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Catcher

My 10 year old plays Little League baseball so I’ve been spending most weekends sitting on the bleachers, watching him, rooting for his team.  Some days the games are fast-paced, lots of hitting and running and base-stealing and others they are the molasses of baseball, the type of endless humdrum that make me want to fast-forward the game.

This season I learned to love baseball, to respect the traditions, to anticipate the way each kid approaches to bat. Some kids hit the home plate with their bat in preparation, other take a few practice swings. My son does something that resembles a swivel with the bat, its tip barely moving, but letting me know that he’s ready.

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I’ve cried at baseball this year. I cried when they won, I cried when my son stole a base, I cried when he came back from a game with a black eye because he had collided with the first baseman.

But nothing, nothing gets me as chocked up as when I watch my son put on his catcher’s gear.

I’m not sure I understand it myself.

Partly it’s the fact that a 10 year old boy who will at times still ask me to help him pull up a pair of socks because “they get stuck, Mom!” can handle the catcher’s equipment, snapping the snaps and lowering the Hannibal Lector mask over his face.

Partly it’s that I–I! a woman who loathed  the period between classes at college because I had to cross The Green and risk getting hit in the head with a Frisbee, that same I now have a son who will put his body and head in the path of a baseball thrown with great force.

Partly it’s that when I see him squat behind the batter with his right arm held behind his back (Why do you do that, I’d asked.  Because I don’t want to get hit by the ball, he told me) I know that all my warnings of danger aside, he respects the game enough to heed its warnings.

Partly it’s that I know how good he is at catching and that I will soon hear the satisfying bam of the ball landing in his mitt.

Yes, I get weepy for all these reasons.  But also because I realize that he is no longer my baby. That he is playing in a world with its own rules, taking risks that I would never assume.  He loves the game, and as much as I love watching him play, whenever he puts on his catcher’s gear, I know that he is growing up and away. As he should be.  They’re happy tears.  Mostly.

 

Read Marinka’s personal blog, Motherhood in NYC and follow her on Twitter!

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