Friday, May 02, 2014

Hurts So Good I was Aaron's age, I was madly into baseball.  I collected baseball cards, read all my library's baseball books, and played (or dreamed about playing) all the time.

I was always a really good fielder - constantly throwing the ball against the garage door and fielding it will do that - but hitting took time for me to master.  So I had many an at-bat that involved three whiffs and then a long and sullen walk back to the dugout.  Many times, like if it was a key point in the game, I would cry.  Striking out hurt, and I wanted to get better so bad.  Eventually, I did.

Aaron's different.  He's not at all baseball-crazy, but prefers the camaraderie of his teammates over the game itself.  He couldn't name one major-leaguer past or present, but knows everyone on his team and gets along with all of them really well.  And, being a city kid who keeps a busy schedule, he doesn't have the same opportunity to play or watch all the time like I did.

So he's not very good.  Which I'm OK with, really.  What's weird to me, though, is how little he cares.  We went to practice a couple of weeks ago and he got 25 pitches to swing at.  He swung and missed 23 of them, fouled one off, and weakly tapped one back to the pitcher.  But when one of his teammate's dads passed by us as we were leaving the field and asked how Aaron's hitting was going, Aaron said confidently, "I did good."

Self-confidence is a good thing.  But delusion is not.  It's strange to me that Aaron doesn't realize that he in fact didn't do good hitting, and even weirder that he doesn't care to get better.

You're going to accuse me of being an overbearing dad, and you're probably right.  But I don't think I am on this issue.  I haven't banished him to my basement baseball drill area to hit balls hanging from the ceiling for hours on end.  The only words I give him in public are encouraging ones.  And even when I'm trying to instruct him on how to improve, I try to be unfailingly positive.

The fact of the matter is that Aaron doesn't care about the actual mechanics of baseball, nor does he care that he's not good at it, and nor does he care to get better.  Baseball is probably not his thing, and so I'm not going to push him.  But I do want to push him to realize that there are going to be things that he's not good at at first, but that he should care enough about getting better at that it would hurt when he fails and that he would put in the effort to improve.

Little League isn't going to prepare him for a career in professional baseball.  But I want it to prepare him to understand when he's not good at something, accept that he didn't do good and have it hurt a little, and have a little want in him to work hard to get better. 
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