T-BALL: baseball modified for youngsters in which the ball is batted from a tee of adjustable height rather than being pitched

Sports have changed a great deal since I was a kid.  When I was young, I played softball in upper elementary school on a team organized by the town parks and recreation department.  In seventh grade, I heard about volleyball try-outs days before they occurred.  I showed up, they taught me the basics, and I went on to play throughout junior high and high school.   Sports started when kids were coordinated enough to do them and mature enough to understand the rules.  The emphasis was on sportsmanship and teamwork.

Kids these days (I find myself using this phrase more and more, which I’m certain is a sign that I’m getting old) are starting to play much younger.  Son is five and he just started “rookie” T-ball.  Everyone gets to bat every inning, you can swing as many times as needed to make contact with the ball, and players can stay on the base even if they are out.  Oh, and they don’t keep score. In other words…T-ball without Tears.

This is Son’s first team sport.  Many of his preschool friends have already played a season or two of soccer, basketball, etc.  If I’m completely honest, I’ve been dreading this.

Yes, I’m glad Son is excited about this new activity.  I’m glad he is meeting new friends from our neighborhood.  I’m glad he is learning the importance of teamwork.  But, I tend to put preschool sports in the same category as birthday goodie bags.  I mean, really…when did this madness begin?

Why can’t kids wait to play sports until they are old enough not to cry when they strike out?  Or when they don’t get to bat?  Or when the ball gets to first base before them?  Why can’t they wait until they understand that they must run counterclockwise around the baseball diamond? Or…and here I’m getting really snarky…until they have the coordination to catch a ball thrown by another child?

Changing the rules of the game to avoid disappointment seems like cheating to me.  Part of learning sportsmanship – arguably the point of preschoolers playing sports – is learning to win and lose graciously.  Kids these days (again…geez, I better check for gray hairs when I’m done typing!) miss out on a lot of opportunities to deal with disappointment.

Remember when birthday parties were about the birthday boy or girl?  When you brought a present and left empty handed? Now the goody bags Son and Daughter bring home are as elaborate the gifts we bring.  My kids are learning to see birthday parties as gift exchange rather than a gift delivery.  I wish they had more chances to exercise their yearning muscles –to watch their friends open gifts and long for the day it will be their turn.

But, alas…I am weak and have caved to peer pressure.  I don’t really want to be the mother who stands on principle and sends bright-eyed expectant children away from Son and Daughter’s birthday parties empty handed.  Nor do I want to be the mother whose Son questions why he is the only child who never played T-ball.

It feels like “everyone is doing it.”  And, while I will discount that as solid reasoning when my children reach adolescence, I find myself giving in to the doubts and fears of non-conformance.  I fear that excluding Son and Daughter will put them behind their peers in skills and knowledge by the time the “real” sports come along.  I fear that lack of experience with translate to lack of confidence and make them reluctant to participate in the joy of team sports.  Since I want my children to have good team sport experiences like I did, I find myself caught up in the insanity of “rookie” T-ball.

I have swallowed my principles, made plates of rice crispy treats, and prepared early dinners…all in the name of T-ball without Tears.

Older “T” posts you may have missed: Tender; Tradition


8 thoughts on “T-ball

  1. Oh good heavens – have you been reading my mind? I too am irritated beyond belief about the goody bags thing. My children, who attract friends like mosquitos in summer, get lots and lots of birthday invites. So I have set a 10-15 dollar gift price limit. THE GOODY BAGS THEY COME HOME WITH COST NEARLY THIS MUCH! And now something else – at my kids’ private school, there’s no lunchroom. Everyone brown bags, except on Thursdays, when a different family each week prepares a hot lunch and serves it. Precious. I have always loved it. But now we have some parents wrecking the experience for me because they’re giving…GOODY BAGS. When does it end? Can’t I just show up, dish out homemade spaghetti, green beans, and fruit with a cold cup of milk? Why do I also have to prepare a cup of crap from Oriental Trading mixed in with candy that kids DO NOT NEED? But by not doing it, my kids feel embarrassed.

  2. The goodie bags for little league baseball games are insane! Last summer, I felt like I was constantly the one signed up for “snacks.” Snacks to me is a bottle of water and a small bag of chips. Snacks to the other moms is just like you said – a birthday party treat bag.

  3. Oh…..I’m with you all!!! First, the goody bag. Totally agree with your point Def. Motherhood, about kids (these days! 🙂 not having to experience–and SURVIVE–disappointment! Sports, leaving a bday party empty handed, etc. And a lot of the time, let’s face it, the goody bag’s contents are CRAP! Not only is it more STUFF to find a place for in your house (or stealthily get rid of), it’s junk! And then there’s the candy element. They’ve just had cake and/or ice cream. Do they really need a lollipop or foil covered chocolate chaser?? I have a new one for you….(or maybe not :-(. We left a recent bday party with a huge haul. And…..the thank you card that came home today (Mind you I VERY much appreciate the card.) had two white chocolate lollipops taped to it!!

    Ok…next topic in my missive….The whole idea that kids grow up toooooo fast. I haven’t experienced T-ball and after reading DM’s post it just makes me realize it’s one more way we’re pushing things down to younger and younger ages. Find a kindergarten teacher who has at least 20 years experience, or maybe even less. S/he will tell you we’ve pushed down the curriculum. What used to be taught in first grade is now starting to be taught in K. Remember half day kindergarten with rest time, nursery rhymes, songs, stories, and pretend play?? SometImes we don’t even get this in preschools! If you’re like minded on this point check out the Simplicity Parenting movement led by Kim John Payne. (Yes, he has a book.)

    Thanks for letting me rant!!! I feel much better! Now about the T-ball that my husband found in the parks and rec brochure……I think I’ll pass. What will Husband say???

    1. Glad you feel better HTBAMomma…or as I like to call you “the one who bequeaths dehydrators.” 🙂 Your response has me excited to write a post on “Stealth” once April’s A-Z challenge is over. I was totally busted last week when Son opened the recycle bin.

      It’s true about Kindergarten being the new first grade. Wierd how we make our kids grow up fast but adults work so hard to stay young (forty is the new thirty…) The school we picked for Son has dress-up clothes and free play stations in their first grade classrooms. It sounds like a small thing but to me it was proof that they practice what they preach when it comes to honoring children’s developmental stages.

  4. Oh the goodie bag thing hit a nerve here too.
    I remeber as a kid, you went to a party, you gave a gift, you played games and got a prize if you won, (not everyone won… huh weird that!) had party food and and left with a piece of cake wrapped in a paper napkin and a balloon (if you were lucky).
    I refuse to fill a goodie bag with more sweets knowing that kids have already had a weeks worth of sugary food at the party (it’s never the carrot sticks that go first :o/ ).
    Am I back to the bad Mummy thing again?!! Lol.

    1. We went to a party recently where the kids left with one of the balloons that had been used to decorate the room. I wanted to high-five the mom! I say we call ourselves “retro” and go back to the simpler times.

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