I’ve had many proud moments as the mom of two young athletes. Among those memories are not:
- My complete and utter meltdown at Sports Authority when my husband responded (with an unnecessary eye-roll accompaniment) “Because you can’t” to my inquiry “Why the hell can’t they just use their baseball cleats as football cleats if they have not outgrown them?”
- The stream of cuss words that spewed forth when I screwed up my MOM bling iron-on for my self-made spirit wear
- Any time I have had to work the concession stand for football, baseball, basketball, or lacrosse
- The complete and utter meltdown my son Alex had after striking out during a game in the State Championship Tournament. Must be something in the DNA.
His meltdown was most likely precipitated by the false illusion that the $200 bat we bought him during the Beach Blast Tournament his team went to in Myrtle Beach was magical. Perhaps he thought the bat would somehow turn him into Babe Rice, jacking shots over fences at a ridiculous clip.
When the bat was purchased I asked explicitly “This isn’t one of those big barrel things that is not legal in some tournaments. He’ll be able to use it in the upcoming Fourth of July Tournament and the State Tournament, right?”
My husband gave me another one of his eye-rolls as he spat out “Of course he can use it. We know what we’re doing.” ‘We know what we are doing’ turned out to be code for: ‘I’m assuming he can. But I have no idea. So stop pestering me.’
Editor’s note: It turns out it is a big barrel bat and he was not able to use it in the last two tournaments of the season. So by my estimation, we paid exactly $26.66 per at bat for that damn thing this season, since Alex was only able to use it in the remaining games of the Myrtle Beach Tournament.
When Alex couldn’t use his new bat at the State Tournament, he began trying out other players’ bats. And after an at bat where he struck out — here comes the proud parent stuff — he slammed down the bat, kicked at the dirt, and on his way back to the dugout he ignored a coach who kept repeating “Look at me, Alex.” When he finally did look at his coach, the coach asked Alex if that was his bat. Alex snarled back “no”, and his coach told him “Then you need to apologize to the owner for how you treated it.” Alex rolled his eyes (must be something in the DNA) and walked away without responding.
His head coach then pulled him away from the bench and tried to calm him down. And Alex began to bark back about how the umpire was awful and stupid. The coach said “you’re done today, Alex”. But due to the rules of substitutions, the coach’s decision could not be implemented without disadvantaging the team, so Alex ended up staying in the game.
I was barely able to keep my ass connected to the bleacher. I was prepared to take him out … and not in the you’re-gonna-be-sitting-on-the-bench-for-the-rest-of-the-game kinda way. I was ready to rip Alex a new one for his ridiculous, inappropriate, disrespectful, and downright unsportsmanlike behavior. But I wasn’t fast enough because his dad was already on it before I could even get up.
After the game, it was a very silent 2 hour ride home. That evening after we all had time to calm down Alex — teary-eyed — admitted his behavior was wrong. When my husband asked him why he wasn’t using the bat we paid $200 for last year (the bat that wasn’t illegal for these tournaments), Alex explained “because other kids were getting hits with Brooks’ bat”. My husband responded gently but firmly, “it’s not the bat that produces the hit Alex.” More teary-eyes. This time from Alex and me, as the truth of the words stung.
We told Alex he would need to apologize to both his coaches for his behavior before the games the next morning. When we arrived at the fields, he did just that. He came over to let me know the apologies had been delivered, and gave me a fist bump. I said “good job, kiddo. I’m proud of you because I know that wasn’t easy. New day; better attitude, right?”
He smiled as he walked away toward the dugout, not realizing he was now batting a thousand when it mattered most.