Saturday, June 7, 2008

My Boy of Summer

Something special happened last week. It was both overwhelmingly joyous and overwhelmingly sad for this Mommy, so if you sense the splash of my tears on the keyboard, just know it’s one of those. Happy... or sad... or probably both together. This story actually has many facets, and there are larger, related issues that will surely propel me into other posts, so... so... in a burst of creative brilliance, I’ll just weave all of that introduction together and call this...

Part One

As I mentioned yesterday, my eldest son has some disabilities. This spring, seemingly out of nowhere, he had the desire to play baseball on a team. This sudden interest in baseball was an eyebrow-raiser, met internally with cautious skepticism and mixed emotions, but he was so enthusiastic and eager to try it that we just had to consent.

He’s on a team of 11 and 12 year old boys, one of the three teams fielded as an outreach of an urban ministry here. A majority of the kids in this ministry’s programs live in the inner city. Many come from some tough situations at home, and some can be a little rough around the edges. (My older boys have spent the past two summers at day camp through this ministry, giving them the invaluable experience of being daily in an environment where they are the extreme minority race, but that’s a post for another day.)

Now, you might not think that this particular group of competitive 11 to 12 year-old boys would be prime soil for inclusion of a kid with significant differences in physical ability. The primary goals in this baseball program are a little different than most, though. They aim to create a loving atmosphere, in which respect for teammates, coaches, other teams, umpires and equipment is placed far above winning games in importance. They accept and support my son, valuing him for the things he does bring to the team, without begrudging him the one or two outs he adds to the tally each game.

Every player is guaranteed to get at least one turn per game at bat and out in the field. As the team hasn’t been doing so well, he often gets two or more turns. Seeing his differences (a coach steps up with him, for one), most opposing coaches opt to signal their pitchers to slow down. The resulting high lobs can actually be harder to hit than straight pitches -- Imagine yourself swinging at a ball a good foot above your head... There. See what I mean? -- but he’s not likely to get out of the way of any errant fast pitches, so we’re not protesting to change this anytime soon! In any case, as of last week, he hadn’t gotten a hit all season. Not even close.

At last week’s game, the team was having their best game of the season by far. It was going to be a one-turn night for my boy. As he got up to bat, we were narrowly hanging onto a lead, there were two runners on base, and two outs already. “Oh, no, Lord. I wish he wasn’t in this particular position...” I thought. “Wouldn’t it be amazing for him to experience getting a hit, even just once this year?” my heart added.

To be continued...

1 comment:

Brianna said...

Ack! I'm sitting on the edge of my seat here! :) (Clicked over from Owlhaven to this intriguing post. . .) I'll be back!