I stood at the fence watching a few dozen children play America’s pastime and took a deep breath. One boy, no more than 4 years old, pounded his mitt with determination while another one stared aimlessly into the air at a bird. The organized T-Ball league was into its third week and most of the children had become acclimated.
I peered over my shoulder and watched as my son sat on the grass … watching.
“You ready to head out there, buddy?” I asked with every fiber of my patience tugging on the frayed ends of sanity.
“No, I’m just watching,” he said playing with a blade of grass.
Last week, he wouldn’t participate either so I vowed to get him out there this week. We arrived at the field, excited and ready to go. I brought my mitt as an added bonus and it appeared he was ready to participate. Then, when all the children were called out, he balked (pun intended).
Since I am a schoolteacher, I am groomed in the art of patience. However, with my own child I was at a loss. I reached into every bag of tricks including a bribe of chocolate, but my son remained steadfast. I wanted him to get out there so badly that I felt myself shaking with frustration. Finally, I did the best thing possible.
I let him be.
Some other parents consoled me with “My son did the same thing” and “Don’t worry about it.” I appreciated their sentiments, but I felt embarrassed. During his sit-in, I would occasionally ask if he wanted to give it a try, beckoning to at least sit on the field. Finally, one of the coaches came over.
“Hey buddy! I need a second baseman. Can you help me out?”
My son shook his head.
“Well, would you like to be my pitcher?”
It was as if the password to a secret realm was spoken. My son nodded gently and accompanied the coach onto the field.
For the last half hour he happily joined his team and even caught a pop-up (which I captured on video in the best fatherly fashion).
At the end, he joyfully ran into my arms, hugging me.
“Daddy, I love T-ball now!”
I smiled and fought back tears.
Patience is truly a virtue.