Monday, October 08, 2007

BAT-HER UP by (me!) sandra, ttgp

my daughter played girls softball for the first time last year. three games, i believe before she fractured her wrist roller-blading, and spent the rest of her first season as a cheerleader in the dugout. but she loves the game.

and so wanted to try out this year for the more competitive "uppers" division.

"are you sure?" i ask her. "don't you think maybe at least one full season of recreational softball might be a good idea first?"

"no. i want to try out for the uppers." she was excited and confident. "very good then."

and so her father, brother and i, all went with her to the tryouts. i could see right away, she was nervous. and could also see right away, the other players were more experienced. -far more experienced.

still, she got on out there. started warming up with a sixth grader who threw so direct, fast, strong, my daughter couldn't catch many. she also had to scoot in a few feet for her throws to reach this more experienced, larger, taller warm up partner.

it was hard to watch. her brother went for a bike ride, her father played catch with a little boy; a sibling of one of the girls trying out, and i engaged in conversation with a fellow mom. every once in a while i would glance over. see she was still out there.. still chasing balls she couldn't catch. throwing too short for her partner to catch. my stomach, like shrink wrap under a heat gun. then i would glance over, and see her catch one, throw a strong one a fair distance. all right. look at that.

meanwhile, off to the sides, three or four judges with clipboards: look up, watch, study, look down, pencil in results.

and then, at last, the torture was over and the girls started to empty the field.

at least i thought it was over. turns out

that was just warm up. all the girls just moved from one field to the next and now.. now it's time for the actual tryouts. each girl going up to bat individually to show the judges what they're made of.

i looked at my daughter standing in line. wanted in the worst way to rescue her. she seemed so out of her league in this environment. her father, reading my mind, said, "let her be, she'll find out what it's all about."

i'm torn. think to myself.. if she feels willing and able, who am i to stop her?

i continue -deeply engaged- in conversation with this fellow mom. we talk about cost-co shopping, music lessons, the weather, our children's homework

until i am interrupted by a bump in my side.

it's my daughter. she is looking up at me with the most precious look of concern. "do i have to do this part, mommy?"

"of course not. not if you don't want to."

and so we tracked down her father and brother and started leaving the ballpark.

the fellow mom i had been talking to expressed surprise that i would not spend time coaching my daughter back in with words like, "you can do it, just finish what you started.." and things of that nature

and another parent, one helping at the registration desk, came over to us, "why are you leaving? this is the main part of the tryouts."

her father quickly offered up, "she's decided to play with her friends on the rec team. none of her friends from school that she likes to play with are in the uppers."

and taryn's face revealed such relief. perfect words at the perfect time.

the balance of her day included a sleep-over party at a friends house, which i know helped put the whole day in perspective and behind.

next day being sunday, i had a chance to talk to her at our picnic after church

"i've spied a leader in you since you were in kindergarten," i told her, "and to see you now in 5th grade, part of the traffic safety team after school, part of the peace-keepers team. you make me very proud. but i was especially proud of you on that softball field the other day,"

and she looked directly at me with such curious and hopeful eyes

"here's the thing about leaders," i continued, "they sometimes leave when the crowd is staying. and they sometimes stay when the crowd is leaving. they sometimes stay when the crowd stays and sometimes leave when the crowd leaves. but always - their decision is not based on what the crowd is doing. leaders make their own decisions based on their own circumstances."

and she smiled my favorite smile and we went on to enjoy our picnic and board game, over the grass, near the trees and under the sun with auntie keeshie and the gang all in the mix.

thank you God. ~amen.


and thank you mom and dad. is there any tracking how many times i've insisted in jumping in over my head? looks like sink or swim

but ends up tread and dog paddle

"by God, she's made it back to shore again!"

your wish has come true. i've got one just like me ") i love you! ~s.