Give Them a Chance


I watched it all go down from the safety of inside the concession stand, working my volunteer hours for my kids’ teams.

The kid was out, but the Little League coach wasn’t hearing it. I don’t know exactly what was said as I filled cup after endless cup of slushies for children who seemingly have more money than I do, but I saw the umpire reach his boiling point. I saw his finger point to the sky. “You’re outta here!” I saw the two of them leave the field and “close talk,” but not in the way I close talk people when I’m really excited to be talking to them. No, these two weren’t excited to be talking to each other.

They were mad.

I chuckled a little bit as the scene from my favorite movie, A League of Their Own, popped into my head. From about 1:28 in this video clip on, well, that’s what went down on the Little League fields on evening this season.

Funny, right?

Except it’s not.

I looked back at the field as the kids stood there, uncomfortably. Some chuckling, because we all default to uncomfortable chuckling when a situation warrants it. Some stoic. Some confused. Some visibly annoyed with the interruption in play, because they weren’t here to watch their coach throw a hissy fit about a botched call. They were there to play baseball.


To. Play. Baseball.

Because they’re kids. This group of kids was, at the oldest, 12-years-old. They’ve started to learn for themselves that umpires are human beings, that bad calls are made, but that there’s always another inning to be played, another game to win or lose. They are right in the middle of making decisions whether or not they want to stick with the game, whether they’d rather spend the first month of their summer lounging pool side or dealing with coaches who yell and scream and act like toddlers. These are the days that matter when it comes to sticking with a sport. They’ve learned the fundamentals. They’ve learned the rules. They’ve already learned to love the game, but whether or not they stick with it is based on how they are treated by the adults around them, the ones that are supposed to support them, show them how to act when things don’t go the way you want them to go. If we want to make the argument that kids who are involved in sports make healthier choices, then we need to do better for our children on and off the field.

The whole ordeal took at least ten minutes to sort out while the umpire and coach kept arguing until one of the Little League Powers That Be could make it up to the field and sort out the mess. When all was said and done, the coach remained ejected.

This year, players, coaches, and even parents had to sign a code of conduct contract, stating that we would act with good sportsmanship. No taunting players. No yelling at coaches from the bleachers. No coaches yelling at umpires. No purposefully hurting other players. It was a problem last year, and the league is working to solve the problem. Except we have grown adults out on the field exemplifying everything we don’t want our children to be.

Good job.

I get it. Coaches are also human. They’re also volunteers. They also make mistakes. If this was an isolated occurrence, fine. But I see the same over-competitive streak in certain coaches at the t-ball level. When I watch a coach yell at a 5-year-old about anything, I get upset. Yes, they’re going to twirl and pick dandelions and stare at a cloud floating by—they’re five. years. old. Yes, it means that the inning takes eons, but it’s t-ball. It’s not the MLB. They’re there to have fun, learn a little bit about baseball, about being on a team, about respecting a coach who should also respect them, and to participate in something. They’re not there to win. Not yet. Give them a chance to learn to swing a bat, throw a ball, learn that you run to first base first, second base second, third base third, then run home. (Thanks, Froggy!) Give them a chance.


I am thankful that we have two coaches for t-ball and coach pitch again this year that focus on learning, on fundamentals, and on the fun of baseball. I’m watching my two little boys fall in love with the sport, and I can only hope that they continue to have amazing coaches. I know they’re getting support and love at home when we play in the yard. I can only hope that the kids who aren’t getting it on the field can find their support elsewhere.



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52 Weeks of Brotherhood: The One with Fun Day



The end of school is upon us. Next Wednesday marks the boys’ last day of this school year. We’re beyond ready for summer break, for time together, for travel, for sunshine, for bike rides, for swimming, for a break from school. I mean, school hasn’t really been school in weeks already, so you know.

Monday was “Fun Day” for the boys, meaning that they got to enjoy a whole day of fun: games, bounce houses, foods, and so on that don’t normally happen on a school day. The boys were stoked, especially since they got to wear hats and sunglasses to school. They chose their current Little League team hats. I found that to be especially cute.

As we waited for the bus, BigBrother told LittleBrother all the things he could expect. The Ice Cream Truck would be there. The bounce houses would be bouncy. He talked about the free books they would be able to pick from, old books the library was giving up, passing on. Then he dropped the bomb on his little brother.

“You have to stay with your class.”

It got quiet for a moment and a cloud passed over his little face.


“I wish I could hang out with you.”

“Yeah, that would be great.”

