The Plane

We have worked hard.  We have sacrificed.  We have stood in open fields with wind blown faces while spitting out the sandy grit that reminds us of our hard ships.  We have stood stoically like Bear Bryant and taught, with patience, with compassion and lots of laps around the bases.  The kids are finally starting to come together, the team is starting to gel.  We have something special here and we know it.  Tball is a metaphor for life and the kids finally understand that.  And it's also a great place to play in dirt.  Lots and lots of dirt. 

For 6 weeks we have taken 4 to 5 year olds and taught them the sacred game that is baseball.  We started easy.  This is a baseball field.  This is a baseball.  That is dirt.  Sometimes you can eat the dirt but you never eat the baseball. 

After this important lesson the kids quickly scattered to the four corners of the field.  Not because we told them to but because this is what 5 year olds do when they are bored.  Rule number 1 of coaching tball:  never stop moving.  Want a good workout?  Coach tball.  Crossfit is for pussies. 

That was our first practice, so long ago.  We spent 10 minutes explaining rules, 45 minutes of chasing kids away from a drainage ditch near our practice field and a good 5 minutes just wandering what the hell we had gotten ourselves into. 

But this is baseball and if you pray to the baseball gods, they will provide.  And provided they have. 

6 weeks later we find ourselves in an actual game, in the middle of our season.  And oddly, my voice isn't hoarse.  It's not hurting, it's not strained.  It's a curious feeling.  I am not having to yell over the roar of the wind for a kid to stop climbing the dug out fence.  I'm not having to remind anyone that we can play in the dirt after the game.  I am not telling any child to turn around, the ball is the other way.  No kid is running from first base to third base while skipping second all together.  It's amazing, I think the kids have finally gotten it. 

They hit the ball.  They run to base.  They field the ball.  They through it randomly.  Right now, I'm just happy if they throw the ball and if they happen to throw it to first base, then hell, that kids a genius and a future all star.  I'll take what I can get and right now what I get is a team that is actually playing baseball and not tag in center field. 

When the ball is hit, I no longer have 11 5 year olds all running balls out to go get it in right field.  We have explained to the pitcher that he is playing pitcher and if the ball gets past him that is where he shall stay.  Today we are not having to pull kids off of a mile high dog pile that they have invariably decided is the way to play baseball.  It's not some weird lord of the flies contest where the winner gets the conch and gets to throw the ball somewhere, it doesn't matter anywhere. 

All game, they are actually playing baseball they way it's supposed to be played.  I am happy.

Our bases are loaded (they always are in tball).  We have a big hitter up, which means a kid that lines up next to the T with the right end of the bat and not an umbrella that he somehow smuggled onto the field.  We are about to complete a full game.  We are fielding, we are running, we are hitting.  It is glorious.

"A Plane!  Look, A Plane!"

God Dammit. 

The bane of every tball coach everywhere.  The arrival of the mysterious plane.  Where is it going?  Who's on board?  None of that matters.  All that matters is that the plane is here and that is the worst distraction.  Might as well throw fucking Micky Mouse on the field and have him do a dance.  Before I can even scream "NO!", I have lost the little buggers. 

The kid standing on second decides that a plane needs a run way so it appears that he is attempting to build one in the dirt.  This is a problem because the ball has just been hit and he should be on his way to third. 

Not that he has to hurry mind you.  My kid on third is currently looking up at the plane and is turning in circles because turning in circles if fucking awesome.  The helmet though covers his eyes so I'm wondering if he is just trying to get a glimpse of home.  I see the on deck circle empty because that guy is running toward the plane.  Carrying a bat.

The bench has erupted into a full on WWF cage match.  I wonder who will win?  Probably the kid that is currently dumping over all the water bottles.  I like his style, he's playing the long game of attrition.  

The parents are cheering and I'm wondering why.  Do they notice that we have lost the kids or is this just less chaos than usual?  Or maybe they are cheering because they like to see me and the two other coaches run around cat herding.  I think the parents are using us for some cheap entertainment, bastards.  I'll bet they are drunk. 

Someone threw the ball in, this is good.  But what's bad is that our kid on first got the hint and ran toward second.  This has caused our runway for the plane to be destroyed.  My kid on second reminds him that THERE IS A PLANE UP THERE SO DON'T WRECK THE RUNWAY!  He's got passion, got to give him that credit. 

So close, we were so close to a complete no distraction game.  And the plane, which is now my mortal enemy, stole that from me. 

Baseball is simple.  You catch the ball, you throw the ball, you hit the ball, you ignore planes in the sky.  If I can just teach this for the rest of the year, our season will be a success.  And failing that, if you can at least build a halfway decent runway in the dirt then perhaps the plane can land safely and join our little game. 

1 comment:

  1. Team Hossman - Love your blog - and your spirit. I also like the fact you are a stay-at-home dad "on purpose" :) I am a Ph.D. student looking at successful stay at home dads - and you appear to be one of them. I think there is a lot to be gained by learning from folks that get it right. Would you be willing to be interviewed for my research? I am having a tough time finding folks and I am running out of time. If you are - please email me at caregivingscholar@gmail.com. Thanks - and keep up the positive energy.