Last night, I was given the opportunity (I didn’t ‘have to’, it was something I ‘got to’ do) to help my son’s little league team during a game. Essentially, this is glorified tee ball where everyone hits and scores. Two moments in the game reminded me of things I tell my son and students all the time, but I need to remember as well.
Fill someone’s bucket. Early in the game, one of our players (let’s call him Owen) was on third base, the batter tapped the ball down the third baseline and I told him to go home. Of course, with the ball in the middle of his path, catastrophe was inevitable. Owen tried to spread his legs wide enough to run over the kneeling fielder, only to toppled him over. For the first time ever, I saw a player literally stand up with a face full of dirt. Both players were in tears, one from the face full of dirt, the other upset because he hurt someone.
The tears went on for a while, into the next half of the inning while we were fielding. When I made it over to Owen, he was still crying and looking at me with a very confused expression, because he didn’t know me at all. I asked if he was okay and he responded with a look of, “You can’t fix this.” When I asked if I could tell him a joke, an incredulous smile broke across his face. I had the perfect six-year old joke:
Ghosts don’t say who, ghosts say boo.
I think it goes without saying that he laughed hysterically and the tears ended there. He also made my night (until the next thing happened of course).
Don’t hang your head. Later in the game, my son seemingly forgot how to hit a baseball. After 8-10 swings, which looked fine, but couldn’t make contact with a single pitch, the coach told him his at bat was over and he walked off in tears. “I don’t know why I kept missing the ball,” he told me as I tried to cheer him up. “Neither do I, bud. But it probably won’t be the last time, so pick your head up and get ready to field.”
As luck would have it, two batters in a row hit the ball right to him. One he fielded off the ground and threw the kid out at first. I know that doesn’t seem like much, but it was actually the first time our team had accomplished this goal in four games. The next ball was popped up to him and he caught it just before it hit the ground, threw it to first, and recorded a double play – none of the kids actually knew that it was a double play, but they were pretty sure it was a good thing for our team.
As I sat in a job interview today, I reflected on these moments. I tried to make a few jokes to lighten the mood and know that, if it doesn’t work out, I’m not going to hang my head.