Last night was Ethan’s baseball team’s end-of-the-season party. I believe that we Becketts felt the celebration a tad more than the others. Being in the Rookie division required an intense therapy session I wrote out here. Almost three long months later, I am able to look back on the season with gratitude….that it is finally over. 🙂
Baseball was not as torturous as I thought it would be. Ethan did improve to the point that he was able to hit the ball more often than not and make some defensive plays. We were blessed to have a great head coach who never raised his voice and was a steady, mild-mannered encouragement to all the players. He emphasized learning the game and having fun. We had many assistant coaches who patiently worked with the kids. We had parents who were cheering for our son even after a strike-out and whose kids would tell Ethan, “Good game!” Our team was the most diverse one we saw. Immediately after the party, Ethan said that he wanted to practice throwing and hitting. (We exchanged amused looks of disbelief after that statement.)
Despite his improvements, he remained a bit awkward and unnatural. By the end of the half-my-life season, he was complaining before games that he did not want to go. At one point, he did not think he would get a trophy because he thought “only the good players get one.” Feeling like a “bad” player cannot be easy. We told him he had gotten so much better and that his team was relying on him, but it was still a battle to go in the end. Because of all this, we decided to forego fall ball. One mom told me that doing both seasons burnt out her son, and I thought about how one season had already done that with mine. In all honestly, I did not think I could handle it.
The most disappointing part did not involve Ethan. After shaking my head at the parents who screamed the entire game at the kids or yelled at the umpires or questioned the rules, I came to the sad realization that there is not that much separating me from them. What is it about these (children’s!) sporting events that can bring out the worst in us? There were games where I thought I might lose my voice. There were games that I questioned the umpire calling our player out when he was obviously safe! There were games where I thought the other team’s crazy parents were taking it a little too seriously. (Uh, hello, log in my eye!) I ate some humble pie while I sat in the stands trying to exhibit self-control.
The party was at a park where the kids got to make their own ice cream sundaes. There was plenty of sugar, laughter, playing and fun.
Towards the party’s end, the coach handed out trophies with words of appreciation for each player. I surprised myself with the emotion I felt when it was Ethan’s turn. Who has to hold back tears at these little things?! Apparently, I do. It made me so proud that he never once asked to quit. Sure, he whined and protested before the latter games, but he persevered through a long season. He tried his best even when he would have rather been sticking his nose in a book. He was so calm throughout each game no matter what (unlike his crazy mother). He displayed a quiet and impressive fortitude through all the challenges that came with doing something that does not come easy. He taught his mother a lot by his example.
Ethan said several times afterwards, “This is my very first trophy ever.” It is his non-expressive way of showing ecstatic joy. He must feel immensely happy and proud. I know how he feels because I feel that way to the greatest extent possible about him.
Mike anticipates Ethan playing again next Spring. He thinks Ethan can keep learning and improving. I admit the camaraderie among players and parents was special. However, I am not ready to commit. Do I want to have baseball take over our lives again? Do I want to subject my accountability partner to prayer requests about little league? Do I think I can behave in the stands? Can I watch my son struggle through and experience nervous turmoil again? If my beloved son wants to play another season, then I see myself unable to stand in the way. Until then, I am going to enjoy the next nine months TO THE FULLEST after which Ethan may resume teaching life lessons to his less educated Mama. With all that he endured, I feel as proud of him as if he had hit grand slam home runs each game. He continues to be our precious MVP.