Someday they might not want to hang out with each other at school, so I found it especially important to record this moment. I still have hopes that they’ll be the best of friends, but man, high school is rough stuff.

Fun Day went splendidly for both, in case you were wondering. Though they both came home exhausted. One had baseball practice that evening. They crashed immediately at bedtime and even slept in the next morning. I’d thank the school for all of that, but the exhaustion came with some pretty spectacular whining and arguments.

Is school over yet? We’ve got our own Fun Days to have.


No Technology Weekdays: What’s Working for Us


Technology used to be a problem in our house. Screen time presented an on-going set of problems: negotiating problems, arguing between brothers problems, using technology as either a reward or a punishment problems, zombie-technologified children problems, parents who were over technology problems. Neither of us adults knew what to do about it. Then Casey shared what their family was doing to address the technology problem heard round the world.

No technology weekdays. Free-for-all weekends.

I thought about it for a few days, discussed it with my husband, and presented the idea to the boys. I presented the free-for-all weekends to the boys before explaining that meant that there would be no technology during the weekdays. BigBrother back-pedaled a little, but both boys agreed that it sounded like it might be a good deal.


This happened at the beginning of winter. You know, this winter. The one that didn’t end. The one that got so cold that even me, the one who never gets cold, didn’t even really want to spend more than five or so minutes outdoors. The one that refused to end. The one that is still giving us weird frosty overnights right now. The first winter in all of forever that I hated. Yeah. That one.

We survived.

The transition went “okay,” whatever that means. Early on, they tried to negotiate, which was one of my pet peeves about technology in general. Eventually they learned that No Technology Weekdays meant NO technology on weekdays. They began to look forward to Fridays after school (and, well, so did I; honesty helps us all, right?).


But the best part? They began playing with toys they had been ignoring for quite some time. They began writing books again. They began painting and drawing and coloring me pictures again. They began dressing up in costume all the time again. They began playing all of the board games again. On any remotely nice day, they went outside. Tonight, as soon as they finished dinner, they went outside without me saying to “go and play.” They just went. They’ve been into the sidewalk chalk, the bubbles, the kickballs and baseballs and footballs and frisbees. They’ve been busy with their Nerf swords and battle axes and so on. They’ve run laps around the house. They’ve practiced baseball together. They’ve played with their friends outside for hours. Sometimes they read outside now that they weather is nice.


It’s glorious.

Oh, hai, baseball

Because it’s also kind of tricky. “Free-for-all” weekends happens to be kind of a misnomer. Weekends right now involve at least two Little League Games (five hours), church (1.5 hours), meals (sometimes forever because LittleBrother still eats slow), and chores (they put their own laundry away, clean their rooms, their playroom). Add in that sometimes we do fun things (we’re going to Cedar Point this Saturday!), visit with family, go to the park, go on hikes, go for a run, do things as a family, go out to eat, just DO things on the weekend, and you begin to realize that their technology time is actually quite limited on the weekends too. They haven’t caught on to that part yet. Shh, don’t tell.

We’ve made some changes along the way to deal with some issues they’re facing in their own lives. BigBrother can lose technology time for talking in class. LittleBrother lost some time because he hit his brother in the privates. While we want for them to have their time on the weekends, we found that adding in the ability to remove time from them made them respect that time even more. It’s kind of cool.

Let's Create

With summer coming up, I am not dreading the No Technology Weekdays at all. We allowed for a little negotiation on the part of the boys and gave them Fridays as a part of their Free-for-All, after they finish breakfast and their personal stuff (making beds, brushing teeth, getting dressed). We’ll be working on their Summer Reading Program through school. Both boys have expressed an interest in working on some math skills this summer, so we’ll do that together. I have hopes that their neighborhood friends will provide some needed distraction and play time. And, of course, we’ll have all the travel as we do every summer.

So what will do we do about travel/vacations? We’ll treat them as we treated Snow Days. Vacation days allow for technology, like weekends. Why? Because when we’re on vacation, we’re busy. Minus the time between breakfast and going down to the beach in the morning. Or while the grown ups are making dinner in the evening. That’s about it. If there’s time on the 4th of July for them to use technology, so be it. If they want to play their DS games on the way to camp, they can go right ahead. They’ll be too busy playing and running and doing camp things for technology to even cross their mind once we’re there.

Right now, this is what works for us. It was scary to even consider, but now I can’t imagine doing it differently. I’m proud of the way the boys have begun playing again now that technology is mostly off the table. I’m also glad the negotiating and arguing about technology time has ended. I know this won’t always be what works for us. I know they’ll grow and change, and I can only hope that we’ll grow and change together.