Mr No-Sports Says Yes

C recently asked me if I thought he was a cool kid. Of course, I said he was the coolest. He looked thoughtful and then said, “Hmm. Sometimes I think it’s the kids who play sports who are the cool kids.”

I told him that everyone had their own interests, yadda yadda, but also told him that being on a team was a great way to make good friends and that a lot of the people who played sports together also hung together at school. (In my mind? Yep. The sports kids are usually the ‘cool’ ones. But I’d never want him to feel like he needed to be cooler than he is, or that he somehow doesn’t measure up.)

He’s a really athletic and muscular kid, and he’s really active – likes to run and do triathlons, and sports like swimming and karate – but never really took to team sports, despite our encouragement. This means that at recess when a lot of the boys play football, he hangs with the kids who don’t like sports and plays running/chasing games and things like tetherball. He feels a little bit left out, but not enough that he joins in on the games.

A few days after asking me about being a cool kid, he told me he’d like to try playing baseball. Great! Lots of the moms at school had already started bemoaning the start of the practice season, so I knew it was too late to get him on a team with his school friends. And actually, I thought this was better since he’s never played before and his friends are all super competitive. I really wanted him to enjoy his first baseball experience, without the added pressure of his friends criticizing or judging him. (If you don’t have kids, you might not know that 9 is now considered very old to be playing baseball for the first time, so he’s really far behind. Sad but true.) So I found a recreational league at our local Y and got him on the waiting list.

We got the call on Friday that he’ll be on a team, so we did what any other suburban American family would do in this situation: went to Academy and bought out the store. We bought a bat, a glove for me, a pitching machine that shoots out smaller balls for batting practice, a knobby baseball that bounces unpredictably (for fielding practice), and this long pole thingy with a ball attached to it that Frank can hold or swing toward C, who’ll hit it with the bat. It’s a great tool that avoids us having to chase balls all day long.

Bottom line: we’re all really excited about the season, and if C doesn’t shine it won’t be for lack of tools.

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