This weekend, we traveled back and forth to Cullman three days in a row to play baseball. Four games in three days. So that's approximately six hours in the car for about three hours of baseball. Sounds crazy when I spell it all out like that, doesn't it? But you know what... I would travel to the ends of the earth to watch my little man play baseball. Anywhere. Anytime.
Friday night, we played a local team with several boys we have played with in our city league. David was struggling at the plate his first two times at bat, popping up once for an easy out and then thrown out at first the other time. When he took his place on deck for the third attempt, I told him to hit it for me.
"Relax, David... hit this one for your Mama!"
And so he did. He sailed it into left field, brought in two runs, and managed to cross the plate himself. I believe it's the fastest I have ever seen him run in his little life. As he touched the plate and came running back toward the dugout, the smile that was spread across the entire width of his face was worth a fifteen hour drive to play.
It was an amazing weekend of baseball. David made some great stops at first base. Our little Bandits finally got their first real double play. They have been working so hard on it, and all these boys wanted to pull it off so bad! And they did... it was amazing! Our second baseman made a great stop, touched his bag, and threw the ball to David at first for the out. You would have thought we had won the World Series the way we all cheered for our little men. It's just such a joy to watch these boys play with such heart and pride. So pure - the joy, the effort, the pain of loss - everything in the purest state. The lessons they are learning on that field - digging in your heels and fighting, composure under pressure, encouraging your team mates. These are all lessons they will carry throughout their lives. Some of these boys will be friends for life and bonded through their experiences. It's just been such an amazing opportunity to be on this team with such talented boys and great parents. Every hour spent in the car is worth it to see those smiling faces and red clay spread on their pants.
My ride home yesterday was fretful, however. I knew I had to have a talk with my stellar baseball player when I got home about his performance off the field. He is learning new words at a rapid pace these days and was overheard by another parent trying to teach some little ones a new word - the "bad word for butt" that "rhymes with Alaska." I was mortified. This is not his typical behavior (I don't think - I hope not), and I had to address it with him. He simply can't be teaching anyone bad words. What made it even worse was that this was just days after I heard him using a foul word with my own ears. I know it's just a part of growing up - learning new ways to express yourself, thinking things sound cool, not understanding why you hear certain words in our music on the radio but are not supposed to say them yourself. I know he is reaching a difficult age as he tries to sort through what he has been taught and what he sees in the outside world. And as I told him last night during my painful confrontation with him, I expect more from him. Maybe I haven't shown him enough through my own life that we should be better and different than those around us; I know I haven't, and it's a challenge I struggle with every day. To set myself apart from the rest of the world. To challenge myself to be a better person. What a humbling experience it is to be a parent and be constantly reminded of your responsibility to another human being. I owe these kids everything - discipline, love, example, honesty, righteousness. So as I handed down my punishment to David (no MP3 player, DS, PlayStation, computer time for two weeks - and running two extra laps around the field at each practice for the duration as well), I admonished myself inwardly. Maybe I do okay holding my tongue around my children, but I have not been the best light in their world. I am a light, just not nearly as bright as I could be.
So, like my little Bandits that practice so hard and work with such passion on the field, I will continue to work on my soul. More studying of God's word. More prayer. More self control. Every day working on a better me, and a better example for my children. Less spiritual back and forth.