Family Zone - It Just So Happens
by Cheryl Butler
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Parents as Fans--A Winning Combination!
© Cheryl L. Butler
As the mother of eight, five of them boys, I know I've only just begun doing my time as a loyal, supportive parent who gives so freely of one's self when it comes to sitting on the sidelines, or in the case of this brand new season of baseball, the bleachers, cheering on my children as they flub fly balls, miss grounders or strike out looking. It's just part of the territory.
I'm already well trained by my two oldest sons that I'm not to hoot and holler, no matter what the circumstance, until they've actually made a play or gotten a hit. If I should so much sneeze or breathe too loudly causing the hairs in my nostrils to move, I am to quickly leave the area and come back when I can behave. Got it boys!
Thank goodness for my younger boys, who also call me Mom, and love it when I clap and cheer even if they've just been taken out of the game so another kid on the team can play. I'm showing them my love and support-and boy are they proud!
Well, here we are just weeks after opening day, and between the school teams, Little League and Babe Ruth, the only socializing I will be doing in the near future is with the clerks in the local Dollar Sore where I stock up on fan essentials like Swedish Fish and large salty bags of imitation buttered popcorn. Baseball season is indeed my busiest time of year, but don't get me wrong, despite my desperate pleas about how it rules my entire life for nearly four very long months, I'm still the biggest fan my kids will ever know!
I can't help myself, though, for being transported back to the jarring end of last year's fall ball season, where I learned a very important lesson about being a P.A.F. (Parent as Fans).
It was a balmy late October day that I endured that six-hour torture session, I mean Babe Ruth game. Did I mention it was a Sunday afternoon--the day of rest that the Lord intended all of us to take each week? I don't think the individual who scheduled this game got that memo, but no problem, I'm a loyal, supportive mother who will be there for those very long and poorly scheduled games no matter what day of the week they are held.
Now please keep in mind that we are playing on our home field and are short one player for this afternoon delight called a "Double Header." Not only do we now have to forfeit the game and borrow a player from the other team, the manager on the other team can't see any harm in playing two games rather than one long one-after all-that means they technically win both games, am I right?
Also, we'd hate to disappoint the visiting P.A.Fs that have arrived all the way from the city (in droves I might add) to cheer on their undefeated team! Did I mention yet that our team Tase Right (something to do with meatballs) hasn't won a single game? I think it's us, quite frankly-the Butlers have yet to be on a winning team unless selling the most magazines in the local fundraiser counts as a win. Otherwise, when cleats, clubs or bats are involved, we haven't felt the thrill of victory too often.
Now back to those P.A.F's. Here's where I struggle with my good Catholic upbringing-when you are the parent of the losing team (and I do have a lot of experience with this) it is very difficult to digest all the rambunctious ranting and raving going on one bleacher over-particularly when they feel it necessary to do the wave every time one of our kids strikes out or drops a ball! Not fair I tell ya! Still, I always remember that motto, "Turn the Other Cheek" and try to behave like the 40-something woman of finesse that I am rather than sticking my fingers in the corners of my mouth and whistling like I'm calling in the dog every time the other team makes a mistake. So tacky!
P.A.Fs need to come to an understanding that cheering and being enthusiastic when your own team is doing well is completely understandable and most of us applaud you for it.
However, when the winning team is up 30 to 1 and it's quite obvious well into the 6th inning that there's a better chance of finding Brad Pitt working the concession stand than the losing team making a comeback, layoff the nasty remarks to the boys that are not doing so well. Yes, they do have feelings believe it or not and listening to 25 grown men and women screeching "C'mon Bucko, show him who's boss" at the very last out of the 6 hour game when they already feel defeated, tired and cranky is really not necessary, is it?
So yes, I heartily embrace this new ball season and intend to follow all the rules at each and every game. I will abide by my older son's request to lay low no matter how much I want to let the town know my boy throws the fastest curve ball. I will rejoice as loud as I can when my younger guys make a good cut even though they strike out, but most importantly I will try to be the best darn P.A.F. I can be, because good sportsmanship starts at home and if my children learn this early on, then "Parents as Fans" can truly be a winning combination.
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