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.

 

 

Author: Kristin O'Keefe

Kristin O’Keefe has bartended in Scotland, written speeches for college presidents, and led communications & marketing for an economic development organization. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, McSweeney's, Barrelhouse, Your Teen, Grown and Flown, and Scary Mommy. Find her on Twitter @_KristinOKeefe and Facebook at Kristin O'Keefe, writer.

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

  1. Elena says:

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

    Reply
    1. Cindy says:

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

      Reply
  2. Mary says:

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

    Reply
  3. Michelle Cromwell says:

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

    Reply
  4. Marymac says:

    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!

    Reply
    1. Kristin O'Keefe says:

      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.

      Reply
  5. Candy says:

    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…

    Reply
  6. Rebecca Borden says:

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

    Reply
  7. Johnna says:

    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!!

    Reply
  8. Cressy Aberle says:

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

    Reply
  9. Mary Ellen says:

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

    Reply
  10. Stephanie says:

    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!

    Reply
  11. Tori says:

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

    Reply
  12. Stef Warlick says:

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

    Reply
  13. Maria Adams says:

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

    Reply
  14. Sarah Jones says:

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

    Reply
  15. Darlene Campbell says:

    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

    Reply
  16. Sherri Holdridge says:

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

    Reply
  17. Terry says:

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

    Reply
  18. Elise Lipoff Mayer says:

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

    Reply
  19. Steve Simon says:

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

    Reply
  20. Jill Jones says:

    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.

    Reply
  21. Patty Steele says:

    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!

    Reply
  22. Marie says:

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

    Reply
    1. Kristin O'Keefe says:

      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.

      Reply

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