When our 8-year-old son, Connor, was chosen for our local Little League All Star Team, our chests swelled with pride: our boy — an All Star .
And then, the realization hit that we would be devoting yet another month to practices and games, right when we thought we were granted a breather from an especially long spring season.
So, as a family, we prepared for the following that all Little League parents are far too familiar with:
- Ample cash for the concession stand : In order to pacify our daughter, Maddie, during games, it would require investing another portion of her college tuition toward hot dogs, popcorn, soda, and Ring Pops at the Snack Shack. Who needs an education when you have Big League Chew?
- The red clay : I’d hold no grudge against the clay if it stayed on the field or even made the occasional appearance on my son’s pants after sliding into home plate. Yet, somehow, this dirty matter wedges itself into every crevice of my life: my house, my car, my shoes, my lungs, my brain. It somehow even makes its way onto clothing I’ve never worn to the park. Excuse me, I believe I have something in my eye: oh, it’s red clay. Guess I’ll wash it out with some red clay.
Photo courtesy of Lydia Teague Photography
- Spending an uncomfortable amount of time perched on an aluminum slab: Stadium cushions become more and more of a beautiful, beautiful thought as my husband and I continue to age. A little extra back support would be great, too. And, while, we’re at it, we might as well just trade those bleachers for reclining chairs, complete with footrests.
- Buckets ‘o’ sunscreen : Okay, so sunscreen may not come by the bucket yet, but those aforementioned bleachers sure know how to attract that fiery orb in the sky, so keeping plenty of lotion on hand is always a good idea.
However, for all the time and money spent on hours at the ballpark, here’s another thing Little League parents may identify with: the nostalgia and the innocence of it all.
There’s something so incredibly sweet about watching the boys run to the field, smile when their names are called, and in unison, recite the Little League Pledge:
I trust in God
I love my country
And will respect its laws
I will play fair
And strive to win
But win or lose
I will always do my best
While the boys play ball, moms and dads host babies in their arms. Toddlers pitch camp just behind the bleachers as the bossier little ones direct play. The bigger kids wander just out of sight, but quickly coalesce to fetch foul balls. And more grandparents than you’d expect line the fences, still young and spry enough to handle a long outing in the sun.
In a time where it’s getting harder to bring families together, Little League remains this stalwart of multigenerational fun that somehow manages to stay mostly unchanged decade after decade.
Unlike watching pro sports, I found myself without a real care about who won or lost, or even how well Connor played. It was obviously nice to see him succeed, but bobbled balls are little metaphors for life’s trials and there’s as much beauty watching a kid try, fail, and try again as there is in the arc of a ball crushed to left.
We would love to hear about your “love” of the game in the comments below or join our discussion on our Facebook post! And don’t forget — the Little League World Series 2016 begins in Williamsport, PA on August 18.
Will you be watching? You can bet we will!
xo ~ kristi