So Walter continues to play Little League Baseball and to our delight he’s very gifted little boy. The kid can roll. He’s hinder by the fact he’s played only about 20 games and most the time has no idea what is going on. He loves it though and is catching on. Recently Walter has been struggling with focusing as most 8 year olds do but Walter has the added emotional weight of all the “legal” shit that’s going on now. He’s not seeing his BM nearly as much as he used to and though that is best for him the transition has been hard. His moods and behavior have been good. He’s working very hard, his concentration is just off.
So I told him before his game last week that I wanted him to do one thing for me out there. I said, “I don’t care if you hit the ball, catch the ball or score. The ball can come to you and you can pick it up and throw it into the parking lot for all I care. I want you to face the batter and keep your glove on.” My little achiever did a great job and even ran over to the fence to ask me if I was “proud of his focus.” I acted like he used the force to pull the ship out of the swamp and praised him like I do. From that point on the coaches were very hard on him about not being in “ready position.” Meaning squatted down, glove on the field. I for one was happy with his progress but managed to keep my mouth shut. After the game one of the coaches gave Walter a hard time about focus and I again pulled him aside and praised him for his minimal progress told him to keep up the good/hard work.
So the next week at practice Walter belts one to the short stop and starts running towards first. The first baseman was blocking the bag. Walter slows down and gets called out. Coaches have been admonishing him for not “running over the first baseman” but Walter has confided in me that he’s worried he will hurt someone. I’ve told him if his fear of hurting someone out weighs his desire to be on base then slow down and get out. He needs to be ok with that though and the coaches will let him know they are not. I told him I’m proud of him no matter what he decides to do. So he gets called out at first and is running back to the dugout when an assistant coach reaches out grabs the face mask and jerks him around to face him. He gets up in his face and I can see him point in his face and jawwing. He let’s Walter go and wacks him in the side of the head with his glove. Not hard but a good whack none the less. Now I’m a cool dude but I got my own Walter running around inside me and I saw this guy grab my kid and I was ready to yell “OVER THE LINE!”
I ended up writing a email to the head coach and asking him to implement a hands off policy with my son. I told him I knew Walter’s focus was fluctuating but that he’s dealing with a lot and needs some time. I asked that the if the coaching staff has to be critical to try and end on an encouragement or positive note because he is so hyper sensitive especially now. I’ve talked to many friends and family about this since the incident happened and to be honest I’ve had a 50/50 split on people’s reactions. A lot say “that’s sports and he needs to get used to it.” Others say “This aggression will not stand.” Ironically these reactions are split between those with and without kids perfectly. Thos without the kids say “that’s how it is” friends with kids say, “hell no.”
Me? Fuck it. That’s like their opinion man. If my biggest mistake is being overprotective of Walter than I guess I’m going to make a big mistake. I understand that some people feel like sports gives people the right to act like complete ass hats but guess what? It’s like that because people don’t stand up and say “take it easy man.” I may be pissing up a tree and I’ve told Walter this sort of thing gets worse as we go and to get ready but fuck it. We tell the kids constantly to keep their hands to themselves, don’t bully, don’t be aggressive and then they get treated like this by coaches and told to “run over” other kids. It’s game people. Take it easy. 8 year olds dude, 8 year olds. I’d love to hear your thoughts.