In early January, our local Little League sign ups were announced. My four year old son, Chip, just made the age cut-off for T-ball in the 4-6 year old division. In general observation of Chip, he seems to be something of a natural athlete and has been playing catch and batting at balls for…Several months? A year? I don’t know, I haven’t particularly kept track. Interestingly, other parents seem to comment on Chip’s athleticism to his father and myself. But, I guess parents comparing their kids to other kids is a cultural epidemic and probably best handled in a separate post.
Chip’s father played in our Little League as a child and said he didn’t start until he was about eight. I was very involved in sports myself and didn’t play team soccer until about that age too. Speaking of soccer, Chip qualified for AYSO this past fall but was adamant after being asked on several occasions that he did not want to play. Fine, I figured being barely four still left him many, many seasons to play soccer if he ever wanted to. As the deadline for Little League approached, both my husband and I asked Chip if he wanted to play T-ball. He made it abundantly clear that he “DID NOT” want to play. When pressed as to why, he always said, “I don’t want to wear the uniform.” Ok, that’s a bit unusual. Normally that’s the kid’s favorite part, right?
So, what was I to do? He is only four years old, I’m fairly certain his MLB career chances don’t hinge on his toddler season. I don’t *think* I follow any particular parenting principles and try to use logic and maybe a bit of my “gut feeling”. Thus, there I was the night before the deadline, signing Chip up online for T-ball. I figured that if it really was something he refused to do, we’d just be out the cash. My husband played semi-pro ball and he and Chip LOVE watching games on TV. I LOVE the Boston Red Sox and any team that beats the New York Yankees. As a family, I felt we were on board with the sport. I went ahead and clicked the box on the form that said “parents willing to assist coach” (why, remains a mystery, really), entered my credit card number and clicked “confirm”. Just like that, Chip was signed up for T-ball--against my better judgment.
My husband and I agreed we’d start to talk up T-ball and not make a big deal out of it. There were still about six weeks to go until Opening Day. Then a phone call came, I took it. The league needed more T-ball coaches. I cut a deal with the coordinator, I knew a friend’s son who had also signed up…Could Chip be on his team so he’d know someone? I also explained my concern that Chip might not make it. Turned out my friend’s husband had signed up to coach. I muffled the phone and asked my husband if he would be up for assisting? We had the deal set. This seemed hopeful. If dad was on the field, wouldn’t that smooth everything out? We went into watchful waiting mode. Chip was game to buy some cleats and a new glove. Positive signs.
The first practice session arrived and Chip was thrilled to be there! Opening Day was rained out on the Saturday and postponed one week. But the first game was played the next day. Chip suited up, loved his uniform and was joining the echoes of America’s Pastime! After the game he was so happy and I was able to unload my doubts about my game day decision back in early January. Opening day was this past weekend and Chip standing with his team and all the teams ranging from the tiny four year old T-ballers on up to the big teenagers was a major event. They ran the bases and through a tunnel of high-fives from the big kids. What a thrill! Then Chip was told he had his second game the next day. He fell over in pure joy, unable to believe his good fortune. Ok, it looks like I didn’t screw up. This time.
Article first published as I Signed My Kid Up For T-Ball Against His Will on Technorati.