This summer is going to be HUUUUUGE. First, our eldest son, my firstborn, graduated from high school. In August, he’ll be leaving the shoe and moving about three hours away, where he’ll be learning the fine art of working without a net. I have complete confidence in him, not that it will be a perfect transition with no missteps, but that he’ll recover nicely after each “splat” and learn as he goes. So that’s the first big thing happening this summer.
The other big thing is actually the absence of something: softball. Read my lips: No. Travel. Ball. No schlepping ice chests, chairs, food, layers of clothing, sports equipment, magazines, laptops (for working weekends) up and down Northern California, and beyond. No 10-hour days, with 5 a.m. wake-up calls; no arguments when socks, or ballparks can’t be found; no 104-degree days where securing a patch of shade requires Hunger Games-like survival skills as dozens of other parents try to do the same thing.
There will be no snack bars, and no “Sophie’s Choice” when I finally get to the front of the line: lukewarm shiny nacho sauce or grey, tubular mystery meat? No hoarding toilet paper in my bra after my first morning visit to the restroom in preparation for the last visit of the afternoon when the dispensers will be empty. No wondering whether my shorts are so soaked with sweat that it’s going to look like had an accident when I get up and walk to the snackbar at 3 p.m., just to be disappointed when I discover that they still don’t have a Margarita machine.
Our girls do love their softball, and I love that they love something so much they’re willing to spend all summer getting up early, working hard all day in the hot sun, and then doing it again the next day, and the next weekend, week after week. I love that they love it. I love what it teaches them, yada, yada, yada. I love the time they get with their Dad, who is also their coach. But that’s where my love ends. I love not doing all of that stuff in the summer, too. I do, however, love softball in the spring, for 90 minutes two or three times a week, when temperatures are mild, bleachers are plentiful, and my only job is to let everyone else do their job and clap when appropriate.
Which leads me to another reason I don’t miss summer softball: it’s hard. In fact, it should be called hardball, but that name is already taken. Sometimes, the game is hard to understand and follow, if you’re me, that is.
First, the game is split up into innings, and each inning is split up into a “top” and “bottom” half. Which comes first, the top or the bottom half? Why does it feel like the answer is never the same twice? Next, the innings are given a number, as opposed to say, a theme, or identifiable structure. I mean, I might be able to keep track of which inning we’re in if they were called things like “Introduction,” “Exposition,” “Rising Conflict,” “Falling Action,” and “Denoument” (a fancy French word for “Finally, it’s over.”) Instead, the innings have numbers assigned to them, and not only that, they go in order, which means, there is a right or wrong answer when the person next to me says, “Is it the bottom of the fourth?” And there’s all these other little oddities, like “home” and “visitors,” which often lead to conversations like this one with my husband, on the run, as I beat back encroaching parent-competitors for shade:
Me: What side are we on?
Husband: We’re home team.
Me: I didn’t ask that. Which SIDE are we on?
Husband: We’re home honey, so third base side.
Me (mumbling): Sorry, forgot to bring my Dummies for Softball book.
Then, there’s the score to keep track of. I live in fear at all times of someone asking me the score. Am I a bad mom because most of the time I have no idea what the score is, or whether we’re even winning? When someone asks me the score, it’s a scramble to get someone else to answer for me:
Parent #1: What’s the score?
Me: Well, I think it’s…(voice trails off as I furrow my brow, start moving my finger around in the air like I’m mentally picturing and accounting for every runner and who has scored).
Parent #2: I think it’s 3-2.
Me: That sounds right.
Parent #1: Are we ahead?
Me: (Stalling by faking a yawn)
Parent #2: Yes.
Me: Yes (vigorously nodding head in agreement as my fake yawn ends, to mask the fact that this is news to me).
See ya next spring, softball!