Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Trouble at Tee-Ball

I never know what to say (or if I should say anything) when meanness catches me off guard. One kid on my son's tee-ball team is having a miserable time. He's not very coordinated, and he often sits or lies down on the field during games. The coaches (the kiddo's dad included) take turns cheering him on and literally picking him up, but the kid obviously doesn't want to be there. His mom, however, really wants him to be there, and she's constantly yelling at him in front of everyone. I've even seen her push her son when he's standing near the dugout, looking lost and uninterested. "Get out there already!" she'll shout, shoving her son toward the field. I know I'm not the only one who notices this. Granted, there's probably a lot more to the story than what we all see. I don't know what other problems or stresses this family has. I don't know what this kid's history is. I don't know a lot of things. All I know is that I feel extremely sad when I see this woman treat her son the way she does.

At yesterday's tee-ball game, a player's sibling fell and skinned her knee. I volunteered our first aid kit, which I'd brought only because my son had skinned his elbow at the previous game and the coach's first aid supplies had seen better days. Plus, I'm great at 20/20 hindsight! :-) Anyway, the injured girl was wailing and obsessing over her skinned knee, and her mom bandaged her up, reassuring her that yes, she could bend her knee, and yes, she could still walk, and yes, it sure hurt at the moment but she would be okay, and before long the girl was playing with the other kids and all was well. After the game, in a "kids will be kids" kind of way, the girl's mom said her daughter always obsesses over injuries; another mom mentioned that her son does that, too, so she just puts him on the phone with his grandma when that happens, and Grandma distracts him with pleasant chitchat during the bandaging process. "Great idea!" someone said.

Mean Mom heard us and chimed in: "When my son does that, I just pinch him hard on his arm and tell him, 'See? Now your knee won't bother you so much!'" She seemed serious.

The rest of us were speechless.

After everyone else packed up their gear and headed for home, my kiddo stayed on the field with his dad, hitting easy pitches and gathering up foul balls. I cheered him on and we stayed until the kiddo seemed to get a little tired. I hugged him afterward, then we all walked to the parking lot together and I kissed him before he rode off with his dad, to a house where I knew he'd get lots of hugs, a yummy supper, a warm bath, a little video game time, more hugs and a snuggle before bedtime.

I'm still wondering what that other kid went home to.