In the kitchen

Search This Blog

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

out in left field

Last fall I casually asked Ella if she wanted to try playing soccer.  "NO WAY!" was her hearty response.  This was also her response last year when I asked her if she wanted to play softball.  A few weeks ago I asked her if she wanted to try horseback riding camp this summer.  "Why would I want to do that?" was her reply. 
You see, Ella doesn't particularly like to try new things and she is a slightly anti- sports.  This is only mildly odd to me.  After all the mom whose biology she does not share comes from a long line of athletes, while the mom whose biology she does share only played elementary school softball because the hot dogs were so damn good.
And I mean good.  It was all about the toasted, buttered hot dog roll....It was what I dreamed about while I stood out in left field, squinting into the sunshine, gazing glassy-eyed at the game taking place seemingly without me.  The one or two times per game the ball headed in my direction everyone shouted my name to pull me from my reverie.  I would locate the ball flying overhead in the great, blue expanse, extend my arm like the Statue of Liberty with my glove at my torch, duck my head and close my eyes, praying the ball would land in the not-yet-broken-in leather on my hand. 
You see I really am a reformed couch potato myself. 
But then Ella's friends, the twins, were signed up for softball and their step-dad is their coach.  I casually mentioned this to Ella, followed by, "Any chance you are interested?"
This is so out of character for her I thought Sandi would think we were pulling her leg.
Sandi was a dedicated softball pitcher.   She was thrilled with this news. She promptly bought a glove for Ella (who wasn't super excited by its brown, rather than pink, hue) and then tied it up with string.  I guess this is a way to break it in but it just reminded me of some sort of oddball sports ritual.  (I tell you I really am out of the sports loop.)  Then she would walk around the house slamming a softball into the glove hard to soften up the leather, telling me if the glove wasn't properly broken in Ella would be frustrated.  
I felt like I was living with an eight-year-old boy getting ready for Little League.  All that was missing was some Big League Chew.
When my sister and her family came to visit I asked her to bring my niece Michaela's softball glove so the girls could play catch.  I thought it would inspire Ella to play with the cousin she hero worships. 
They did one better.  They brought all the gear.  Sandi and Brian even tossed the ball back and forth in the driveway and looked positively giddy.  Kathryn and I sat drinking tea, so happy to have them happy and so relieved that we didn't have to go out and pretend to know how to throw long like they can.
 But check out Maya up to bat with her purse.
She got some pointers from Uncle Brian who, luckily, didn't take a bat to the head.  It is a tough call with Maya: have her hit the ball out toward the cars or back toward the garage with its fragile metal door?
Before they left the kids had a family sing along.  Except the adults weren't allowed to sing and we were scowled at for doing so.   They did a jazzy version of "Down By the Bay" and Ella and Michaela also performed the songs on my guitar they had spent an hour writing in a bedroom with the door closed.  (I don't think they ever did play softball.)  "Ohhhh,  I feel so alone on the playground.... on the playground..."  Really upbeat numbers like that.
The really cool thing about the wave of interest in softball, though, comes in the moments when Sandi gets home from the hospital early enough to play outside with the kids.  I usually relish the quiet time to make dinner alone, although one day they came in and said, "Want to come play with us?"  Trying to live by my new outlook of participating in my own life, I dropped the laundry, turned the stove off and went outside to play (and photograph).

She might have an unattractive brown glove, but at least she scored a pink helmet.

Chalk lines for Maya's feet position meant chalk lines for Ella.  Whatever it takes.

When Ella was up to bat, Maya was the fielder.
The pictures tell it all.

This was her system for getting the balls home.
Ella then tried her hand at being pitched to.  It was challenging.  But I told her to take all her aggression, all her pent up anger and frustration when we tell her not to lay her hands on her sister but she wants to and smack that ball.  Our sweet, sensitive, won't-harm-a-lady-bug child swung HARD.

Sandi came inside and said, "I'm am so happy to be out there playing with them and teaching them how to play softball.  It gives me something to do with them besides playing dolls, which I just don't know how to play and don't really like at all." 

Maya is a natural at most things athletic, this included, and she has quite a resentment that she can't be on the team. It's hard being the younger sister.

I am so relieved that Sandi can prep Ella so well for this because if she were to show up at practice on day one and have no exposure, she would struggle to be successful.  Her own fear and self-doubt would put her at risk for immobilization.  And I want more for her than hot dog (veggie dog?) daydreams and being terrified of the next pop fly.

No comments:

Site Meter