By: Erin Taylor
“I’ll be back in five minutes. Will you be ok while I’m gone?” I asked my seven year old. “Yeah, Mommy – I got this” he replied.
I was pulling into the parking lot for his first baseball game of the season last year when I remembered that I had forgotten to bring the required $20 for his after-game snacks. I had to go to the ATM to get cash; I felt comfortable leaving him with his coaches and the team mom, who was a friend of mine, and my son felt confident about going to the dugout by himself. So I watched him walk there and then drove to the bank to get the snack money. When I arrived back a few minutes later, the game was just beginning but I did not see him out on the field. As I walked closer, I saw one lone little boy sitting on the bench in the dugout slumped over holding his face in a towel. While I was gone, as the team was warming up in the outfield, one of the boys threw a ball into the air, my son didn’t see it and it came down and smashed him right on the bridge of his nose, causing a double bloody nose. This sent him into hysteria, and the team mom (my friend) quickly ushered him into the dugout to tend to his bloody nose. When I arrived, he was slumped over, deflated, in pain and covered from his shirt to his cleats in blood. He did not play in that game at all and needless to say, this did not leave him with a positive feeling about baseball. All during the season, he was afraid – to catch the ball, to hit the ball, to stand in the batter’s box – and as a result he did not want to play baseball last year. After careful consideration, I decided that he really should play again because if he walked away from the game because of fear, I was concerned it would give him the impression that walking away when he is afraid is what he can or should do in life. I wanted him to play at least until he was no longer afraid of the ball. After I explained my concern to him, he agreed to play one more season but then we agreed he could decide moving forward if he wanted to continue. During the winter between that season and last season, we set him up to work with a private coach to help him get over his fear of the ball, and for the most part, it was successful. This past spring, he got a little more comfortable hitting the ball and trying to field it, but I could tell his fear was still there, so I wanted him to play just one more season (this one coming up). Plus this fall, he has made tremendous leaps in his hand-eye coordination and I think his experience of the game would be completely different and much more fun for him this year. When I brought it up to him, he was adamant that he did not want to play. We have discussed it several times and the last time I brought it up, he very firmly said to me “Mom, you told me I only had to play one more season and then I could make my own choice. If you force me to play this year, I will never trust you again.”
Wow – message heard loud and clear, Little Buddy.
After that comment, I decided that I would not bring up playing baseball again, but not before looking deep within myself. I played softball growing up and my 13 year old son loves to play baseball. As my friend John O’Sullivan says, I get such joy just from watching my kids play. So I am very aware that I have an attachment to my boys playing baseball, but I certainly did not want to force my son to play baseball because of my own agenda. So after carefully contemplating my feelings, I decided to delete the email with the sign-up information and let it go.
And therein lies the heart of conscious parenting; I would love it if my son actually enjoyed playing baseball, but he doesn’t. And I still don’t want him to walk away when a small amount of fear lingers. But as a conscious parent, I know it is my job to truly see him for who he is and honor the fact that he just does not want to play. Last season was the time to push and this season is the time to back off.
So this spring, you will not see me at my 9-year-old’s baseball game. You will, however, find me at my 13-year-old’s game:)