After a less-than-enjoyable night before at the baseball fields due to the fact that I was stuck blessed with two unbelievably whiny young boys and that our team took a whoopin’ from a team we had previously whooped on (As Boy #1 would say, ‘We got pwned’), I wasn’t extremely enthused about spending another night at the diamonds. But, considering I didn’t think “Because Mommy wants to drink wine and eat Cheetos” sounded like a real great excuse to miss, I sucked it up, plastered a grimace smile on my face, and pretended that there was no place I’d rather be.
‘Cause that’s our job as moms (and dads), right?
And since it was Boy #2’s game, I knew the potential for entertainment was high. (It’s important to find your own incentives.)
As we sat tonight in our chairs by ourselves per usual and I couldn’t help but see (but mostly hear) the other parents in the bleachers, I realized that we are kind of the outcasts of the team. Part of this may be because unlike other players who arrived in their crisp white ironed T-shirts tucked in to their grass-stain-free pants, our poor son made his initial appearance on the field already looking like he had crawled a half-mile through the grass before splashing in a puddle of red Kool-Aid mixed with dirt. Okay, I admit, his mom may not have gotten the uniform washed after Saturday’s game, BUT, to my defense, this weekend was Laundry Disaster Weekend at our house, which involved such activities as “Trip the breaker after loading your dryer with sopping wet clothes from the washer that won’t spin or rinse but don’t realize it’s just the breaker until you’ve googled how to take apart your dryer (which your husband manages to do) so then you have to put it back together but you still don’t have a washer so you get your dad to bring you a loaner washer from 1943 to use, which is really nice of him but it’s so small it can only wash three washcloths at a time and it leaks a little too.”
Right away, we noticed the other team’s coach. It would be really difficult to miss him. Honestly, instead of a real person, it was like watching someone acting out a spoof of himself. He didn’t stop yell-talking the ENTIRE GAME. I’m talking offense, defense, between innings, it didn’t matter. He was coaching the hell out of those 8-year-olds!
However, I wondered if having him stand directly in their line of vision only about 20 feet from the batter and yelling “encouragingly” non-flippin’-stop was actually encouraging to the kids or, rather, distracting.
My money’s on the latter.
“C’mon, you can do it! Plant your foot, lean into it, hands back, knees bent, chin down, lips pursed, gut sucked in, toys pointed, elbows touching, nostrils flared, eyes crossed!”
Okay, maybe he didn’t go quite that far. But it was nonstop in-your-face intense instruction.
“Wow, they hired a motivational speaker to coach their team!” I told Husband as I spit out my BBQ sunflower seeds shells onto the ground. (I am ALL lady.)
And, I kid you not, the man did not stop moving the entire hour and a half. Whether he was demonstrating how to hold the bat, showing the catcher how to squat, or waving his arms in the infield as he went through every possible runner scenario, one thing was certain—when he got home, he had to be EXHAUSTED.
As I was listening to his incessant chatter, something about his voice rang familiar. “Close your eyes,” I told Husband. “Who does he sound like?”
“Will Ferrell?” I asked, and Husband smiled in agreement. So the rest of the game I pictured as an SNL skit or possibly the Kicking & Screaming sequel: The Little League version. Try this: Close your eyes and just listen to Will Ferrell in the trailer for Kicking & Screaming below. Then pretend you’re at the 8-year-old Little League game with me. I promise, it will be fun. (Well, maybe I don’t promise…)
Tonight was also the first night the coaches let kids try to pitch. You can imagine what fun that was. Of course, our kid didn’t get to pitch, but I can see why. It would be hard to beat the coach’s kid who either rolled it across the plate or threw it directly behind the batters.
And as much as I try not to be “that Little League parent” (you know the one), I admit I may have to, just for a little bit. Because apparently we have one of three scenarios going on with our team:
1. The coach has absolutely no plan of attack for the games and just willy-nilly assigns kids to positions.
2. The coach is punishing our kid because we don’t buddy-up with the rest of the parents on the bleachers. (I don’t mean to be rude, but a few are just a little too annoying to be around at the end of a long day.)
3. The coach has separated the wheat from the chaff, and apparently, my kid has been labeled “chaff.”
I try not to complain because I certainly don’t want to coach the team, and I realize that no one’s perfect or going to be able to please everybody. However, the fact that my kid has played predominantly the outfield every single game — coupled with the fact that not only is he just as good as everyone else on the team but also HE’S EIGHT — is starting to really chap (or chaff) my hide. Last night? He started in center field. Then moved to right field. Then moved to left field. And if you’re guessing that the outfielders don’t see much action, you have obviously witnessed a Little League Coach Pitch game. Oh, don’t worry, though. Boy #2 makes his own action out there. He’s often practicing his pitching or making a double-play with his imaginary friends. Hey — it’s better than lying down and taking a nap, which is what some of the other kids do.
It’s just that I’m really not sure 1. how they can assess how good he is, or 2. how he can learn anything when he does not get to play infield in games and they don’t have any practices. I don’t know, call me a kooky parent, but when things are BLATANTLY unfair, I pull out my mama bear voice . . . and then send a passive-aggressive email. Which is what I’ll be doing tomorrow.
Fortunately, Boy #2 doesn’t seem to notice any of this, which is just how I want it. He made a couple good hits (one of the few who actually hit off another kid and not the coach), got to see a few friends from school, and went home with a bag of Doritos. To him, life is good.