Sunday, March 1, 2009

Frozen Pasttime

The sky is a dirty cotton sheet dropping dandruff on the shoulders of the city. The snow is blowing sideways, there are 17 degrees outside, and it's that time of year again: time to sign the kids up for Little League.

I find it difficult to think about baseball when I'm still wearing a parka, my fingers feel numb from frostbite, and there is ice forming on the inside of my windows. But alas, that is the lot of a sports-mom in this frozen tundra we call home. The first game will be May 9--which seems as far away as the Cubs' next World Series title.

This year we're back to three kids playing ball. (Hooray for the multi-player discount! It saved us $60.) A. Peevie and M. Peevie both took a season off last year, so we only had one set of practices, games, uniforms, team snacks, and injuries to deal with. There have been times in the past when we've had three kids in three different games (in one park) at the same time. Parents who juggle multiple baseball schedules deserve presents.

Meanwhile, M. Peevie was a little conflicted about the whole baseball thing until we told her that she could sign up for softball if she'd prefer. Being the inappropriate, pushy mom that I am, I have my dreams for her, namely that she will be the first woman in Major League Baseball. (That was my dream for myself, but then reality set in. Damn reality.) If she switches to softball so soon, it might diminish her chances, and then who will be supporting me in my old age?

As I have noted in a previous post, this girl has mad skilz, so I'm looking forward to her inaugural softball season almost as much as I would have anticipated seeing her showing the boys how to play baseball.

A. Peevie has decided to play again, although within four hours of Mr. Peevie putting the money on the table, he was already having second thoughts. "You didn't sign me up for Majors?" he whined. "Then I'm not playing." Majors, even though he's the right age, would have chewed him up and spit him out. He is smaller and far less experienced than the gigantic ringers that coaches recruit for majors.

A. Peevie was so distressed and obsessed about his "demotion" to the Minors (even though if he went to the Majors, he'd actually be skipping an entire level of play) that he was starting to get hives. Or maybe that was me getting hives because I'm allergic to whining.

I attempted to convert his thinking through logic: A.P., I told him, you have to take the leagues in order. You can't skip minors, and go straight from Bronco to majors! He would have none of it. "I'm old enough and I want to play in majors," he said. I think he just liked the sound of it: Majors. It just sounds better than minors.

I knew it would be a tough sell, so I skipped the fear strategy ("You might get hit by a fastball!") and went straight for bribery. "A. Peevie," I said winningly, "How can I help you feel better about playing in the minors? How about if we institute a reward system?"

His waxy ears perked up. "What if I said I'd give you a prize if you hit a single?" I said, knowing full well that I was heading down a dangerous road called Precedent. "Like maybe I'd take you out for ice cream if you got a hit?" Well, rewards is a language that A. Peevie is fluent in. He rushed to his room and drew up a detailed contract of prizes for offensive and defensive successes.

As I signed on the dotted line it occurred to me that he might not make it to the real MLB as a player--but he has the nascent skills of an MLB agent. Nothing will give me greater pleasure than buying him a book for hitting a double--but I did salvage my parenting reputation by reminding him that I would reward him just for going out there and giving it a good try, learning some new skills, and not being the kid in the outfield watching an ant lug a dead roly poly across the dirt.

C. Peevie, on the other hand, does not need external motivation to give baseball his all. He's been waiting by the front door with his glove since the season ended last August. The other day he asked me to go outside and have a catch (or "play catch," if you're not from my beautiful neck of the woods in the most beautiful county in the USA, Bucks County, PA) . Temps were below freezing, and I declined.

So stay tuned for the stories of summer baseball in Chicago--which cannot come soon enough. And in the meantime, you can catch up on my previous stories on The Little League Coach.

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