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Thursday, October 3, 2013

LET'S PLAY BALL!!!




It is amazing how much you can learn from the simple things in life. Sometimes I feel like God has to hit me over the head over and over again before I finally say, "I GET IT!" Last night was one of those moments.

My youngest son Grant (8 year-old, non-Aspie) had a baseball game. We were running very late because my oldest son Hunter (12 year-old, Aspie) was denying that he had any homework (even though I had emails from the teachers), arguing about doing it, and basically making 30 minutes of homework turn into almost 2 hours of hell.

We showed up at the ball fields and literally ran to the field where Grant's team was playing their game. He made it in time to grab his mitt and run onto the field, as the rest of his teammates took their positions.

I took a deep breath as I sat on the bleachers. Another frustrating night. Another evening of wondering what I could do to make him understand that homework was more important than Minecraft or Yu-gi-oh. Another time that Grant was late to an event because of his brothers inability to work with the family. Another night...

As the game began, my heart was still racing from the stress of the earlier events. The game began as any other. The other team was hitting the ball well and our boys were doing their best to field the hits. It didn't take long before the other team was winning 5-0. The bases were loaded and their next batter stepped up to the plate. He hit the ball with a WHACK. It was that sound that always means trouble for the opposing team. The ball headed straight for Grant's position at third base. He raised his hand and SMACK the ball landed in his mitt!! The look on his face was priceless!  He screamed, "Yes!!" and had the greatest looks of pride and excitement, and "Did I do that?" on his face. I jumped up and down like I had won the lottery, because that was exactly what it felt like.

His catch was the third out, so his team was up to bat. It was amazing how the energy shifted. One by one, the kids stepped up to the plate. One by one, kids that had not been hitting the ball at all, were getting singles and doubles. One by one, the parents high-fived, and jumped up and down, and smiled and laughed and cheered. The kids were cheering for each other and hugging and yelling encouraging words from the dugout. By the end of the game, his team won by 1 point. The kiddos were ecstatic. The parents were elated. The win was amazing, but the lesson learned was inspiring to everyone.

I learned a real lesson from those 8 year-olds on the field. We all have those days, those weeks, those months, and those years that wear us down. Sometimes it feels like defeat is our only option. As a parent of a kid with autism, the days, week, and months seem insurmountable sometimes, but then something happens...It can be something that seems small to everyone around you, but to you it is that WHACK in the mitt! Your son makes a new friend or shows compassion to you when he sees you hurting. It can be a good grade on a test or a thoughtful gesture. It can be so many things that make you realize that what you are doing means something!!

Yes, those days of defeat will come again and again. Unfortunately, that's all part of this game of parenting. Happily, those days of playing pitch and catch end up with the ball in their mitt. Those days of explaining over and over that we must show compassion for one another, ends up with a hug at the most unexpected time. For parents, it's those moments, that are our home runs. It is those moments where our pride shows through. It is those moments that make us wake up every morning and start all over again.

Yes, life sometimes has to hit you over the head to teach you a lesson. My lesson at the ball field was "LET"S PLAY BALL!!!" today and tomorrow and the day after that because we have to, because it matters, because we make a difference in our children's lives. We also have to be teammates to those around us because on those days of defeat, everyone needs a cheer from the dugout.