Have you ever had one of those moments when time slowed way down and you felt like you had entered a magical alternate dimension where you were eternally young and you were surrounded by happy children, friendly adults, sounds of laughter and cheering, and there was cake, too?
However. This week we came pretty close to that moment. The eighth-graders challenged their parents to a softball game to celebrate their emancipation from grade school and to demonstrate their "superior" athletic ability.
We creamed them. It was awesome.
But wait: let me backtrack for a moment. First of all, we (and by "we" I mean Poor Man's Ricardo Antonio Chavira (PMRAC), who is a 4th grade parent; yay, PMRAC!)) reserved a field at Thillens Stadium for two hours on Wednesday night. Thillens Stadium is an iconic part of Chicago history, where generations of Little Leaguers played under the lights, and Jack Brickhouse announced the play-by-play during the 1950s.
To play under the lights at Thillens is to be a part of something bigger than yourself. To play third base at Thillens as a 48-year-old, mini-van-driving, capri-pants-wearing mother of three, against about 40 eighth-graders and their younger siblings and schoolmates, and to throw your own son out at first base* in a slo-mo-replay moment, is to make history that will never be written, but will also never be forgotten.
After we shut the kids down in the first half inning, we grabbed our bats and took the kids to school. I put myself first in the grown-ups' line-up because I got there first, and the dads were too polite to object. I smashed a single between the cocky teenaged infielders, who were no doubt thinking to themselves, "Sink in, boys, sink in; it's just C. Peevie's mom; she can't hit!"
I rounded the bases when Eddie "The Babe" sent one into orbit, and crossed home plate gasping for air and begging for the paramedics to administer oxygen. "I need a defibrillator!" I wheezed, and Mr. Peevie said, "You need a work-out program." Like I have mentioned in the past, he has a bit of a mean streak.
Since there were little kids playing on the kid team, we let them have five outs per inning. We let them swing until they got a hit, and we "accidentally" fumbled the ball in the field. See, we wanted the little ones to have fun and success, but we had no such concern for the big kids.
O-Daddy and I formed an unbreachable wall covering third and short. I think he took one look at my out-of-shape self and thought to himself, "Oh well, it's just a game." But then! Then I fielded a short-hopper to third and threw to first with precision and grace (if I do say so myself), and O-Daddy's jaw dropped to the ground.
"Wo, Momma!" he said with admiration. "You got some mad skilz!"
"Yes, O-Daddy," I said. "I may look like a zaftig, past-her-softball-prime mama, but when I'm in ready position in the infield, I am still 17!"
The rest of the Mamas and the Papas did great as well, recalling the skills of their lost youths ("yutes," for those of you who are fans of My Cousin Vinny, one of the funniest movies of all time), some of them more lost than others.
The bleachers were filled with additional moms, dads, siblings, and friends who opted to watch the game in the comfort of their blankets (yay! Chicago in June!), coolers, and snacks. I joined them after the first game, having already caused enough damage to my so-called muscles and joints to keep me sore for three full days.
We beat the kids soundly in the first game, and then we sang "Happy Birthday to" C. Peevie because it was his actual b-day, and then I served homemade sheet cake, passing the slices around the bleachers and to the players on the field. The playing, the talking, the trash-talking, the celebrating, the remembering, the laughing, the hanging out in a truly cool locale--these were all gifts of grace and beauty in a troubled world.
It was magical. In the Presbyterian sense of the word, of course.
*My son remembers this differently. In his version, I bobble the grounder, and he's safe at first. But he's been known to have a distorted view of reality.