Shaking hands, bad stance, three strikes (about a zillion balls) and then tears. My mother’s heart was torn, hurting for his hurt and disappointment, and at the same time willing him to stop crying in front of his team. Wanting to go make sure he was OK, but not sure if it would make it worse. Mocking instead of concern sometimes comes with age and he is getting to that age. Any derogatory comment would only increase the pressure for next time.
Baseball was different this season. Our neighborhood team was disbanded. Games were on random days at random times making consistent practice difficult. When it was held it fell on the same day as his other extracurriculars. Running from hip hop to violin to baseball with 10 minutes in between led to exhaustion. “Do you want to drop something?” I would ask. “No, “he’d reply lying on the floor “I love it all. It’s only for a couple of months.”
The first year of kid/coach pitch is 4 innings max, lots of balls, lots of goofing off and boredom in the outfield and games that move at the pace of molasses. It’s also, learning how to do hard things under pressure (self-inflicted or otherwise).
Justin helped coach. After a couple of games that ended in frustration for Josh, Justin decided to focus on the positives. Instead of always telling him what he needed to improve (which was always done patiently and kindly) he just focused on what he was doing right. Josh changed. He wasn’t as nervous, he started to have more fun. Emphasizing the positive led to the statement, “I know what the problem is Dad, when I’m scared I don’t play as well. So I just need to not be scared.”
The last game. Decent stance, 2 strikes, a kid pitcher that knew what he was doing and a hit. He pumped his fist with a grin plastered over his face at first base. Dad was there to give him a five. The joy of accomplishment was visible in every move. He had discovered his own power. It’s all in your head.