Over the previous several weeks, I’ve covered a range of emotions, most of them strolling down the less-than-sunny side of the street. Today however, I woke with a renewed enthusiasm and more optimistic view of the world.
hahahahahahahahahahahahahaha *insert cry-laughing emoji*
OK, well it’s actually partially true.
Several weeks ago, our school board voted to return to in-person teaching and learning for the first time since COVID-19 took over our world. For reasons I’ll never understand, the Board dropped an eleventh hour bomb, adding an amendment minutes before the opening gavel for the meeting. They proposed and passed the amendment to exclude students in 9-11 grade from returning, requiring instead that they continue to stay home, accessing classes via their Chromebooks. So my children, a freshman and a junior, weren’t even afforded the option to return.
The Board’s decision to exclude 9-11 graders included a caveat: Students would be allowed to return IF they were in danger of failing.
My first reaction to that news item was, oh yeah, super, let’s make kids who are failing feel even worse, let’s single them out and “let them” go back. Two things: One, super discriminatory, no matter how you slice and dice it. It was much later that I arrived at thing two, turning thing one on its ear–let’s punish the kids who aren’t failing by keeping them isolated. Point two didn’t truly hit me until I received a text from one of my kids’ friends’ parents, asking if their child could hitch a ride home from school with mine. I launched into a rather unattractive rant (not to this parent via text obviously, just to myself) about my children working their asses off, excelling academically though virtual, and being denied the opportunity to be with classmates. Socially distanced. Masked. But still, WITH PEOPLE. Ugh.
I drafted a rant-y blog post, and subsequently pulled it back. I don’t need to put my ugly out there. I reframed. My kids are lucky enough to have excelled academically. It should be enough. (It’s not enough, but I’m trying to make myself believe it’s enough.) I’m focusing on the one school-related activity one of my sons can do: baseball.
Locked out of in-person instruction, at least the district opened up spring sports. Though sports are limited in scope, my baby gets at least to be part of a team this spring. He’s been able to pitch, hit, and run, and if he’s not better for it, I know that I am. I know that he is too, actually, and he’s actually not pitching, but he IS going to don the RRHS blue and grey. Go, Huskies!
They were set to scrimmage their cross-town rivals this afternoon, his first crack of the bat at the high school level. Naturally, and in keeping with his long history of picture-perfect weather on every day except game day, there’s a near certainty of thunderstorms at game time. Come on Mother Nature, can ya give these kids something???
It hits me that it’s possible that I need him to play baseball more than he needs it. I was so looking forward to seeing a game, doing what I’ve done and loved doing since he was six years old. Baseball has been an evolution for him. He was an exceptional tiny guy ball player, because even when he was a tiny guy, he wasn’t physically tiny. He towered above other kids his age, and had good ball sense. He was strong and fast, and hit legit over-the-fence homers when he was ten. He suffered a growth plate separation at age eleven, which effectively removed him from pitching or even throwing that season; it affected him physically as well as accuracy- and confidence-wise.
His dad was run over by a truck at age thirteen, and in my son’s own words, “I just wasn’t able to keep my head in the game” that season. I remember thinking then, almost exactly two years ago now, that getting him to baseball practice and getting him to his games would retain some semblance of “normal” or “routine” while his dad lay hospitalized, nearly dead. I also remember thinking then that I was messing him up bad, playing the “let’s keep your routine” charade. I was, and this is a generous assessment of my mental and emotional health in the accident’s aftermath, a goddamn mess. There was no way to win. The coaches cut him at the end of his dreadful season, which hurt his heart and broke mine. He’s not the aggressor he once was, and I don’t know that he’ll ever recapture that, but beast mode is not exactly his nature.
My kid shows up, he works hard, and is as loyal as the day is long. My quiet, wouldn’t-say-shit-if-he-had-a-mouthful son, the kindest, sweetest, gentlest of giants still gets to be part of a game he loves, and I am 100% happy about that. I can’t wait to see him play this season! Be it a little or a lot, it just probably won’t begin tonight if Mother Nature has her way.