Kiddo#3’s baseball coach wants to kill him, and I’m not sure I should prevent it.
The team is an instructional league for kindergarten through second grade. It’s got very gentle rules, such as every child gets to bat every inning, they get an infinite number of strikes, and so on. They advance one base per hit, no stealing. The games last three innings (about one hour) and it’s always a tie. The last batter every inning hits a grand slam. The coach pitches to his own team.
We’ve seen the coach at church on Sunday. I imagine he’s a saintly man, patient and kind, tireless in his education of our youth. And yet Kiddo#3 may drive him to insanity.
Kiddo#3 has the effect on adults where they stand, baffled, watching as he whirls by like Hurricane Kiddo, drinking in the world and thirsty for more. Kinesthetically curious, he hurls his body into things, up things, through things, and around things.
His imagination follows not far behind. As I walked through the park one day between Kiddo#2’s game and Kiddo#4 in the playground with his father, I saw a mother standing, open-mouthed and aghast.
I thought, I know that baffled look! and scanned the area for Kiddo#3, who popped out from behind a tree. He and a few other boys had been playing “bird nest” with a number of the bread-loaf-sized rocks in the park. One of the stones had dropped and cracked open, splitting cleanly in half. Kiddo#3 had immediately grabbed both halves and exclaimed with joy to this stranger, “It hatched! It hatched!”
Kiddo#3 conforms the world to his games. The world wouldn’t dare do otherwise.
Back to his coach: at the last baseball game I attended, Kiddo#3 needed to be told not to leap off the dugout bench repeatedly. While on first, he engaged in a joyous visible-from-space dirt-kicking contest with the first baseman. He slid into every base, into the dugout, into his position as short stop. Charged the first hit of the inning when he was playing third base and the batter had hit the ball maybe four feet. Managed to get that ball and then pivoted and threw it, for reasons I will never fathom, to second base. And in the first inning, he caught his own hit.
Yes, I wrote that correctly. He got a nice hit down the first base line and ran for first. He got there mere feet behind the ball and for once over-ran first base in order to chase down his own hit, pick it up, and carry it back to the first baseman from the other team.
Then he needed to be reminded to stand on the bag.
That poor coach, dealing with Kiddo#3. I know that baffled look. I know it well.