Elizabeth Gilbert gave a talk on the pressures writers and creatives put on themselves, as well as what they gather from expectations from the world. In today’s theme of shitty first drafts, this was just the video I needed to view today. It’s long, but well worth a 20 minute moment of inspiration, or at least a 20 minute hug that everything is going to be ok.
This past February, the Taz tried out for the Little League Majors. He caught every ball, throwing it back with precision. And when he was up to bat, he nailed the heck out of each ball that came his way. Basically, he nailed it. And since he was already 11 and one of the biggest kids trying out, my only question wasn’t about whether he’d make Majors or not, but which coach was fighting over his massive skill for their team.
So imagine my surprise when one of the Minors coaches called me to let me know he was on their team.
The news was all bad. I hadn’t been prepared for this, and had been building up the Majors to Taz since he’d shown nervousness over joining the older league. So when I had to break it to him that he was staying on the younger team, he was totally crushed. Throwing salt in the wound was the fact that all his friends had moved up and were now needling him for being in the “baby league”. Even worse, some of the kids who made it through totally blew their tryouts.
I’m not going to lie. I was pissed. I was starting to feel like this particular Little League had some sort of vendetta against our family.
Last year they put us on a team that had no coach. None. Like, if you want your kid to play baseball, someone better step up to the plate. It meant that none of the coaches deemed our kids worthy enough for their team, so we were stuck on a team of leftovers. Thankfully it turned out better than we could have anticipated since a great coach stepped up and guided our boys to 4th place in the League.
But this year? My son had done excellent at tryouts, better than most of the kids there, and he was left behind yet again.
First day on the field, Taz was a full head taller than everyone on his team. I couldn’t help but feel bad for him, surrounded by 9 year olds who had just moved up from the Rookies.
“This is stupid,” he muttered. And his attitude followed him out on the field, affecting his performance completely. It had been my hope that at the very least, Taz could outshine all his teammates and show his coaches the mistake that had been made. But I had to eat a bit of crow as I watched the boys lap him on the baseball diamond, my own son lumbering behind them at a much slower pace.
Ah, running. So not the Taz’ strong suit. The kid can throw. He can pitch. He can catch. And he can hit the stuffing out of a baseball. But he cannot run fast, even if his life depends on it. Even though my ego was still sore from him not getting picked, I was starting to understand that there may have been a reason, and perhaps this was it.
The coaches worked closely with the kids, and soon Taz’ speed was picking up. He would never be as fast as the littler kids on his team, but he was moving with a bit more agility than the first practice. And something else was different this year too. In previous years, the kids were just plain mean. My sensitive boy couldn’t just let insults slide off, but would carry the weight of them on his shoulders. But being the older kid this year, the younger players looked up to him. He became the leader of the pack. And it was a major ego booster.
This last weekend he attended practice. And as they worked on batting, he nailed it and sent it flying over the fence. That one play had the whole team rooting for him, and Taz promised he would do it again at the game.
There were limited coaches at the game this last Tuesday, so the coach made Taz his base coach.
“If it looks good, send them,” the coach said. And I marveled at how the Taz straightened up with a bit of responsibility placed on his shoulders. He paid attention to the game, offering support and advice to the players at bat. In the dugout, he shared a game rule a new player didn’t know about yet. And when it was his turn at bat, he lined himself up at the plate and looked the pitcher dead in the eye. The first pitch was too low. The second, a strike.
“You’ve seen what it looks like,” his coach called out. “Swing when the monster in your belly tells you to.”
Taz took a few practice swings, and then toed the plate. The pitch was thrown and he swung easily at the ball. There was a very distinct crack of the bat, and ball went sailing. Taz didn’t even run right away, watching it as it sailed up into the air and then over the fence. And the whole crowd cheered as he made his way around the bases, a huge grin on his face. His team gave him high fives, patting him on the back. And Taz glowed in the glory.
And I’m guessing that it was no coincidence that we received a call this morning that the Taz was being drafted up to the Majors.
There’s mixed feelings with this one. We love our Minor team’s coaches and team. It’s been such a great experience for Taz to be someone looked up to rather than someone made fun of. And the Majors is a lot faster and more experienced than the Minor League. I told the person on the phone that we had to think about it and I’d let her know.
“I hate to put it this way,” she told me, “but no matter what, he’s going to have to trade teams. If Taz doesn’t go to the Majors, he’ll have to take the place of the kid who does move.”
So we’re now a part of the Majors.
Taz got one last stint with his Minor League team today at their annual bat-a-thon. He ended up hitting one against the fence, a couple pop flies, and two over the fence homeruns.
Not bad for a Minor League reject. Right?
Just like all 9 year old baseball players and older, the Taz had baseball tryouts this past weekend. Graduating from the Rookies to be a part of the Minors, this was our first year ever to have to tryout before being placed on a team. Ours were held in the gym over at Elsie Allen High School – which was pretty cool because there is no chance of it being rained out. The kids were tested on their catching and throwing skills, and their batting skills.
But rather than describe it, here is a short clip of the Taz during his tryouts.
In the car on the way home, the Taz did a commentary on his performance. Note: he held the video camera (i.e. iPhone) the whole time, as I was driving.
(of course, there were the outtakes…..)
Anyone else do tryouts yesterday?
Have any links to photos or videos you want to share to showcase your talented son or daughter?
Leave it in the comments!
“Did you eat your breakfast?” I asked my son this morning as he turned on his video games before school.
