I Just Wait the Whole Day for My Turn!

The gender of your child isn’t all that important, I know. But when I found out we’d be having a boy – and then two boys – I was very excited.

I was a tomboy. I climbed trees and played sports and never had any interest in dolls or makeup or sewing. I am from the era when I was forced to wear skirts and dresses to school, so these were the girly things I was “supposed” to like. (I am old.)

When I visualized my future children – several decades before I had any – I only chose boys’ names. I couldn’t come up with any girl names that I liked. (I can now, although they are still rather ambiguous.) Before we knew they were males, we’d finally agreed on Casey (for Dylan) and Jamie (for Shane) – both of which can be used as boys’ names, too.

It was also important to me that I spend my adult years hovering near the dugout while my kids played baseball. I pictured myself in the bleachers, cheering as the little guys raced around the bases.

So I put them both on the baseball field at age five. I bought them a tiny glove and a tiny hat and plunked them out there, waiting for my dream to begin.

By the age of six, though, both boys hated baseball.

“I just stand there,” Dylan whined. “There’s nothing to do!”

Three years later, I had a similar conversation with Shane: “It’s so boring!” Shane told me. “I just wait the whole day for my turn to bat!”

I realized, too late, that I hadn’t spent enough time preparing them for the doldrums that happen while the other team is at bat. I also didn’t explain why baseball is fun, even when you’re just standing there.

Maybe we just didn’t play enough catch.

But the boys tried other sports, too. Dylan played baseball, basketball, soccer, and football. He was in chess club, if that counts as “sport.” He learned how to swim, ice skate, roller skate and ski. He played ultimate frisbee for three seasons. One day he decided to run a mile, and he did – and later, he joined the 8th grade cross country team. The following year, he quit cross country and learned how to play tennis. He was going to play at school, but tennis team conflicts with the spring musical.

Dylan is quite good at sports, too. He has real natural ability, particularly in basketball and tennis. But he quit everything except ski club – which is now in danger of closing due to insufficient participation.

Shane was a bit less traditional. At age two, Shane asked to take dance class, and did. Then he played baseball, basketball and football. He loved football, but only played flag – no tackle. Like Dylan, Shane also learned to play chess, swim, ski and skate. (Shane was so good at roller skating that I once googled “roller derby for kids.”)

Shane played a lot of tennis, and he was good at it. But in spite of the cost of lessons at the fancy tennis club, Shane never played a single match. A year later, he fell in love with ping pong. His friends are on a swim team – but Shane declined to join, and took up rock climbing instead. Since he also runs like the wind, Shane is considering trying track. He just signed up for ping pong classes.

Both boys are athletic and talented. They could play any sport.

But on weeknights during baseball season, I sit in the bleachers outside at dusk, watching someone else’s kids play.

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