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:
- 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!
- 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.
- 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.)
- Someone has to be the rsvp nag. You hate being a nag.
- 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.
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.