“Mama, it’s time you learn how to bat!” my son declares as he sprints toward me, flushed with adrenaline. I wave to his weary baseball coach, who’s dragging himself to his car. I look at the muddy field, then at my leather shoes, which were anticipating strolling through shops in search of Grandma’s birthday gift, then into a movie theater for a laugh in the dark.
“But we have a date! Then Granma’s birthday dinner!” I remind him, ever so cheerfully.
“Pleeease! Just one lesson! It’s a life skill!”
Clever. If he could only teach me the life skill of “kid convincing”. Not a good time for conflict on this, our one-on-one day of fun. And what sweeter treat for a ten-year old boy than a chance to boss around his mother. So I bend, slowly, so as not to jostle my pinched nerve, and grab the bat.
“Pick it up and hold it over your right shoulder.“ Got it.
“Now spread your feet apart -about 12 inches- and bend your knees.
You need to keep your weight firmly on the ground.” Do I ever. I carry so much of my weight in my battered brain – like those lumpy paper-mache puppets from art class. So I plant my feet and bend my knees. The mud oozes around my comfort soles. I watch my instructor unfurl from his pitcher’s pod and whip it right at me. Panic fuels my swing and I miss. Horribly.
“Whoa, Zo, you’ve got a bionic arm!”
He brushes off the compliment as if came from just another cheering fan in the stands, and gets back to business. He pitches- I miss; he pitches-I miss; he pitches; I miss. I retrieve the balls, rubbing my throbbing back and checking my flashing iPHONE clock. I really should just discontinue this exercise right now, but the exertion is making me a bit lighter-headed…
“Mama, it’s all about timing and power. You need to watch the ball and time your swing. When the ball is right about here – he points emphatically – that’s when you lift and swing. After a few more tries (and a lot more mud on my shoes) I actually make contact with the ball. Barely.
“Good!” my personal trainer imitates the coach’s affirmative tone.
“You got the timing right. Now you have to add power. Hit it as hard as you can, or you’ll never get to first!”
Then it hit me. I have the power to say we’re leaving now. But if I strategize my timing, I might score a run with my son, so we can feel like we’re on the same team. (This coach could start a self-help franchise.)
It takes a while, but I finally hit that ball all the way across that field.
Once, twice, three times. And he chases after it. When I finally hear him panting, and see a bit of sweat on his brow I decide the timing is perfect for me to wield my power.
“Hey coach, how about we take a T.O. for a smoothie before we get our shopping done?”
“OK.” he says, heaving his baseball bag like a tough training pro.
“Good job Mama,” he pronounces, “ for your first lesson.”
Managing Editor Writing Mamas Chicago
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About Oryna Schiffman