This week, my son and I offer two views of the same event. My viewpoint is is first; Noah wrote his own version.
Winter coat? Check. Scarf, gloves and hat? Check. Thick socks? Book? Travel mug of hot tea? Checkity, check, check.
“Play ball!” I said to the kid in front of me.
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The kid rolled his eyes and grabbed the backpack with two bats stuck in the sides like gigantic bug antennae. He flopped a tattered hat on his curls and cleat-clomped out the front door with me in tow.
I rolled my own eyes like I do every time he finds that ball cap despite my attempts to make it unfindable.
“Nice hat.” My sarcasm was unmistakable. So was the indifference in his shoulder shrug.
How did it get to be baseball season? It sure didn’t feel like it. That day was sweater, not sweaty, weather: Scattered showers! Wind chill in the low 40s!
And he played the whole time.
I’ve read a lot of books during my tenure as a baseball parent. Practices are boring and I want to be present … while not, you know, actually BEING present. But that cold evening was my first of the season; I wanted to watch the goofball kid who overlooks the mess in his room not miss a thing on the field.
It’s not that cold, I thought while I followed behind him at the park. I can make it outside through a two-hour practice maybe without reading; I will be the mom who watches practice. (cue victorious music.)
I took my chilly spectator seat while he warmed up.
I put on my winter hat.
The boys ran the bases.
I took a picture of my view and posted it on Facebook.
The coaches talked to the players.
I put on my gloves and tightened a scarf around my face.
The boys played, whooped and smiled, then came to the dugout next to me to get their ball gloves.
“How’s it going, Noah?”
“Great! Wait…,” he looked at me: I was standing, tote bag on my shoulder. The wind of mama-guilt was almost stronger than the northerly one that had cooled my tea and chilled me deeply.
“Aren’t you going to stay?”
In my head I said a comforting, “No dear, I’ll be right over there in the car watching.”
But my mouth released, “Are you crazy?”
He grabbed his glove, made a fake puppy-lost face at me and ran off. I looked at my watch — I had made it a whole 30 minutes.
“Aren’t you gonna stay?” I said to my cold as heck Mom.
“Are you crazy?!” replied my mom with a snort and smirk. I walked off all fake “Cat’s and the Cradle” like, but really I couldn’t care less when I grabbed my gear and headed out to make a few plays at shortstop. I made sure my hat didn’t blow off — it’s lucky, my dad gave it to me. I glanced over to see my mom disappear into our car, I think she had a book. Whatevs. She’s doing what she loves and so am I: playing baseball.
Baseball builds character, but also reveals character. That’s why it’s my all-time favorite sport. When I step onto the field I get this jolt of confidence and power. I think it’s something many people long to have. I had it at practice when I felt the sting of the glove when our rock solid pitcher drilled me. I was glad it wasn’t a hitting practice because my hands would still be stung.
We started our infield/outfield show (good-luck, Storm, because here we come). When I stood in the left field corner there was the rancid smell of porta-potty and nachos. Sounds pleasant, right? It was nasty but it’s weird, I liked it. Nice.
My first grounder I bobbled it, but I recovered and made a strong throw to first base. Nice.
When I got into the car I didn’t even bother asking my Mom what she was doing the whole time. I know. I turned on the radio — it’s my jam, “Me, Myself, and I.”
Susan and Noah Vollenweider live in Smithville. 11 year- old Noah now knows the thrill of writing a first-person narrative (and the intricacies of what an editor does to grammar and tense mistakes.) To listen to the women’s history podcast Susan co-hosts or read more of her writing visit www.thehistorychicks.com or www.susanvollenweider.com.