Friday, March 11, 2011

Batting cages or little league? Cages every time.

Having been around a little, I can tell you that kids are unique and as different from one another as can be. That said, they do all share some common traits, one of which is an almost supernatural ability to produce common emotional responses in parents and caregivers alike. These responses are of course enormously complex and fall on a wide spectrum… but that’s still not going to stop me from indulging in my fondness for oversimplifying everything.

To wit, at one end of the emotional spectrum is baffled disappointment: “Why did my boy just lick the kitchen floor from the back door all the way to the fridge?” At the other end is justifiable pride when he scores against that big goon of a goalie who’s either a 20 year old ringer or a fifth-grader with a glandular problem. “Run boy, run!”

Somewhere in the middle, however, is that sweet spot of maudlin sentimentality evoked by kids when they do nothing more than grow up. A maudlin sentimentality for which I’ve found that I have no patience. The sort of maudlin sentimentality that I don’t feel for my boy’s little league days. I’m probably just a bad father.

It’s been a couple of years since the older boy has played, and since April 1st is right around the corner I was just thinking that I miss almost nothing about little league. I don’t miss the early start of the little league season. I like baseball well enough, but when Coach called up every December, that’s DECEMBER, to let us know that he was starting indoor practice in January it was all I could do to be polite. Mostly.

Nor do I miss all that time spent freezing my butt on the aluminum bleachers in April, or all that time spent baking in the sun on those same aluminum bleachers in June. I don’t miss all the shrieking little league parents who are blissfully unaware that they are walking, talking clich├ęs. I don’t miss watching other people’s kids whiff the ball repeatedly. My kid does that plenty, thank you very much.

But here’s the thing; I do miss getting out to the batting cages with the boy. (Just enter your zip code and the website will find one for you.) In late winter and early spring it was always a great way to get out of the house and do something fun, active and productive. He loved the challenge, and I loved the opportunity to show off just a little. Right now it’s still too early in the season to be outside much, so it’s the perfect time to take the kids for a little no-pressure batting practice. Just make sure you don’t run into Coach.

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