Today was the first day of practice for the first team sport--the first organized sport--that Woody has ever played.
I couldn't take him. I asked Daddy Honey to go. I'm sure I would have done fine, but given the option to sit at home and fret rather than sit on the bleachers pretending not to fret with other parents who had done this for years already, I chose to chicken out.
Plus, my eyes teared up a little bit and my heart swelled to see him all dressed up and ready to go play. I needed to sit a bit with that feeling.
I was worried. I was worried that my always-unschooled, happy-go-lucky, sensitive, and belovedly oddballish boy would get teased, or looked at weird, or worse, torn down.
I'm not going to lie to you. I invited some unkind and prejudiced thoughts about the other parents into my mind. I have heard horror stories all year of Fayetteville baseball parents, and I may have heeded a bit too closely to the particularly nasty ones. I was playing out hypothetical scenarios where tucked-shirt, crew-cut, angry-faced dads yelled at my gleeful, silly, wooly-headed boy. In my mind, I was a witty, biting, verbally deadly hero who put the jerks in their places, and things did not end well for the imaginary dads. But even in one's own mind, one cannot fail to notice how such aggressive defenses contribute to rather than alleviates one's own child's inevitable hurt, confusion, embarrassment, and disappointment. I was that kid. I stopped participating in such activities and stopped telling my dad about my woes rather than risk the social torture of seeing his loose-cannon confrontations.
Clearly, I need to practice imagining myself being assertive and graceful. And a little change of perspective wouldn't hurt. But meanwhile, I am glad for Daddy Honey's willingness to witness his son's brave new endeavor. Woody was the only kid on the team who had never played baseball before (see the thing about Fayetteville? seven year old starters are behind. the other kids are veterans at age 5.), but Daddy Honey said he stuck it out the whole practice, was focused and content, and started catching balls toward the end. He had a really good time, and came home full of stories. When he couldn't remember anything else to tell me, he said, "Ask me questions so we can keep talking about it." There's a weeknight practice this coming week, then another Saturday one that I am going to have to do since Daddy Honey's working.
I draw from my childhood Catholic roots sparingly, and though increasingly through my Unitarian Universalist involvement, they're becoming beautifully entangled with other sources of spiritual nourishment, this situation calls for a tap; I'll be asking Saint Ann, patron saint of mothers, for courage this week, and maybe for an extra dose of plucky resilience for my boy, just in case.