Monday, June 15, 2009
I am praying one of those prayers - tiny, fervent, constant. What Anne Lamott calls "beggy prayers." It goes like this - please, God, please, let my son hit the ball.
I know there's a lot going on in the world right now. Perhaps in the face of global financial collapse it seems ridiculous to be fixated on one small boy and one tiny, stupid ball, but there it is. Why not? I'm not going to fix the automobile industry. I can't pay someone elses mortgage. Now, as always, it's good advice to tend your own house and heart. Saturday mornings my heart is up at bat.
My son has been playing baseball. He was supposed to be playing with kids his own age but there weren't enough to make a team so he's out there with kids 2 or 3 years older. Big kids. And they can pitch. My boy looks so small out in the field. He's so skinny and dreamy. He played soccer once years ago and I watched as the ball kept rolling past him because he was spinning around with his arms out stretched. I thought this was adorable but some of the other parents didn't agree. Now, at nearly 11, he's got his "head in the game" most of the time. The coach sometimes yells that the kids look like they're "asleep out there" but, believe me, there's been a lot of growth. The thing is... up at the plate.
It's not that he can't do it. When his Dad pitches to him he hits it and hard too. He's really gotten a lot better. In the beginning he was afraid of the ball. Not anymore. He's right in there, stronger, more confident. In the beginning, too, he was swinging at anything. Now he lets the 'balls' go by so he's been able to round the bases twice after being walked. So much better. But he hasn't hit the ball, not really, not the way he wants to. He did have one solid bat/ball connection a couple of weeks ago. He had such a moment of pride after that first hit, his thin shoulders suddenly straightening as he ran to first. A moment later the little SOB they call the "shortstop" caught it. But still, he had hit the thing. He can do it again.
This Saturday is the last game. So I'm praying - please, God, please, let my son hit the ball. He's been so brave. He didn't quit when he found out most of the kids were older. He didn't quit when he figured out most of the kids were better. Give him something for hanging in. He doesn't need to be the hero, not in this one. But let him be proud of himself. Let him feel like he's part of the team not just in name but in ability. He's come so far, been braver than I, at his age, ever would have been. I know you've got a lot of people coming to you and I know a lot of them are in real trouble. If there is such a thing as a day of rest you've surely earned it by the weekend. But Saturday morning there will be a 10 year old boy at bat. And I'm praying here. Please, please, please, let my kid hit the ball. Amen.