“Uh, yeah,” he said.
“Alright, what did you eat?” I asked my little Tasmanian Devil.
“Oh yeah, I didn’t. But I’m not hungry,” he told me.
“Turn off the game. You’re not allowed to play until you have finished getting ready, and that includes eating breakfast and brushing your teeth,” I reminded him.
“Oh my gosh, Mom! You don’t care about me?” My son likes to go into dramatics when he isn’t getting his way, especially when it’s getting in the middle of his game playing time. “I told you I’m not hungry, and now you’re making me eat!”
“Turn off the game,” I told “the Taz” again. “Go eat your breakfast.” And grudgingly he did so. He ate as fast as he could, put his bowl in the sink, then went back to the games.
“Did you brush your teeth?” I asked him. He loudly groaned, then stomped upstairs to do a poor job of brushing the gunk off. 7:45, and he went back to the game. “We don’t have time for you to play. It’s time for us to leave for school,” I told him, totally aware of his reaction just as I was aware of the time.
“What?!? You mean I ate breakfast for nothing?!? You wasted all my time!” he yelled.
“No, you have to eat breakfast before school. You wasted your own time when it took you 20 minutes just to get out of bed this morning,” I pointed out to him. “You’re just going to have to play video games later when you have more time.” And while we all got ready to leave the house, he lay on the floor and sulked until we left.
I think my biggest pet peeve is the arguing that goes on over things that we have to do. Once a week I have to go grocery shopping. It never changes. If we want to eat, we have to have food. But tell that to my son and he moans and groans like I am extracting one of his teeth, and even produces a bit of tears. I have taken to scheduling my grocery shopping at times that aren’t that convenient for me (during lunch breaks or right before I pick them up after work) just because dealing with the inevitable tantrum is much more stressful. The house has to be clean. If I want peace of mind, the table needs to be cleared, the toys need to be put away, and their pigsty of a room needs to have a little bit of order so that I can get to their drawers and put their clean clothes away without killing myself on a Lego landmine. But it takes twice as long to get them to clean as I have to urge them both to keep going and not murder each other in the process. After breaking up fight after fight between them as they attempt a task they really don’t want to do, it’s hard not to succumb to just telling them they’re done and just finishing it myself. Or, more often than not, just living with the mess.
“Bedtime is at 9 pm.”
“Wash your hands after you eat.”
“For Pete’s sake, will you please tie your shoe?!”
“Homework is to be done BEFORE you play with your friends. Yes, all of it!”
“Do not eat your snack in the living room.”
“Your school lunch needs to have something more than a granola bar and a Capri-Sun.”
“You need to wear underwear if you are going to school.”
“Will you please stop doing somersaults in the grocery store aisle?”
“Stop sitting on your brother.”
“Can you please stop changing every word to the song on the radio to ‘poop’ or ‘butt’?”
“It’s after 11 am. Can you please wear something around the house besides your underwear and a blanket?”
“Why? Because I said so.”
Those are the words that used to make me cringe the most in my childhood days. “Because I said so.”
“Crissi, clean your room right now!” my mother would order as she surveyed clothes and books over what might have been a floor had it been visible.
“But why?” I would ask. “It’s my room! I’m the one who has to live in it!”
“Because I said so.”
And after that, I would take my sweet time cleaning, grumbling the whole time, doing a halfhearted job of it so that it looked like I had made a little progress, but also so it was clear that I wasn’t going to do a great job just because my mom wanted me to.
Arguing is ingrained in us. It’s part of our nature. Tell anyone to do something, and their immediate reaction is to rebel, to argue the point, to harbor resentment that someone is even trying to control our movements. Once a kid gets to the wonderful age of the terrible twos (or its even worse cousin – the tumultuous threes), they learn that they have an opinion, and it is usually opposite of yours. For the very short window of time before that, these precious little beings went along with everything their parent told them. As far as they are concerned, you hung the moon. They will follow you to the ends of the earth. After that, however, they come to the realization that they don’t have to go along with everything you say.
It all goes downhill from there.
At ages 2 & 3, kids are so into their newfound independence that they will say NO to anything you say just so that they can assert themselves. By age 4, they understand that they can make a choice based on what they want. Sometimes that goes inline with what you want. Sometimes it doesn’t. But the idea behind their decisions isn’t based on just defying your wishes, it’s an actual calculated decision that they are even willing to discuss with you. It’s a heavenly age for a child, and it continues for a couple of years. But right around age 8, they revert back in time and start questioning anything that gets in the way of their own freedom – the freedom to have scummy teeth, dirty hands, and time to play with their friends or their toys. And once they hit their teenage years, they are age 2 all over again, fighting anything that you say just because you said it. Except this time you’re an idiot and couldn’t possibly be wise enough to know what they are thinking about or doing or what goes on with them and their friends. And when the apple of your eye starts questioning your authority over and over and over again, sometimes the only thing your exasperated mind can think of to say is, “because I said so.”
(In case you missed it, a repeat of a classic example of “the Taz” arguing with me:
So how do you get through the constant arguing that occurs between a parent and a kid? I know for me, I am so exhausted from having to put up a fight to get anything done around here. It’s draining. Things would go so much easier if the kids didn’t fight me on every single task I lay in front of them, especially since it’s not like these required tasks have changed. And yet, I fully understand what it feels like to not want to do something just because it was ordered to me. Any other parents have ideas on how to change the arguing to actual agreement, or can even relate to the constant power struggles between adults and kids?