Baseball season is in full swing -- pun intended -- and my son has worked his way up to kid-pitch. I must say I've learned a lot about sports while raising my first boy, and I don't mean just the catcher inference rule. I mean the crazy things that happen on the sidelines.
For one, I found myself standing up and cheering when my son got hit in the leg by a pitch.
"He got on base!" I yelled to another mother next to me, who was equally as excited, before it dawned on me to wonder if that might have hurt.
I used to think sports was a male-bonding thing, until my baby started playing. It was then that I realized the intense level of female camaraderie that happens while sitting on the bleachers.
First of all, we may not know the rules of the National League versus the American League, but you can bet by the second game, we'll know the names and jersey numbers of every kid on the team and about half of the kids on our opponent's. Mothers talk, which means we know which kid has been sick, which could use an extra loud cheer, and which one could probably use a spanking if that weren't so passé these days.
But the main -- albeit unspoken -- reason for learning who the players are so quickly is so we can alert each other when our kid does something great. And, he will, the minute you turn your head or try to go to the restroom.
Recently, for example, one of the boys scored a run. Sure enough, we looked around, and his mother was coming back from the concession stand, Gatorade in one hand for her slugger, and nachos and pickles to pacify her younger daughter in the other.
"You saw his run, right, Mom? He just scored. You saw it, right?" we asked her.
And she responded just like she will when her son asks her after the game, "Oh, yes! It was great!" With a little wink, slight smile and a nod our way.
Unbeknownst to the men, we moms also keep rowdy fans in check. Yes, they have rowdy fans at the 10-and-under games. At a recent one, a man who didn't seem to be related to anyone on the team started shouting at the boys -- not encouraging words, but barking orders at them. Suddenly, he was yelling at the slowest boy on the team to steal home, fussing at a boy who's never pitched before for walking players, and, worst of all, critiquing the coaches, who happened to be our husbands.
The man was making me so nervous that I got up and walked around some, but not my mom friend. A veteran to Little League games, she stayed firmly on the bleachers, looked the man in the eye, smiled sweetly, and said, "You need you a coach's shirt on!"
Not taking the hint, he laughed and continued hollering.
Undaunted, she said in an even sweeter voice, "You keep yelling like that, and we are going to give you a job."
We mothers nodded in agreement. We knew this play. It takes skill and finesse to execute, but my mom friend was at the top of her game.
He chuckled and walked away for a few minutes, but soon began hollering yet again.
Then my friend smiled and threw him the toss up, "Why didn't you coach?"
He mumbled something about his work schedule and walked away -- defeated.
She had killed him with kindness.
About that time, another mom yelled, "Oh, look, your son's up to bat!"
She turned in time to see him lay down his bat and take his walk to first but not before glancing at the bleachers to make sure his mom was watching.
"Good job, son! Good job!" as she turned to give us a little wink.