Little League lessons

Little League Lessons

“I can’t even look at you. You disgust me,” he shouted, before storming away, red-faced and sweaty.

I couldn’t believe my ears. Words usually reserved for a cheating lover were instead aimed at an eight-year-old boy on the practice field. From the coach’s mouth to a little boy’s ears. Not a one-off occurrence, either.

I started attending practices after noticing a change in my son’s behavior during baseball games and at home. He’d been playing baseball since he was four. I struggled with how to handle the situation. Helicopter parents we were not, and we were firm believers in sports being a metaphor for life. Some people in life suck, kid. Adapt, or live your days in misery.

But this was different. This was extreme.

I knew I wasn’t overreacting. All I had to do was keep an ear out on the sidelines to hear the whispers of concerned parents. I heard stories from neighbours about the fighting from within the coach’s four walls. I heard stories from the PTA parents about classroom tantrums – from the coach.

Some people in life suck, kid. Adapt, or live your days in misery.

And I saw it with my own eyes. One of the best indicators of how well a coach treats his players is how well a coach treats the umps. The hat of my son’s coach was worn and dusty from the times he’d thrown it down and stomped on it after a call he disagreed with.

But we insisted our son finish the season. Life lessons, and all that.

“You wanna say the f-word?” I asked him on the ride home after a particularly demoralising loss.

What?!” He looked at me in shock. Two white streaks ran down his face where the tears had removed the dust from the field.

“I won’t be mad if you do. Just this once. Just say, ‘Fuck that.’”

“Really?”

“Really.”

Fuck that.” Giggles.

“Fuck that,” I echoed in agreement.

He never went back to baseball. He plays lacrosse now, and he’s damn good at it. Things have a funny way of working out sometimes. Life lessons, and all that.

I’m happy to report the coach is no longer allowed to coach.

Life lessons.

Kelsey Zander is a freelance writer from Portland, Oregon (USA). While her main focus is tech, she sometimes writes about more tangible things: her kids. You can visit her website at www.kelseyzander.com.





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