When It Ain’t At All About the Ball (#290)

Baby D walked when he was 10 months old—for 3 steps. Then he ran everywhere.

“Soccer,” I yelled to Andy as I chased Baby D around the yard with a cheese stick. “As soon as he’s old enough, he’s playing soccer. Maybe that will wear him out.”

Andy yelled back, “But, honey, he doesn’t care about balls.”

This was true. Baby D did not care about sports.

Baby D only liked imaginary games.

Baby D and his stuffed animal army.

He wanted to pit his army of stuffed cats against my army of bears and of course his cats always had to win. (I considered it a win if I could nap while the cat army built tunnels on the bed). He built forts and ships for adventures. I arranged as many playdates as possible so other kids could enjoy these adventures while I spoke to other adults.

Invariably, a kid at the playdate would wander into the living room and ask something like, “What’s antivenin? Baby D says we need some!”

I gave D a shiny neon soccer ball. Instead of dribbling it, Baby D declared the ball a “jewel” and put his cat army to work guarding it, day and night.

Andy tried to teach Baby D to play catch. Baby D dubbed the baseball “a bomb” and blew up my bear army.

A houseguest brought Baby D a little Nerf basketball and a small basketball hoop with suction cups from Georgetown University. Baby D turned the Hoyas basket into a jail for his ursine prisoners of war.

Of course our contrary child had no interest  in sports. We lived next to a school with soccer fields, a baseball backstop, and tons of basketball courts. I spent years watching other children attend practices and games. I also spent years muttering about their inconsiderate parents blocking our driveway.

When Baby D was four, we came home one night to discover our driveway again blocked by a pickup truck. As I was taking down the license plate number and dialing parking enforcement, a mom from D’s preschool hailed me.

“Autumn! Is Baby D going to do T-ball, too?” she gushed. “That would be great, Jason would be so happy to have another kid he knows on the team!”

“No, I’m just trying to get into my garage! Is that what’s going on at the school tonight? T-ball?”

“Yes, it’s the parent meeting for the Pony League, where you meet the coach and get assigned volunteer jobs. Baby D isn’t going to play? You sure? Alex’s dad from preschool is coaching and Jared’s dad is the assistant coach.”

“Not a chance,” I scoffed. “The kid doesn’t care about baseball, or any kind of ball—”

Baby D yelled out the car window, “MOMMY! I WANT TO DO IT!”

“What? You don’t even know what a baseball is. You think it’s a bomb.”

“I want to be on the team! With Alex and Jared and Jason!”

I was an idiot. I should have been talking up “playing with friends” to my super-social child instead of “playing with balls.” And now that he actually wanted to be on a team, it was too late. “Sweetie, we didn’t sign up or do tryouts. I don’ think we can be on a team.”

Jason’s Mom said, “Maybe Alex’s dad needs some more kids on his team. Want me to check?”

“Sure,” I told her, but without any real hope. Which I told myself was for the best.  The Pony League was filled with single-minded sports dads who’d been playing catch with their future superstars for years already. Competition to get a foot in the door, even for T-ball, was fierce. I wasn’t sure Baby D could throw a ball.

But just in case, I parked down the block and did not report the illegally parked truck.

Within two hours, Alex’s dad had emailed an invitation for Baby D to play on the Seattle Mariners T-ball team. (Mom Network and poorly placed driveway for the win!)

Baby D was thrilled. Even though he began as the worst player on the team, he loved practicing with friends. He loved game day—with friends. And he especially loved snacks—with friends.

Baby D on the field.

I did not love baseball. Our team was okay, but other parents? The ones screaming at five-year-olds? Insane. Although their antics at least livened up the most boring sport in the world. Andy and I did a lot of yawning. Baby D and the other kids did a lot of standing. He hardly got any exercise.

When the season ended in June, I asked, “Hey, do you want to be on a soccer team this fall? Alex’s mom said she was signing him up for AYSO–”

“YES! And Nate says he wants me on his basketball team this summer and the kids on the block are making a kendama team so I want to do that, too!”

Turns out T-ball is a gateway drug to all the sports balls.

