My son was such a cute, little Tee Baller. He loved going out there and running around. I loved watching him and taking photos. It was just so adorable.
Then, all the sudden, he was in the Minor Divisions. He still liked the game, but it became clear that he wasn’t going to be a standout baseball player. He started getting frustrated because he wasn’t as talented on the field as some of his friends that he had been playing with for the past few years.
My son is a quirky, intellectual kid, who would gladly stay in his bedroom on his computer or tablet all day long. But, he still loved the game, even though his heart might not have been in playing it. So, we continued to sign him up. It’s what you do. You play Little League. When he got drafted to a Major Division team, he was excited, but hesitant because he knew he wasn’t as strong a player.
Kids at that age can be your harshest critic sometimes, and, unfortunately, there were times where they let him know that he wasn’t the most skilled player. His coach and the other parents were supportive, and he had some great moments with his teammates. We powered through the season, with me pushing him along the way. I was encouraging him to find ways to have more fun playing, suggesting that we do more drills or instruction to help him improve. He would go through the motions, but I could tell that he wasn’t enjoying that extra work and that it was causing tension between us. I thought I was doing the right thing by focusing on his on-field performance, when I should have been fostering his love of the game.
When it came time for the next season, he didn’t really want to play anymore. As a die-hard Little League® lover, this about killed me when he bravely told me. Then, instead of pushing him to play like I had done in the past, I asked him what he wanted to do.
He said he wanted to umpire.
As a district umpire, I loved this response. As a mom, I loved it even more. My son had started umpiring at age 10, and we had had a lot of fun doing it together. All along, I was so focused on him being a better player that I never noticed the pure enjoyment he got out of umpiring.
He said playing got in the way of umpiring due to the hectic schedule. I had never thought of it like that. I had never asked him.
So now his Little League experience is going to be as an umpire and not as a player. It’s still Little League, it’s still fresh air, and being outside with kids having fun. And now he’s also able to learn the importance of volunteering at a young age. So, it’s a win-win-win for our Little League family, our love of the game is only continuing to grow.