Monday, June 23, 2008

Batter Up!

His face was tight. His teeth clenched. Sitting in the dugout with fifty other boys, he looked angry, unapproachable.

Only I knew the fierce wall was his attempt at holding back a rush of tears. He lowered the bill of his baseball cap veiling his eyes. I remembered the wide smile he gave when we purchased the hat the day before.

His anxiety came on a few minutes before arriving at the field. "Mom, do you think everyone is better than me?" he asked.

"Some people will be better, some worse," I answered. "But you'll all have fun improving. The first day is always the hardest, sweetie. It'll get easier. I promise."

"Mom, I want to leeeeave," he mouthed from deep inside the sea of strangers.

I chirped an encouraging song and turned my back; giving him less opportunity for escape and me a moment to gather courage.

His group was called and they left the dugout for the field in single file. He broke formation and came toward me, head lowered. Heads turned to look as he wordlessly begged me for release.

"You'll be fine," I said as I turned him around and escorted him back to his line.

I lugged around his anguish all morning as I recalled my own feelings of isolation and inadequacy. My childhood anxieties crippled me way into adulthood.

Hours later, I returned to the scene of the crime. I sneaked up on the group hoping to get a true glimpse of my son's mood before my presence changed his colors. He was holding court with five boys, making them laugh, being silly...being him.

I was unaware of how tense I was until I felt my shoulders drop. Minutes later while exiting the park, I asked him how long he stayed upset.

"Just a few minutes after you left."

His batting average is already better than mine.


Sandy B & Dick said...

Bravo for your son and his courage!

ByJane said...

You are one INCREDIBLE mother. He's lucky to have you.

2KoP said...

Letting them succeed or fail all on their own is the hardest part about parenting. Sadly, this part doesn't get easier as they get older. Lovely piece.

Dawn said...

It's so hard, isn't it?

I could feel your tension and heartache.

You're a great mom, doing a wonderful job.

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