Monica J. Griffith

I am the proud mom of two sons. I am also a lover of the game of baseball. When my boys were old enough to join a T-Ball Team, they were on it! I think baseball is a right-of-passage for a young boy. They are ready to put away the toys of babies and step into the shoes (and uniform) of the ‘heroes’ they see on television.

So came the day! My oldest is finally celebrated the birthday that would welcome him to the world of baseball and team. There is absolutely no question in my mind that I was much more excited about him joining the park district T-Ball team than he was! I am blessed that my boys then (and now) try to do everything they can to please their mama!

So, there we were – me and my boys – ready for that day when we showed up to the field, ready to find out who would be the lucky dad to coach my oldest in his first T-Ball team. I was absolutely giddy!

Uniforms consisted of a team tee-shirt, white ball pants, a cap and tennis shoes. Except, of course, my son had cleats! The caps and shirts were distributed as the Team Coaches called names for the boys on their teams. The older boys, no longer playing T-Ball, seemed fairly organized. Tee-Ball could be described in one word: chaos! Team Moms volunteered to bring snacks as the schedule was distributed. The Coaches were busy trying to talk to each boy and the boys were busy kicking dirt, picking weeds/flowers and wanting to know how long they had to be in the hot sun. It was awesome (for me!)!

The boys and I were faithful in attending all the practices and games and cheering the team on! T-Ball was a great way for the boys to learn the game of baseball and teamwork and sticking with a commitment. Another foundational learning for the game of life!
It seems that all too soon, they were ready for the ‘big leagues’ as they called it! On team assignment day, we were now the ‘organized’ group of Moms, Dads and kids. The same excitement filled the air and now I had one in T-Ball and one in the Junior League. I was in absolute heaven! Two boys playing ball. Little did I know, they would be playing on the same day but sometimes at different times on different fields or different parks. Welcome to the world of parental juggling!

All seemed to be going well, we were making all practices and I attended most games – alternating teams when needed. Then one day, my oldest decided he no longer wanted to play. This was in the middle of the short season and I couldn’t understand why he would no longer want to be part of a great team in my favorite sport! After much coaxing, the reason for his sudden desire to quit came out.

“Mom”, he said, “I can’t run fast enough. I hit the ball and they always get me out. I don’t like to run and I’m not fast. It’s not fun when I always get out.”

What a conundrum! He liked the team and loved his coaches, but the game is not fun when you don’t feel you are contributing. What’s a mom to do? I think this may have been my first real experience at being a coach – asking questions to help him discover how to play the game to win. Let me share with you our conversation:

Mom: Son, you are right – it’s not fun when you always get out. I’m not a fast runner either, so I get it. Sometimes, it makes me sad when I can’t get to where I’m going. So, you do hit the ball, right?
Son: Oh, I can hit it. I always hit, I just can’t run. They always get me out.
Mom: Hmmm…so if you can only run so fast – is there anything else you could do to get on base?
Son: Well…I guess I could hit harder! Then, if the ball goes way out in the field, I wouldn’t have to worry about running so fast and I could get to base. Do you think that would work?
Mom: That sounds like a pretty good plan! You are a pretty strong guy, do you think you can hit the ball harder?
Son: Yeah, I’m pretty sure I can. Maybe if I can hit it really hard, I can get to 2nd base! And then, if the next kids hit hard, I can make it home. Wouldn’t that be awesome?
Mom: Yes – that would be wonderful. And you know what? I think you’re awesome and that you are figuring it out!
Son: Walks away with a smile and nodding his head. I can see the wheels spinning in his head as he is figuring out how to make this happen.

Now it’s game time. Of course I am on pins and needles. Is he ready? Will the stars align and allow him to get on base? How do I encourage him from the stands without putting more pressure on him? Apparently, he had talked to his coach about his plan because as he approached the batter’s box I heard his (incredible) coach yell: Swing for the fences, kiddo, swing for the fences! What is he talking about? Oh my! I looked way out past the outfielders and saw it – the fences. Is he kidding? Way out there?

CRACK! What was that? Oh my, it was the crack of the bat hitting the ball with such force the sound momentarily silenced the crowd. And then I saw it…the ball soaring out – out- out past the fences! We are all on our feet, cheering, yelling, clapping and (me)tearing up! He did it! Look at him, grinning from ear to ear! Jogging around the bases all alone – home run! And the team, a bench clearing to welcome him home.

He figured it out, he shared his plan with his coach who fully supported him and encouraged him to play the game his way. That is how he played the rest of the season – swinging for the fences!

We are not playing baseball anymore. Now, we are all playing ‘The Game of Life’. How are you playing your game? If you are not enjoying your game, are there adjustments you are willing to make to score your home run? What are you willing to shift? Where will you take aim? Take a look – do you see the fences?