Saturday, March 31, 2012

The curse of the game ball

The boys first T-ball game, I was ecstatic when the coach sat everyone down afterwards and announced to the whole team that he was awarding my Gavin the game ball. Totally elated. Until I looked past my smiling son to my frowning one, his twin, who was looking down at his feet, heartbroken that he did not win the coaches favor.

That moment completely changed the game for Breiden. It was no longer just about fun and hitting and running, but now baseball revolves entirely around getting that game ball. I am a competitive spirit- very driven by the need to win and out do. And I know that if controlled, this is a great quality to have because it pushes you. However, Breiden isn't being pushed by his desire for that precious game ball- it is paralyzing him. Somewhere in his little 3 year old mind, it is not clicking that the game ball isn't just given, it is earned. And so all his concentration does not go to playing anymore, he just stands in the field thinking about who will get the game ball at the end of the game.

I want him so badly to play, and Gavin for that matter too, because he as well has seemed to have lost focus on the game and just thinks about the prize. I want for them both to enjoy to just be playing and not just because of the ball. Like they did that very first game before they knew there was a possible reward at the end. The only time they seem to get that feeling now is when they run. That thoughtless moment where their only concentration is getting to the next base, and they love it.

But then back on the field, their feet become glued to the ground as their thoughts revolve not on catching the ball, but getting the game ball. And then there is the disappointment when their name is not called. They high five and clap for the kid who truly deserves the recognition, but then come to me with puppy eyes and sadly inform me they did not get it.

And so I hear, have heard, every week, all week long, how Breiden has not yet gotten a game ball. This past weeks practice he even ran up to the coach at the end and asked if he got the game ball for practice, which there is no such thing since practice is not a game. Today's game was another no go, with even less involvement from my boys when they took the field. The love for the game is still there, its just tainted by the looming possibility of a prize.

Its one of the reasons I want my kids to play sports. This kind of stuff is often more valuable when it comes to life skills then any book can be. (Although, we are really big on reading, too) Disappointment, pressure, expectation, all things I want my boys to know and handle. And then I have to walk on a wire as I help them figure it out while at the same time not completely killing their spirits. Did I mention that I am competitive? The whole gentile understanding is not a strong point... I am definitely more apt to be a pusher. I want to keep the flame ignited but yet not smothering it out completely.

Time for some real baseball.

Yes, you see that right, and no, we are not in Minnesota. The Twins spring training is in our area. And we happened to have tickets to today's game. Spark ignited.

Twins are quiet a hit at a Twins game. I had almost forgot I had this done when I was pregnant with the boys

Me 20 something weeks pregnant with the boys

Somehow, we had never taken the boys to a  Twins game. (Although we did go to a Tigers vs Red Socks last year). We can now add hot dogs and peanuts to things our boys associate with baseball. Whats a baseball game without a mustard stain?

This weeks mission- to break the curse of the game ball. We are going to play a little more and keep that flame lite till next Saturday. Praying that by then, maybe, possibly, they will just be excited to play, regardless of the prize.

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