The Dust.

The Evil Spawn is 9 years old (at least today she is 9… when I wake up tomorrow she will be 27).

During this stage of her life, I am required to be somewhere watching her do something at least 3 nights a week.

Different seasons bring different sports.

Every season brings on a case of bleacher butt, but that’s an entirely different blog.The Evil Spawn.  Softball Stud (or Not).

Soccer (ugh), basketball, golf, and softball all have a place on the family calendar.

Sometimes I coach.

Sometimes I get lucky and don’t have to coach.

Summer means softball.

It also means I’m not that lucky.

I’m coaching.

Every practice presents a new challenge.

One night it’s parents.  Another night it might be me spending 30 minutes trying to figure out why half the girls didn’t bring gloves (yet they NEVER forget their pink helmets, pink batting gloves, and pink shoes).

On a bad night I might stand in the outfield and wonder how mosquitoes get as big as cats.

Normally, I just wonder why I agreed to coach.

Coaching little girls must be similar to childbirth.

A few months after the painful parts, your mind goes blank and you forget what a horrific experience it was.

But it’s not all bad.

Once in a while something happens and I’m thankful I was there to see it.

Or hear it.

Like tonight.

I told a young lady to go play first base.

She was so excited.

She pointed and said, “Last year they (coaches) never let me play here!”

I said, “First base?”

“No”, she said, “On the dust.”

“On the dust?”, I responded.

“Yes, here on the dust” as she pointed to the ground.

Then I got it.

She never got to play in the infield.

Or now as it’s known.

The dust.

Coaching is fun.

At least until the next labor pain.

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What Kind of Father Strikes Out Their Own Kid? That Would Be Me.

Even the Umpire Doesn't Like Me.We played our first game last night (of course I mean my daughter’s first game).

It pains me to announce that my career coaching girls’ softball has fallen to 0-1.

The important thing is that everyone had fun. And by everyone, I mean the girls on the team.

Parents and coaches were a little uptight. Everyone seemed nervous (and at times borderline miserable, and by miserable I mean certifiably nuts), so I don’t think the experience was quite as upbeat for the adults.

The girls did a great job hustling and tried their best. Unfortunately, one of the many life lessons that can be learned in sports is that your best doesn’t always translate into a win.

But that is okay. Victories can’t be judged entirely by a score; they should be judged on the effort put into the score (quick, someone call the bumper sticker people because I just had an epiphany).

Since this was our team’s first real game, it was also the first time these young ladies have experienced an official loss.

Sure, they have always had an idea which team “won” in soccer or t-ball, but as an upstanding God-fearing rule-abiding adult/coach, it has always been my job to tell the team that we weren’t keeping score so there was no winner or loser (we didn’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings).

To which the kids would invariably respond, we won 5 to 2.

Turns out kids don’t need a scoreboard to make them more or less competitive (adults are the only ones who think if we don’t tell them who won, they will have no idea… right).

Last night’s game provided a challenge for the whole family.

I had to coach and pitch to our team.

The Queen of Technology was in charge of coaching 1st base and keeping the scorebook (a huge obstacle because she was forced to use pencil and paper; no laptop or SmartBoard… it wasn’t pretty, she almost had a breakdown).

Oh yeah, there was one more person from our family who was involved in the game, our daughter (I have noticed that she always has time to play, but never time to clean her room).

Right before the game, I asked her if she was nervous. She responded, “Why?”

Wait until she is a parent and has to watch the games. Then she will truly understand nerves.

In our league the girls get 6 pitches to hit. If they don’t hit one of the six, it is a strike out (yes, we have gone from not keeping score to striking Miley Cyrus wannabes out right and left).

For the last week, I have been having a reoccurring dream in which my daughter is up to bat and I strike her out every time.

In the dream and in real life, it is not that she can’t hit (a switch hitter by the way; I am very proud), it is that her father can’t throw her a strike.

And with my lack of pitching skills, she fails miserably. Over and over, I strike her out, 87 times in a row. I hate that dream.

Plus, I don’t want to anger her. She could bide her time until her 18th birthday and then take over my finances while throwing me in a nursing home (trust me, she has a mean streak).

Watching your child participate in sports is both nerve-racking and exciting. You want them to be successful, but that isn’t always going to happen.

I have spent a good deal of my life playing and coaching and I must admit I don’t ever remember being so nervous before a game (although at my age, I can’t remember what I had for breakfast).

When it was her turn to bat all I could think of was… don’t cause her to fail.

I know in athletics and in life, she will fail often. And there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. There are many lessons to learn from not succeeding.

This I know (sadly from lots of experience).

I also know that I don’t want to set her up for failure. This means I was feeling the pressure.

She walked up to bat in all of her pinkness. She got in the batter’s box and turned and looked at me, then smiled (just like Moonlight Graham in the best movie ever… Field of Dreams). It was a great big, this is fun smile.

Me, I wasn’t smiling.

I got myself together and threw her a pitch. She swung and got her first hit.

She was thrilled (almost as much as mom) and I couldn’t have been more proud. And relieved. Really relieved.

Raising a child is tough.

Trying to throw a strike when you know a trip to the nursing home is on the line makes it that much harder.

She finished the game 2-3 with one strikeout, but had a great time. At least that is what she says to my face. Just to be safe, I am in the process of moving what little money I have to an offshore account.

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