(ugh), gymnastics or anything else is that most, if not all, of the practices and games take place on Saturday mornings. Where are we on Saturday mornings? At synagogue. Plus which, my husband and I work full time all week and the last thing we feel like doing on weekends is schlepping around to boring kids' sporting events. We'd rather go to the park, or wherever, on our own schedule.