Saturday, February 23, 2008

Red Clay

I got into my car after work on Thursday and when I turned around to check for other cars before backing out, I noticed something in my back seat that had never been there before.

Red clay.

Yes, folks - as of Wednesday night, I have become a Baseball Mom.

Darling Man's family are all baseball freaks. His older brother still plays in a senior league. His younger brother could have gone pro except for a rotator cuff injury that ended his ballplaying career. Darling Man himself can't count the number of years he spent crouched down behind home plate with a cage over his face. And of course there's their father, who coached little league since the dinosaurs were young. He doesn't coach anymore, but he spent a few years as a stats man and he still goes to watch the high schoolers play.

With this genetic heritage, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that ZBoy decided he wanted to try playing baseball too. I was surprised that he decided to do it this year. After all, he hadn't shown much interest in playing catch and only occasionally thought about swinging a bat. He doesn't know the rules except for very generally. But when he said he wanted to play, Darling Man took him out to the fields and signed him up.

Wednesday was his first practice.

The kids were all between 7 and 10 years old. Some were absolutely tiny, some were tall. All of them had played at least one year, and some of them had been swinging bats since they could stand up. It kind of made us feel like baseball slackers, but Zboy was game anyway.

It started at 6:20 with the coach meeting all the parents and the kids. He sent them out into the field to warm up by throwing balls back and forth. We let him know that Z had no experience at all playing ball, so the coach and the assistant coach spent some extra time with him showing him how to throw and how to catch.



When they took to the diamond, they practiced running bases, throwing the ball from the mound to first, and between the bases. Then came batting practice. The tiny guys with their gloves and personal helmets and big attitudes awed the dads, who clapped each other on the back and bragged about the non-existant batting zone (distance between elbows and knees on the hitter). There were a few sluggers too, and a few who had trouble coming even close to the ball. While the batter was trying to connect with the ball, the rest of the team was out in the field and rotated around as different kids tried batting.


ZBoy, for all his enthusiasm, became a little bored and discouraged. He was busy as a backup catcher, then had nothing to do when he had to go to center field. There was a flurry of activity when one of the batters actually connected, another kid caught the ball and threw a quick and accurate out to first. Z took all this in, and then removed his glove and began doing KenPo one pinan right there in the outfield. It was perfect. After his final bow, he picked up his glove and paid attention to the practice again.

I elbowed Darling Man during that little display and we wondered what was going through his head as he did it. I think he was feeling a little out of his depth - and wanted to remember something he was actually very good at. So he did his pinan, boosted his self-confidence, and finished his practice much more engaged.

When the batting was finally over, they ran bases a couple more times and called it a night. It was quarter of 8. The full moon was high and beginning to look a bit lopsided.


We headed home, got a light dinner, and went back outside. There are lots of trees around the house, and the only place to actually see the eclipse was in the road. So we went back and forth into and out of the road whenever a car came. We watched as the shadow of the earth took a bite out of the moon.

ZBoy was feeling a little nervous about it. Said it looked scary. And I reminded him that this wasn't his first eclipse. In fact, he'd seen one when he was very young and lived to see another.

"I did?" he asked.

Oh, yeah. ZBoy didn't sleep through the night until he was four years old.

It was a cold night, and Darling Man was gone out of town working on some sporting event and I was home alone with a toddler who was fussing. He was clean and dry and well fed, but didn't want to stay asleep. I knew there was an eclipse that night and after he woke me up after midnight, I decided to stay up and watch. I lifted my fussy child and wrapped us both in a blanket and took him outside to the deck. The cold on his face quieted him and he looked up into the sky at the dim stars and the bright full moon. We sat there like that, listening to the night and watching the shadow of the earth move over the moon. When the moon was dark, the stars grew brighter and then began to fade again as the moon moved out of the shadow again.

A small sigh and I realized that my boy had snuggled his face into the warmth and fallen asleep. I carried him back in and put him to bed and we both slept through the rest of the night.

"That was a great night, huh, Mom?" Z said. I knew he couldn't remember it, but he remembered the feeling of snuggling in a blanket on the front porch on cold nights. We did it often enough when he was small. It calmed him like nothing else.

When the eclipse was complete and moon was dark, the stars brightened - and it was ten o'clock. There was school the next day, so we called it a night. ZBoy came in, calm and smiling. He took the blanket from around his shoulders and the worries about not being able to play as well as his teammates seemed to come off as well. He thanked us for letting him stay up to watch the eclipse and headed off to bed - to sleep through the night like a toddler who knows all is right with the world.

1 comment:

karisma said...

What lovely memories and new beginnings. This reminded me of when my girls were little and Cameragirl played Tball for the first time. She was standing out there in the out field checking out her nail polish, while the rest of the team yelled at her to catch the ball. "Yeah in a minute she calmly tells them all, while the batter took a home run!" (She was six or seven at the time LOL) Funnily enough they ended up winning the Grand Final and she came home with two very large trophies. She did learn to catch that ball after all.

Now if only my boys took an interest in Baseball. I loved watching. No they had to go for the motorcycles and give me a weekly heart attack instead. Wanna swap?