Facing Fear

My son got hit last week and it may have been the best thing to ever happen to him. Let me explain…

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My nine-year-old son has played for four years and today is a good player. When he was younger he was one of the better players (t-ball, coaches pitching) and he IS a pitcher in a division of kids who are largely older than him. He also has a vision issue which has him wearing sports goggles (and which we discovered only two years ago-see picture above). What has held him back this last season is fear. He is afraid of the ball not when he pitches or is playing defense but when he’s hitting. I can relate. Fear holds me back too. It’s the single greatest obstacle I put in my own way. Maybe you can relate. He can get on base, but he’s a walker. And it frustrates him because he knows its not due to him not having the ability. He knows he’s afraid too.

So last weekend he got hit in the back with a baseball when getting up to bat. It was his greatest fear, the worst possible case scenario. And (on that particular occasion) it actually wasn’t so bad. Because his coaches, teammates and parents knew this was a soft spot we all were waiting to see his reaction. Because lots of us were parents, we remembered lessons from early childhood–that when they fall, they take their reactions from you– so we didn’t all rush in. We waited. And guess what…He shook it off and took his base. It was awesome. And an important lesson was learned: staying in the box was possible, getting hit wasn’t insurmountable… One fear down.

I know I seems like I am slightly obsessed with baseball lately and these posts don’t really jibe with my protests of sports/life analogies. However, when you have a nine-year-old in little league they are hard to avoid and even harder to be immune to.

So this weekend (the game following “The Hit“) I am sitting in the bleachers at his game. My lovely son comes up to bat and I am breaking into a sweat. I am literally sitting behind the batters box. His stance looks beautiful to me (but what do I know). He looks so mature to me, but then again, I haven’t sat this close to him batting in a long time. First pitch comes and he lets it go… It’s low. The second comes, and he hits it. And you hear it. It bounces into the outfield and he takes first base. The rush and joy I feel is immeasurable. I literally smack the thigh of the team manager. He doesn’t make it home as another out happens before he can, but who cares… He got on base from a hit he batted in.

I have a few fears holding me back, and some opportunities to face them have suddenly appeared. I too can decide to stay “in the box” and see what happens, how hard the hits come… And I too may be surprised. Either way, it would be nice to say “one fear down.”

RELATED LINKS:
Little League
Single Digits
Parenting Limbo
Papa K

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