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playing the game

paul is registered in a local tee-ball league. he had his first practice the other day, and from what i heard and what i saw (my mother picked me up from work so that cam could take paul -- and nola -- to practice; we arrived at the park at the tail-end), it was not the most successful mission ever.

on the way to the park, my mother and i discussed pauls and sports. i am not particularly keen on tee-ball. i am not particularly keen on team sports in general. i had kind of figured maybe we'd enroll paul in a martial art, maybe something academic, i don't know, something a little less prone to be populated by sports-parents and blame.

my brother spent a very short period of time in little league. i remember him with a red face, wheezing, big-eyed. i always thought he quit because of the asthma attacks, but my mother fondly and nostalgically dispelled that notion.

my mom: he thought if he knew...
me: statistics?
my mom: he thought if he knew everything about it, he would be able to play.
my mom: he thought if he knew all the rules... who was the best...
my mom: if he knew statistics, he thought he'd be able to hit the ball.

she laughed a little ruefully. he was so nervous, so anxious, so plainly miserable that my mother convinced my father to take him out of little league. my dad didn't believe her at first, but he eventually saw what she saw. it was not fun; it was disillusionment and confusion. that was the end of paul's baseball career. he continued to have a fondness for the sport, watching, studying, but not playing. he was no athlete. he just wasn't.

it was a sad, sad little story. i look at my own little paul and wonder what his experience will be like. will he be a good player? it's a little early to tell, but i fear for him. when i tried to talk to him about tee-ball a few months ago, he boasted of skill without ever having tested it. now that he's going to see that there's a lot to learn, he is not going to take it so well. (oh god, and how i dread the kids and parents and what they'll say to my poor sensitive boy.) people may think i'm overreacting -- maybe i am overreacting -- but this is not a child who stomps blithely through life. this is a child who screamed about failure because he couldn't draw a dinosaur the way he saw it in his head. no child is a failure, especially at the age of five. (yes yes, i understand this is supposedly common for kids this age, but i don't care about all kids this age. i don't need to care about all kids this age.) i fear the road of disillusionment and confusion that may lie ahead.

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