Last month, our older boy started playing on a local tee ball team.
Now, Dude looks good, but let this not be confused with the real rules of baseball, which include but are not limited to…
“Three strikes and you’re out!” “Hit a home run!” And, my personal early-nineties favorite, “We want a pitcher, not a belly itcher!”
Nope. Instead, everyone wins. Everyone takes as much time to hit the ball on the stand as they need, with Coach Matt giving pointers before every swing. It involves Coach Brita standing next to the pitcher, encouraging him (or her) to scoop up the ball like ice cream – even if it takes a full minute to complete the task. It involves nearly every parent on the field, standing next to their little leaguer; it involves parents then encouraging their kids to watch the ball, to get in ready position, and to stand up, even if they feel like sitting down to pick daisies in the outfield. Really, it merely involves parents being there with their kids, hanging out, even if it feels a little pointless.
And it involves praise.
Last week, Cancan stood on the pitcher’s mound, so excited turn had finally come to scoop the ball up like ice cream, almost every time the other team hit the ball. But one time, upon finally scooping up the ball, transferring it to his throwing hand, and stepping forward for a huge throw to home, he overthrew it by a good ten feet.
“Way to go, buddy!” Courtney, the parent standing near home plate, cheered. “Your arm strength is out of this world!”
When that happened, my boy beamed.
He’d been praised, the words of what some might deem a bad throw, turned good.
Because in tee ball, at least for the four and five year old crew, it’s not about who wins or loses, but it’s about learning the fundamentals of the game. It’s about learning to love the game itself, and it’s about seeing yourself as a deeply valued part of the whole team.
Ever since last week’s game, when Courtney praised Cancan not for perfection but for the strength of his throw, I keep wondering how the rest of us might bring a little bit of the rules of tee ball into our own lives.
We humans – although really, I say it’s rather limited to we adult-humans of this world – grow so critical of ourselves and of each other. We begin to believe that not only do we think we have a right to critique everyone and everything around us, but we begin to thrive on the critique itself.
Critiquing other people, including perfect strangers, whose beliefs are different from our own, makes us somehow feel better about ourselves.
Critiquing ourselves when we’ve made a mistake becomes the only way we know how to learn and grow from a situation.
Critiquing our spouses and our partners and our significant others, because their decisions and ways of being in this world differs from our decisions and our ways of being in this world, becomes the driving force of our most significant relationships.
It’s like we begin to believe that the only way to exist is by and through critiquing.
So, I don’t know about you, but I’m letting a little more tee ball into my life. I’m letting a little more praise and a little more encouragement and even a little more enthusiasm into my life – because sometimes I forget how critical this lightheartedness is to the game.
What do you say?
Should we let the rules of tee ball enter into our hearts and minds and lives, just a little bit?
Should we enter into speaking encouragement and praise to others and to ourselves, even when we throw the ball ten feet from home plate?
I’m game for trying …and I hope you are, too.
So, living life according to the rules of the tee ball game – can we do it? Sure, it may not work in the case of crunching numbers and being millions of dollars off track, but I DO think we can change the way we interact with and cheer one another on. Don’t you think?0