One of the gifts that comes with being a baseball parent for a few years is the ability to say with absolute certainty that “this too shall pass.” If your kid plays beyond one or two seasons, then change…for better (and for worse, sometimes) is guaranteed.
As a ball field mom for over a decade, I can make a few predictions about your youngster, even if I’ve never met him or her. Assuming that your kid keeps showing up, hustling and taking direction…..
- He won’t always be at the bottom of the batting order.
- He won’t always be the three hole hitter either.
- She won’t always have the highest ERA on the team.
- She won’t always have the lowest ERA either.
- Eventually he’ll grow out of those tearful meltdowns on the mound. It won’t happen overnight and yelling at him and embarrassing him won’t make it happen any faster.
- Ya know that batting slump your son is in? He’ll probably work out of it just as suddenly and mysteriously as he fell into it. Slumps aren’t fatal, even though we often think they are. (Just make sure he hasn’t unknowingly changed something about his swing.)
- She probably won’t always be the shortest or tallest girl on the team. Growth spurts can be the strangest, most random things. And her playing ability can be directly affected by growing a couple inches.
- With every success, regardless of how minor, his or her confidence will grow. Applaud those small successes 50 times more than you mention their mistakes.
- That jerk of a coach won’t be in your kid’s life forever. With travel, rec, school and all-star teams, your player will have a couple dozen coaches. Some will be great. Others, not so much. Dealing diplomatically and humbly with a difficult authority figure is part of being a well-rounded person. That’s a good lesson in itself.
- Roller coaster hormones can seriously affect your preteen’s attitude, ability and confidence. If your typically stoic player is mentally falling apart during a game, or a few games, just remember you weren’t the most rational kid 100% of the time either.
- Your kid won’t always be as in love with baseball as he is right now.
- Your kid won’t always hate baseball as much as he does right now.
- Remember that pitcher? The huge kid from the 10u Thunder who threw a no-hitter off your team? You’ll see him a year or so later and your boys might all be taller than he is and hitting all his best stuff with ease. (I’ve seen it happen before.)
- One bad outing doesn’t determine anything. So what. She had six pass balls as catcher today. Next week, she could make the game-winning tag.
- Getting cut from one team doesn’t necessarily decide your kid’s talent or ability. The star lefty pitcher on my son’s high school team got cut from his travel team a year ago because one person thought he was “uncoachable.”
- Just because your seven-year-old spent the whole Little League season jumping out of the batter’s box with every pitch, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t sign him up next year if he wants to keep playing. If he continues to work, I guarantee you, he won’t still be scared to face a pitcher a few months from now. And what a great day it’ll be when he finally connects with the ball. That’s the stuff that confidence is made of.
- If your kid is a natural athlete and everything comes easy to him, the day will come when it doesn’t. He’ll eventually struggle, but it probably won’t last either.
- Just because your kid started playing baseball a couple years later than everyone else, it doesn’t mean he’ll always be behind. My son lost his starting shortstop position to the boy who, two years earlier, was grateful just to get to practice with their team, not even earning a spot until another boy moved away. But until then, his dad kept bringing him to every practice. I know many parents who wouldn’t want to bother if their kid didn’t have a spot on the team, but his dad did. And now, five years later, he’ll be a freshman starter on his high school varsity team. What if his dad had said it was too late and wasn’t worth the trouble?
- Kids are always changing, physically and mentally. That dugout clown the coaches are always losing patience with could have a maturity growth spurt and be the team captain one day not too far in the future.
- Please don’t waste your time complaining and being resentful about all the hours you’re spending in the car and at the ball field. Your kid is growing and changing fast. Before you know it you’ll have your weekends back to do anything you want with them. This spring, my oldest son will have his license and be driving himself to practice and games. (I’ll still be in the stands.) No more smelly cleats in my backseat or finding his athletic cup in the drink cup holder. (Yes, I’m wiping away tears as I type this.)
- Enjoy who they are today. Love them for the individual they are right this second. Life happens too fast to get hung up on something that’s most likely temporary.
Got any stories about how your kid’s game has changed over the years? Please share them in the comments. As always, thanks so much for reading my posts.