But what the hell is a kendama?

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

22 thoughts on “When It Ain’t At All About the Ball (#290)”

  1. “You think it’s a bomb.” HA!

    My kids weren’t into sports, either. When my son finally decided to give baseball a try, he was the worst player on the worst team in the league. They didn’t win a single game. I felt bad for encouraging him…but at least he got a LITTLE bit of exercise. Meanwhile, this was spring in the PNW, so all we got was wet.

    1. I think my husband and I are trying hard to make up for our parents, who never wanted us to do ANY inconvenient activities (which are all activities). Baby D has always loved swimming, but baby and toddler classes are a lot more involved (the joys of showers with babies and toddlers!) than just running over to a nearby field.

  2. Wow, I’d also never heard of kendama. And as someone who played softball competetively until age 30, I agree it’s the worst exercise of any sport!

  3. Wanting to be with friends always made me do things I wouldn’t normally do. I’m not a sports person and I have no natural ability yet my friends got me on the softball and basketball team. Argh! I did swim club without really knowing how to swim but I sure could cook the hot dogs on the grill afterward!

      1. I had a friend who “made me” go to Brazil. It was a cheap deal with only 2 weeks notice. Brazil had never been high on my list of places to go and it turned out to be one of my favorite destinations. Everyone needs a friend like that.

  4. Haha omg there is a kendama league? Now I know you’re in the Japan land of SoCal. Did he ever get good at it? Kendama is so hard!

    Sounds like D had a fantastic sense of imagination with prisoners of wars and forts and the re-imaging of baseballs turning into bombs! I hope all those balls didn’t squash his vibrant imagination!

    Did he end up really falling for one sport in the end?

    1. I don’t know if there is an actual league, but the kids on the block had a team. They got customized kendamas with the team name, even, and D wound up with a whole collection of different kendamas.

  5. It sounds that Baby A. is similar to Baby D., he also has an army of stuffed animals and doesn’t care much about balls, unless they have a hole, can be filled with water and then act as a water gun. Also, he mainly just cooks for his stuffed animals, no wars yet xD

    By the sounds of it, looks like Baby D. would be a great game master for D&D or similar games.

    1. Cooking for the animals is pretty cool. Baby D has no interest in cooking. Well, not yet. But we’re insisting that he do more prep work in the kitchen these days, since he has so much free time. Also more dishes.

      1. My son is obssesed with cooking and cleaning. Do you think he’ll still be when he’s older? I don’t have a lot of hope hahaha, but it would be so cool if he did the housework.

        1. Baby D once told me he wanted to be a stay-at-home dad when he grew up. And I said, “Well, if you can cook like Daddy and clean like Mommy, you’ll be perfect!”

          But now he wants to be a tiger wrangler.

          If Baby A wants to cook and clean, don’t discourage him! That is awesome.

  6. I like the Kodiak. It may not be a showy as the McKinley, but there’s a finesse to it. As for T-Ball, I imagine that is all well and good but kendama looks like where it’s at to me. A known klutz who never enjoyed team sports.

  7. You mentioned in an earlier comment that your son lucked out on good looks. OMG, he sure did! Aren’t people pressuring you to have him audition for commercials or movies? With such a rich imagination, it reminds me of how Jennifer Lawrence described her childhood in an interview. It will be interesting to see if he also inherited an analytical mind from Andy. Maybe he’ll be a cool scientist and write fantasy stories on the side.
    Not many stories about Andy’s parents lately. Did they find out about the blog and … you know… asked to be left out?

    1. Oh, I have in-law stories. None as good as nearly burning down the house, though. 🙂

      I let Baby D’s photo be used to exactly for one newspaper ad and then I retired him from show biz. I have seen what happens when directors promise strong willed kids literally ANYTHING to get the shot. My kid is already a born tyrant, he needs no help there. If he decides to make his fortune donating sperm or modeling later, so be it.

      Also, very hard to get him to hold still and he’s easily bored.

      But thank for the compliment. He is darn cute, even though he keeps trying to scar up his gorgeous face.

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