The Mouse started t-ball last week. This is the first after-school activity he’s been in since we first tried (and failed MISERABLY at) soccer when he was four years old. All of my friends have been putting their kids in multiple activities since around that age, but me? Nope. Wasn’t going to do it. If all he wanted to do was sit on the sidelines and drink water while picking clovers, I wasn’t about to waste my money (or precious weekends) on another activity.
I know, I’m a mean, mean mom.
But over the past few months he’s grown up so much – and started talking about other friends who are playing sports. We gave him a choice of which type of activity he’d like to try, and t-ball was the winner. We decided that instead of the YMCA league, we would try a ‘real’ league in our area, something a little more structured. We felt like the main problem he had with soccer was a) he was 4 years old and b) there was only one coach and he had no idea what he was doing. This time, we opted for something that hopefully would be a little more ‘serious’. So, I took him down to register at the beginning of February, and braced myself for the insanity.
Normal people don’t get anxiety from signing their kids up for sports, right? Normal moms are excited to see their kids grow, and learn things, and work as part of a team, right? But for me, all I could think was: THIS IS SEWIOUS.
We arrived to official looking coaches at a long table filled with sign-up iPads. They were all wearing uniforms. There were forms, and signs, and a LINE. There were big kids signing up for what was probably their 5th or 6th season, who looked like they were a couple of months away from getting their driver’s license and/or being signed to the minor league. As I stood there in my mussed makeup and yoga pants, I clutched the Froggy on one hip and the Mouse’s birth certificate (yes, they required proof of age) in the other and tried not start sweating profusely. The Mouse looked around anxiously and informed me of all the cool stuff we would need to buy for him, and I tried not start tallying up the expenses in my head.
“So, are you signing both of them up today?” asked a friendly, but serious-looking coach.
“Oh, no – just the big one. This guy isn’t quite three.”
“Well that’s okay! If he’s going to be three in the next 3 months, he can play on our youngest team!”
“Yeah, no. we’re good. Just the big one.”
“Hmm, okay. Hey dude, how old are you?” he asked the Mouse.
“Five and a half!”
“Almost six, huh? Well, you’ll need to start on our 5 year old teams. Glad we could get you all signed up. What size pants are you going to need? Probably a XXS … make sure mom starts feeding you a cheeseburger once a day, we’ve got to get some weight on you!”
… aaaaaaand this is where I started to see spots. Not because the guy was commenting on my kid’s weight (which is a whole other issue), but because he was thinking of my five year old as an actual athlete. T-ball by itself isn’t a big deal, I get that. But I’m incapable of just seeing something as it is today. When I see a sports organization like this, I see the next 10 years of sports with my boys. I see 15 practices a week and us having absolutely no time to do anything else. I see stinky sporting equipment piled in my laundry room. I see CUPS in my kitchen sink (and not the kid you drink out of). I see insane sports parents screaming at games about my kid dropping the ball and me wanting to claw their eyes out.
I see my baby starting down a long road of all of that, and it makes me want to curl up into a ball and start weeping. Not because I don’t think he can handle it, but because I don’t want him to grow up, and this is the beginning of that.
About a month later we got an email from his new coach – and the Husband and I were right, we already have a much more structured organization and setting. The Mouse has two hour and a half long practices a week, and games on Saturdays. He has one coach and three ‘helper coaches’. He has the cutest little cleats, baseball pants, and tall socks. There are team emails. There’s a ‘team mom’ list. He has games at our local city park on a ‘real’ field. His first practice was this past week, and even though it was cold, damp, and windy – he loved it. I stayed close and watched him smile, and run, and learn new things … probably closer than I should have.
He turned around at one point during practice, looked at me, and said, “I can’t believe I’m on a REAL t-ball team, mommy!”
His excitement almost makes it all easier for me. Almost.