I’m the Best

We’re back in the swing of softball season for both of my girls and the endless packing of bags, washing of uniforms and strategic planning of after-work driving routes back and forth across the county have ensued.

Lu is playing 8U softball (her last year of coach-pitch), while Bug is playing her first year of 6U (coach-pitch and some hitting off of a tee.) Both girls got lucky to be on teams with great coaches and so far we are having a great time.

Lu has always had the ability to play well, if not the interest. In years past, she’s had to be reminded to pay attention, don’t make dirt angels, RUN — don’t walk — to the dugout. She has been a regular bench warmer, and rightly so based on her interest and effort. The teams she’s played on in the past few years have been very good, but have often had groups of girls who have played together every season, and Lu has been the odd girl out who was trying to fit in socially and position-wise.

We have dealt with some serious existential crises in past seasons: “I’m the worst player and nobody likes me and I never get to play and I just want to be good at softball!!” As impossible as it may be to have an objective view of this as a mom, I see some fault on both sides here. Lu could have tried harder, but coaches could have made more effort to work with her as well.

This season, her team is a hodgepodge of girls who have never played, let alone played together. As a team, we’re not that great, but it seems like our girls are trying hard and having fun. As a result of this different team dynamic, Lu happens to be one of the best players on the team. What a difference in effort and attitude it has made!

Lu is ready to play, she’s excited about practice and she’s much more coachable on the field. Even if we lose all of our games (please, Lord, let us win a couple), I know she is learning more and having more fun than she ever has in the past. I feel like this season has potential to ignite a real drive in her to get better and play seriously in the future. As a former player, I couldn’t be happier.

And then we have sweet little Bug. Have I told y’all that if anyone was going to start a cult and inspire thousands to do her bidding, it would be Bug? This sassy little redhead is a natural athlete and she almost instantly has everyone under her spell when they meet her. Within the first 30 minutes of her first practice, she was designated clean-up batter, assigned to play first base, and had eight new BFFs. I have no idea where this kid came from.

We have pretty much the opposite problem here — when we are leaving practice, she tells me how great she did and that some girls didn’t even hit the ball or catch it one time. And you know she does this as we are walking right next to those girls and their moms. I promise I don’t walk around bragging and talking about other people, this just seems to come naturally to Bug.

I don’t believe any of my children are perfect and I know there are lots of things we could work on with each of them, but this softball experience has really brought out some personality traits that we haven’t seen before. I have one kid I need to boost up and encourage and one I need to deflate and humble a bit.

Hubby and I have always butted heads a little bit about how much to have our kids involved in team sports, and I gotta say, this would seem to make the score Me: 0, Hubby: 1 on arguments for sports developing character. You know whose character is getting developed the most? Mine.

I have to sit in the stands and be encouraging, but not Crazy Yelling Mom. I have to make sure all the right gear and uniform parts are clean and in the right bags. I have to drive from Brentwood to Franklin to Bethesda back to Franklin, and find quick food somewhere in between. I have to knock the future cult leader down a few notches and build up mini Stuart Smalley. Where’s my trophy at the end of the season? I’d like for it to be one of those cup-style trophies. And you can fill it with any adult beverage.

Overheard at the salon: “I don’t care where we are — if you give me a hotdog, I’m gonna eat it.”