The Sights... The Sounds... The Smells...

When I was a kid, my absolute favorite thing about summer was playing softball. I lived for it-I waited for it-and I thought there was nothing better than walking on the field to play.

My husband was also a ball player. We grew up in the same hometown just a few blocks from each other and in this little town, baseball and softball were what summers were made of. As a child I was either playing ball or watching someone play ball. When I would go out with friends, we would always ride our bikes to the ball park to see who was there (which would be everyone) and who was playing (which may have been a boy that I had a crush on).

Our town was small enough that kids were able to ride their bikes to every practice and game. Parents would come later with coolers full of kool-aide and paper cups, and after the game mom and dad would load up the kids' bikes into the back of the station wagon and all of the players would climb in the back of the coaches pick up trucks and the winning teams would chant "WE'RE NUMBER ONE!" all the way to the local ice cream shop where every kid in town would congregate and get their 50 cent ticket to ice cream or candy.

It was the life let me tell you... and I loved every inch of it.

Today, my two oldest children play ball and I wait for it... I live for it... and the only thing better than being out on the field playing is sitting on the bleachers watching one of my kids play.

Aaron loves baseball. He dreams of being a major league baseball player (for the Chicago Cubs of course) and let me tell you... I am sure that is my husband's dream as well. Now that Aaron is 11, it is much more fun to watch his games and practices than when he was in t-ball and we were basically watching paint dry. Today-it is exciting! The boys are like little men out there stealing, sliding, hitting, catching, and yes... spitting sunflower seeds. They have hand signals and they know how to hustle on and off the field.

Last night was Aaron's first baseball practice and I sat in the bleachers watching bursting with pride at my boy who loves baseball. There is nothing more exciting than watching your kid do something they love-something that they feel driven to be good at-and something that you yourself loved to do as a kid.

I am only sad that my husband is not here to coach his boy this season. I know it is tearing him apart having to miss out on the smell of the dirt, the yell of the umpire and yes... the spitting of the sunflower seeds.

Hope loves softball which makes me so excited that I can hardly contain myself. She is good too... she hustles, she is scrappy and she knows all of the good cheers to scream at the other team's pitcher.

Last night was Hope's first softball practice and I sat on the bleachers and watched her, bursting with pride at my girl who loves softball. The sound of the fast pitch whirling in, the crack of the bats and the umpire yelling "You're SAFE!" Just gets me giddy with excitement.

Hope is 14 so the days of us wondering when the inning would be over are through. These girls know what they are doing and they are going to do it until they shove it down your throat. It is exciting, it is raw, and it is everything I love about softball.

I was so proud of Hope last night with her hustle, and I love the fact that Hope actually listens to me when I tell her to run faster, change her batting stance or to keep her eye open because the ball is coming her way. She and I are in synch when it comes to playing ball-and she doesn't think anything of it when I stand in the bleachers and yell "WHAT'R YA PULLING A TRAIN?" to her when she is running the bases.

I am also sad that The Ward is missing softball season this year. Ward has coached Hope every year since she started softball and my heart broke a little when she walked out onto the field without him last night. I know it is tearing him apart to not be here... but when I saw the boys that were hanging out at the field last night checking out the girls who were playing, I thought that this may be a good year for him to miss. God help us all.


Thank the Lord ball season has started again... it's what we Cleavers wait for the other 9 months out of the year... I only hope this year I don't get tossed out of any games for yelling at the umpire (unless of course he is as blind as a bat.)


(Keri) Auburn Gal Always said...

Sissy is playing machine-pitch softball this year. I love it.

I love watching all the girls learn and grow and improve.

But, honestly? I would trade all the softball in the world to watch any kids anywhere play t-ball. Back when Sissy played, it was a very demanding and stressful work time for me. I LIVED for t-ball practices and games to really and truly LIFT LIFE OFF MY SHOULDERS.

I laughed and forgot the burdens that awaited me at home and work.

T-ball will have my heart forever.

Yet, I love watching any team play softball or baseball or t-ball. I love the game too.

Carrie said...

I can't wait til my kids are big enough for those things. My oldest is just 5 and playing soccer for her 3rd season. It's still like bees around a flower, but I'll pay a few bucks a week to watch it. And she loves it, that's what is important. (even if they have a game on Good Friday..grrrr)

Marie said...

We are a baseball family as well. LOVE this time of year!

Karen said...

You're such a great writer!

Anonymous said...

To Hope and Aaron,
GO TEAM GO! Have a fun season.

Aunt Barbara

Denn Mom said...

Oh I love this post. I could not have written it better myself...well, because you're a better writer that me. But I so share the sentiment. I lived for all my softball games growing up (I loved to get dirty. I was an expert slider.), I "coached" t-ball and I just can't wait until my kids are old enough to play!

Kathleen's world said...

Ah, memories of being Sunny. :)