As we move into a competitive summer 12u baseball season, I went back and read my lessons from two (2) years ago here. First of all, I must humbly admit that we haven’t mastered anything we learned during the summer of 2017. But we are constantly reminding ourselves of how to be better, while helping our kid be open to the lessons as well.
I read this recently and it hit home all over again. OMG, this could be us! Although our lessons may take a little longer than one or two conversations!
They are 12 years old. They are learning and growing through this – and most of all, the parents are still learning and growing through this. Most of us have to remember that the #1 intent of parents and kids is not to track college scholarships or MLB contracts but to play baseball.
I lost my patience recently with my 12 yr old. He has a tendency to blame the umps or the other coach when he suffers a team loss. We try to address it with push back and humor, but it hasn’t been a successful approach thus far.
About two weeks ago, there was a friendly home run derby competition at the ball fields. He was in the lead for a time and made it to the finals. The rules had been adjusted halfway through the event and he got to hit again, retaining his top 2 status. He started complaining about the rule change, I quickly silenced him. In the finals, 4 kids competed. My son didn’t score a single point in that round, finishing 4th out of the final four. He was a mess. He was fighting tears and after a few pictures, he stormed off ahead of me, crying back to the car.
I tried to talk to him and he just kept saying that “it wasn’t fair”. I assumed he was still upset about the rule change, but no, he clarified that the pitching machine was throwing bad pitches only to him. I was incredulous and (in not my finest mom moment) said “are you kidding me? Are you seriously trying to blame a pitching machine instead of your own misfires? Like it threw perfect pitches to 3 other kids and went haywire when it was your turn????” He got more upset and told me I didn’t understand.
So, I let it go. I wasn’t uber-understanding of his feelings at that moment, I was pissed at him for being unaccountable.
But it sparked a focus on both of us as to how we wanted to grow during this season. He’s a good sport on the field, he just doesn’t seem to handle disappointment while acknowledging some accountability. At least he doesn’t blame himself or his teammates, but I also want him to be more appreciative of the effort and understand that this is part of the journey.
He will lose many more games. He will strike out many more times. And I want him to keep his head up, using that frustration to fuel him to come back to fight again.
This past weekend, he had 5 games in about 48 hours. I knew much of it was going to go awry with just the level of tired that was going on. On Sunday, his travel team suffered a humbling loss followed up by an in-house (season-ending playoff) game that may have gone much differently if 50% of the team wasn’t so exhausted. He was upset after both games, but it had a different ring.
After the first loss, he got in the car and said “I did what I could with every opportunity and it was all I could do.”
After the second loss, he cried on the way to the car saying “this loss was all my fault. I had a chance to win the game and I blew it.” I asked if it was really fair to blame one player (himself) over the loss and he said “well, I’m making progress, at least I’m not blaming the umps”. Within 10 minutes, he was telling me about how he was taming a T-Rex in ARK (don’t ask).
I thought, okay, this is progress.
We are working on this. Every game, we work on our stress and remind ourselves that he loves this game. As parents, we still occasionally check our motivation, blood pressure and reactions to mistakes and calls. This is a game. This is a great game that can teach these boys about hard work, grace under pressure, team bonding and never giving in while also providing them with amazing memories.
Being a baseball mom is still teaching me every day how to be a better mom. And I’m looking forward to the lessons that still lie ahead.