A friend told me a story recently about a little boy on her son’s baseball team.
Or, maybe it is a little closer to home than that.
As the story goes, a few practices ago my friend saw the mom yelling at her son every time she thought he wasn’t moving fast enough or paying close enough attention to the coach. Over and over again. Every word yelled in his direction from her tightened lips sliced through the chain link fence in a discouraging tone, and was followed by a terse, agitated sigh.
At a recent game, the boy struck out again and again and again. The bat may have chirped with a infinitesimal tip, but he struck out every, single time at bat. After his final attempt, he headed for the dugout with his head hanging low and his bat dragging through the dirt. Before he barely stepped foot off of the field, he was met by the loud call of his father who advanced upon the dugout fence and demanded his son exit to speak to him.
His dad then proceeded to yell, eyes full of vehement hatred, at his seven or eight year old son because he didn’t hit the ball. He angrily scolded him, barking that he needs to practice more. As they left the ball park that night, the boy was overheard asking his dad if he thought he would get a trophy at the end of the season. The dad replied loathingly,
“If it is a participation trophy, I will throw it away.”
Now, my friend does not know the child, nor do I. Perhaps, he is the most difficult boy ever to embark upon the sport of baseball. Maybe he disobeys his parents from sun up to sun down. Perhaps, he hits and screams at his parents. Maybe he recently played with matches and burnt their house down.
I do not know.
But are any of those valid reasons to hatefully admonish and embarrass your child for failing at a sport when they are trying? Or even if they aren’t trying?
As I understand it, this particular child is on the verge of quitting because he hasn’t been able to make contact with the ball.
It is possible he could use a little more practice, as his father suggests. Or, perhaps he is too used to trying to dodge venomous words and that if his parents stopped screaming at him with every misstep in little league base ball he might actually hit the ball.
Maybe every time the ball approaches his bat he cringes at the thought of failure and the resulting tongue lashing from the two people who are supposed to love him the most.
Our world has no room for vehemence and hatred, but somehow these two parents have carved out a space for it in little league baseball. There shouldn’t be any space left from the joyful learning, hard work, encouragement, grace, love, forgiveness and coaching, but they found a dark hole in which to put it.
Do you think that young boy lies in his bed every night believing he is a hated failure?
Hugs to him and to all of those babies who are doing their best to learn a sport and to love being part of a team.
And, to the mom and dad who are doing it all wrong: Just remember, you should love to watch him play and if you don’t then you might be in it for the wrong reason. And, as I understand it, my friend might just talk to you about that. She is already praying for you.
P.S. I always like to fulfill my mission of repairing the mama brain, but instead of offering up a knowledge nugget for you to learn please take the learning time and use it to pass this post along. Because this is what little league baseball should look like: