5 Reasons to Skip that End of the Year Party—And One Really Big Reason Not To

Let’s acknowledge up front: this is an exhausting time for parents everywhere. There are many reasons to skip the [baseball/band/chess/insert your kid’s thing] end-of-the-year party. Here’s five:

Not. One. More. Email.

Not. One. More. Email.

  1. You’re dreadfully busy. It’s the season of teachers’ gifts and final exams, swim team starting while spring sports are still going. The grey hairs are multiplying. It’s all too much!
  2. There will be emails, and the idea of one more “that conflicts with my spa weekend” or “Tommy doesn’t like sausage pizza” or “do you think the kids like beet salad?” is going to send you over the precipice, like a yucky version of Thelma and Louise.
  3. You worry there will not be enough food, or too much food, or the wrong food. You worry that you will be judged for ordering a glass of wine at the pizza place. (You won’t be. If you are, you’re with the wrong people.)
  4. Someone has to be the rsvp nag. You hate being a nag.
  5. You have to give yourself a pep talk to even go. Because, after all, you’ve been dreadfully busy and you’re just too tired.

You know what? Go.

Because overcoming reasons 1-5 can lead to an evening so light-filled and joyous it’ll make your heart grow two sizes. One you’ll want to seize and bottle for use on the dark days.

Picture it: ten boys take the field, swatting bugs and chomping gum and kicking dirt. It’s on. They get to play the people who are usually the boss of them. But tonight they are equals.

Except the dads have to bat left-handed. So the game begins with a strikeout, when a ten-year old with a wicked fastball sends the first dad back to the bench (picnic table variety) swinging.  It seems serious. Outs are made. There are close plays at first and home. The boys score first, then the dads.

It’s the moms who loosen things up, batting in flip flops, jewelry, even a dress. And while we are the source of much hilarity for the boys, we make contact! We dance when we get to first base. The love spreads. A tentative ten year old (hit by too many pitches this year to feel comfortable) takes his time and finally connects; he gets a single and a sideline full of cheers.

And then, Aidan—aged 5—steps up to the plate. He’s subbing for his father on the parents’ team. The fastest ten-year old in the east pitches him slow and easy, strike after strike. Not a single boy says a word about a strikeout. But when the little boy finally connects and hits it, the pitcher scoops it up and instinctively turns to first base and throws. An easy out.

Except the first baseman is Aidan’s brother. And seeing the five-year old barreling down the first base line, head down, running for his life, the first baseman drops the ball. Aidan keeps going, and the first baseman overthrows to second. And so it goes, and the fans are on their feet, yelling “Go, Aiden, go!” The ball somehow ends up in the outfield, and the throw to home is close, but not close enough, as our best fielders bobble and drop every toss.

My Little Guy When He First Discovered Baseball

And that’s how a group of seasoned ten-year old players come to mob a kindergartener who just got his first home run. A wave of good will ripples across the grassy field, and all the reasons not to do this celebration are forgotten. The coaches and parents savor the moment, knowing that of every lesson taught that season, the most important just played out. And the boys executed it perfectly.

I know this much is true: That I will gladly send and receive 10 or 20 or 30 emails to bear witness to pure joy, framed by the backdrop of a perfect blue sky and air that is thick with baseball and love.

You can never be too busy for that.



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33 Responses to 5 Reasons to Skip that End of the Year Party—And One Really Big Reason Not To

  1. Elena June 11, 2014 at 4:40 pm #

    Great article! Congratulations!!! Someday I will say, “I knew her when!” Elena

    • Cindy June 12, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

      Great! I really enjoyed this. I felt like I was at the game!

  2. Aviva Goldfarb June 11, 2014 at 5:12 pm #

    I love this so much, you actually made me cry with the home run story. Keep writing, girl!

  3. Mary June 11, 2014 at 5:13 pm #

    Congratulations Freighbor!! This made me very nostalgic, lovely.

  4. Anne McElvaine June 11, 2014 at 5:27 pm #

    great Kristin ~ keep calm and carry on!!

  5. Michelle Cromwell June 11, 2014 at 5:32 pm #

    Congratulations on your first post! What a fantastic story. I look forward to future posts!

  6. Marymac June 11, 2014 at 5:38 pm #

    As a baseball mom I absolutely love this!! A kindergartener on our team scored his first solo home run last night and watching the team mob him was amazing. I’m the scorekeeper and I love being in the dugout with these adorable, dusty boys!

    • Kristin O'Keefe June 11, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

      I think first home runs are a special kind of magic. And there’s nothing like team love–It’s why we sign them up for all this stuff. So good.

  7. Candy June 11, 2014 at 5:51 pm #

    Yay for your blog! And I agree – so many times I didn’t want to go to whatever-the-occasion-was and it turned out to be totally worth it. I look forward to the day when my girls have an activity that inspires such camaraderie. We are not there yet…

  8. Rebecca Borden June 11, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

    Loved the post! Congrats on taking the plunge! I can’t wait to read more.

  9. Johnna June 11, 2014 at 7:18 pm #

    A fantastic blog debut! Made me teary-eyed. And while I will roll my eyes and click delete, perhaps before I read all the emails, I will go to that concert/author’s tea/etc. for the pure joy that watching these kids do what they love brings. Can’t wait for future posts!!

    • Kristin O'Keefe June 11, 2014 at 7:53 pm #

      We’re all in it together! It is crazy, until that magic moment. But they’re so worth it.

  10. Cressy Aberle June 11, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    I love it Kristin! Congratulations on your first post, little boys and baseball . . . . life is good.

  11. Mary Ellen June 11, 2014 at 8:03 pm #

    So wonderful! Your story recaptured precious memories for me. I can’t wait to read more posts!!

  12. Stephanie June 11, 2014 at 8:20 pm #

    Wonderful first post Kristin! Felt like I was running right along with Aiden and cheering with you parents to see your kids do something so kind. We have to remember to make time for joy!

  13. Cameron June 11, 2014 at 8:48 pm #

    Yay Kristin! I love it and can’t wait for the next post!

  14. Tori June 11, 2014 at 11:18 pm #

    It’s so true, Kristin! great blog – thanks for writing this!

  15. Stef Warlick June 11, 2014 at 11:33 pm #

    Great post! I can’t wait to read more. Best of luck!

  16. Maria Adams June 12, 2014 at 12:08 am #

    Congratulations on the blog! Love the story. I have many fond memories at my children’s games. Good times indeed.

  17. Carolyn Terry June 12, 2014 at 12:43 am #

    Loved it! Congratulations!

  18. Sarah Jones June 12, 2014 at 5:25 am #

    Yay! I love it! Go for the duct-taped mini-van, and keep writing!

  19. Darlene Campbell June 12, 2014 at 11:24 am #

    Isn’t this wonderful that I am commenting on your first Blog Post when just last week setting up your Blog was on your To Do list. I am so excited for you. I can see already that writing and posting will be easy for you. I have subscribed so I don’t miss anything. Your story was funny and heartfelt. Looking forward to seeing more. CONGRATULATIONS !! Cheers-Darlene

  20. Donna Dimon June 12, 2014 at 12:24 pm #

    I am so proud of you!!! Follow your dreams.

  21. Sherri Holdridge June 12, 2014 at 2:49 pm #

    Great Post Kristin – can’t wait for the next post! So relevant and absolutely loved the baseball story. Keep writing!

  22. Terry June 12, 2014 at 6:07 pm #

    Congratulations! All of us in MN are so happy for you!

  23. Elise Lipoff Mayer June 13, 2014 at 3:14 am #

    I LOVED the post and look forward to reading more. I had a duct-taped minivan for many years. CONGRATULATIONS!!!! Xoxo

  24. Steve Simon June 13, 2014 at 8:09 pm #

    Go Kristen, Go Kristen, Go Kristen!… (picture me singing. on second thought… 🙂

  25. Jill Jones June 16, 2014 at 3:01 pm #

    KTO…..so proud of you for working on finding your voice! I admire you and am so proud for you opening the next chapter of your life.

    • Kristin O'Keefe June 17, 2014 at 2:12 pm #

      Thank you Jill! It’s a wonderful adventure. Can’t wait to see you in fall!

  26. Patty Steele June 18, 2014 at 10:02 am #

    Wonderful story — only wish I had read it yesterday before deciding that I was too tired to make book club last night — its a thoughtful reminder to reconsider connection and community before choosing resting isolation!

  27. Varuni June 23, 2014 at 3:11 pm #

    Love, love, love it!

  28. Marie May 27, 2015 at 8:08 pm #

    Just what I needed to hear today in the thick of it all. So moving. Brought me to tears (of joy, of course).

    • Kristin O'Keefe May 27, 2015 at 9:33 pm #

      Thanks Marie! It’s one of my favorite sports stories. And it’s not even a real game! Here’s to surviving the madness and savoring the good stuff.

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