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Parent Confessions... I’d Do It So Differently

Volume 2 | Issue 11 | November 2014 | Archive
Parent Confessions... I’d Do It So Differently
By Jerry T – Silver Spring, Maryland

My son’s last season of Little League® was in 1990. He quit after his second year in the Major Division. He’s never admitted it to me, but I know I was the reason he gave up the sport at such an early age. I was an overbearing baseball parent. I didn’t rant and scream from the stands. All it took for me to express my displeasure was a glare. Say my son booted the ball or watched a third strike sail by, he’d lower his head on his walk back to his position or the dugout, and under his hat’s brim, I could see him glance at me – eyes welled, cheeks deflated – hoping he’d see his dad smile or mouth “that’s okay, kid”. Instead, I’d just glare. On the ride home, I’d replay the game, the good and the bad, which is exactly what I shouldn’t have done, but at the time, I thought I was “teaching” him. We should have talked about his friends, sleepovers, camping trips... ANYTHING, but baseball.

Fast forward a few decades. I’m 62 years old now, and, I guess the passing of time has smartened me up a bit, and shown me just how poorly I handled things back then. I shouldn’t have got all worked up about him not hitting the cutoff or swinging at a pitch above his chin. In the big picture, those “mistakes” didn’t matter one bit. It was only a baseball game. But, I didn’t see it that way in my thirties. All those tense backyard practices should have been more about having fun with the “old man” than criticizing my young son for what I thought was a lazy swing or not concentrating enough when he was pitching to me.

I’d do it so differently if I had another chance. Don’t get me wrong, my son and I have a pretty solid relationship. We go fishing, work on cars together, and his mother and I vacation with my son and his wife. But, despite us getting along, I can’t help shake the idea that I scarred him, and cheated both of us of something beautiful as father and son.

So, baseball was scrapped too early. But, my son ended up getting into basketball. At that time, my job required a good chunk of travel, so I wasn’t around a lot to practice or go to many games. That was probably a blessing. My son ended up as the high-school basketball team captain.

Baseball has always been such a huge part of my life – playing and watching. Unfortunately, I can’t share that love with my son. We still don’t play catch or watch any games together. After 24 years, I still think it’s a sore subject for him, and that bothers me.

My son’s got a little one on the way – a boy. The bedroom is already decorated, filled with all kinds of sports stuff . . . a soccer ball pillow, a basketball nightlight, a football blanket. I bought my grandson a fuzzy baseball, and asked my son if I could put it the room. He said I could. Maybe I will get a second chance. I know I’ll do it right this time. Hope you do it right the first time.
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The Parent Connection - November 2014 - Archive