I read a Times Herald column by Jeff Edelstein, “When it comes to 5-year-old Little League baseball, I was 100 percent wrong,” and it summoned memories of steamy summer days at Cross Bayou Little League, in Largo, Fl. I can sympathize with him, as he watched his 5-year-old son get hit by a line drive.
Did I ever experience this fear? No. Not at all.
Even though my family spent thousands and thousands of hours at the ball field, from Tee Ball to Big League, I’ve never been afraid my son would be hurt physically.
No, but I was a worry wart.
I worried about the emotional turmoil players felt when they believed they carried the fate of their team each time they stepped up to the plate, or slipped on a glove. I worried about the taunts and harassment from other players and especially the parents.
What else did I worry about? I worried about preparing the field for the first day of play. I worried about the septic tank backing up on Opening Day (it did). I worried about fishing roaches out of the frying oil when nobody emptied it the previous season (I did).
I worried about a lot of things, but I was never afraid my son would be physically hurt playing baseball. I think the reason I didn’t experience Edelstein’s fear is because I was busy at the ball field.
I spent my time as a volunteer for Little League. Not a mom. Rather than hover over my child, I worked as a vice president, a team mom, a concession stand volunteer, a team sponsor, a parade organizer, a chauffeur for players needing a ride to the field, a babysitter for parents who had to work late, a grunt carrying equipment bags and a gopher running home for missing jock straps and gloves.
I did all of this so that my son and everyone else’s son and daughter could enjoy their time playing Little League Baseball. I did the same thing for my daughter and her fellow Girl Scouts.
Maybe that’s the cure for a parent’s fear: keep busy as a volunteer. Worrying is one thing. It motivates you to improve. Fear paralyzes you.
My son is grown and has a dangerous job. Am I afraid? No. Do I worry. Oh yes. All the time. But he loves what he’s doing and he does it well, and I think much of his bravery stems from his time as a Little Leaguer. It takes a lot of courage for a 5-year-old to step up to the plate, swing that bat and hit a line drive. It takes even more to stand in the way of that line drive and try to stop it. Don’t fear for our Little Leaguers. Let them play ball. Cheer them on and be proud.