T had his first T-ball practice yesterday.
He was excited all day. He wore his Reno Aces hat to school in preparation.
I left work early so we could make it to the field on time.
Who schedules these things at 5pm – when a lot of people are just getting off work at that time? This was my first annoyance.
When we got there, the other kids were already learning how to hold the ball correctly. It wasn’t even 5 yet.
My second annoyance.
We introduced ourselves to the team manager and the coach. Both of these men were very friendly, getting down on T’s level to talk to him and introducing him to the team. Apparently most of the kids were on the same team last year, so they all pretty much knew each other.
T didn’t want to go on the field with the other kids without me, so I stood next to him as he threw a ball back and forth with one of the other kids. The coach came and showed him how they wanted him to hold it way back and then throw (easier to show than write) the ball. He seemed to get the hang of it and threw it pretty far.
The kids did this for a while, and then they practiced catching ground balls. This is where it got tough for T. He didn’t want to try catching, because he wanted to bat. He misunderstood what going to T-ball practice meant. He thought he was going to get to play baseball. He wanted to bat.
I talked to him about learning to throw and catch, and that they’d bat at another practice. He got upset. It was freezing, so that made him even more grumpy. The coach did his part to try and get T interested, but he had a dozen other kids to deal with.
At the end of the thirty minute practice, the coach got the team together in a little huddle to talk about what they’d learned. He encouraged them to practice with their parents if they could, and he reminded the parents to get their sweatshirt orders in. Then all the kids put their hands in to do one of those “Go Team” things sports people always do. T stood at the outside of the circle, confused.
Here’s what I like. The coach took it upon himself to tell T what to do. He told him to join them – he made T feel like part of the team.
After we were in the car, rubbing our hands together and waiting for the heater to kick in, I asked T what he thought of T-ball.
“I like it but I want to hit the ball. And it’s too cold.”
So I explained to him that he has to learn the proper way to catch and throw the ball, because that is as much a part of the game as hitting the ball off the tee is. He told me that he’ll participate more next week. I feel more confident about next week, because now he knows what to expect.
We both went in, not knowing what to expect. I wasn’t prepared at all. T doesn’t even have a mitt because it didn’t occur to me that he would need one. Luckily, another dad there had an extra one that he let T borrow.
I have my complaints. But they are all so minor, that it doesn’t even really matter.
The important thing, was that T now knows what to expect when he goes to practice next week. And, I didn’t force him to take part in the practice activities. I encouraged him, but told him that T-ball was his choice. If he wanted to play, then he would have to practice. If he decided he didn’t want to do it, then that was fine. But he had to stay on the field because he’d already made that commitment.
It turned out well. Neither one of us broke down, the coach was really nice and encouraging. Nobody told him he had to do the activities.
But we’re going next week. And now that he knows what to expect, it might go a little better.
And he’s really exciting about going to get his own mitt this weekend!