I know that baffled look!

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.


  1. Gary Corby

    What I find amusing about this is that my Miss 8 has begun playing T-ball. The girls in the team have no idea at all what the rules are. They just want to hit the ball and run around, which is fine. At the end they have no idea who won or lost, and that’s fine too.

    Some of the parents, on the other hand, go through emotional trauma watching the Keystone Cops play softball.

    1. philangelus

      Kiddo3 would have made a GREAT Keystone Cop! Too bad he wasn’t born a hundred years ago.

      See, low-pressure sports like that are a lot of fun. The kids can approximate playing baseball/softball and they love doing it. At that age, they don’t need the pressure or the competition, so why keep score? Hit the ball and run around. Get exercise. Have good emotional associations with team sports.

      But Kiddo#3 is a bit too free-form even for this. :-/

  2. Jim Kane

    Wait till Little League!

    1. philangelus

      I’ve already dealt with the local Little League with my oldest son:

      Last year they tried to force him up into a higher division than he should have been, too, and I’m afraid I scared my son by standing up to the guy who was trying to singlehandedly ruin baseball for my kid forever just so he could have another live body in the other division.

      Kiddo#2 is also doing softball and it’s just as crazy, but the girls are having a terrific time.

  3. Fred Stemp

    I have coached softball for 12 years now. All ages from t-bal to Junior Olympis and I still get that look with some of my 16 yoa ladies. You’d after all these years of playing experience I’d never have cause to have that look. But alas it happens at least once a tournament. lol Great story!

  4. cricketB

    My daughter’s in soccer. Great fun watching the parents of 4-year-olds as they struggle with the way the kids play. Most kids get the “no hands” rule, but goals and lines on the grass are there for decoration only. Eventually the parents learn to go with the flow (and kick the ball back onto the field).

    Last year her team realized that, to win, they should pass to the better players, and she began feeling left out. The split between Recreational to Competitive isn’t for a few years yet. Fingers crossed that the new “foundation” league is for our situation, rather than another night for kids who already play every night.