Take Mom Out to the Ballgame
We're playing baseball this summer and so far it's a blast.
I knew this day was coming nine years ago when we lived on the North Side of Chicago three blocks from the storied Wrigley Field. Ian could barely hold up his little head but had a prime seat in the Friendly Confines with us as we watched the Cubs play.
As soon as he was old enough, we signed him up to play.
First there was T-ball, where the players hit the ball off the tee - or keep swinging at it until they do.
Next Ian played coach-pitch baseball. As the name implies, the coach would pitch to players and again, and parents would watch and wait for the players to make contact with that one pitch to get a hit - or to strike out.
Now we're playing what's called kid-pitch baseball, and in my mind this is true Little League baseball.
Something happens to me when the kids take the field. Yes, I join the other moms and dads in encouraging and rallying the boys through each inning. Our boys play for the Cleveland Indians (as a native of Cincinnati and a Reds fan, this is probably the only time I'm cheering for the Indians).
There seems to be an instant camaraderie in our folding-chair ranks, as we sit watching the game in the elements. So far, we've watched in the rain and during a blistering 90-degree scorcher of a day. Of course we all hope the kids will pull out a victory - and that has happened at least once - but it is clear there are many good lessons to learn from losing.
These lessons include congratulating the other team, and not criticizing teammates for mistakes but instead encouraging them to persist.
There is also something to be said for the experience of self improvement and for learning how to accept instruction and constructive criticism.
You can see them trying to absorb all of it as they play. The boys are listening to the coaches - and to their parents "coaching" from the side. With kids ages 9 and 10, the "parent coaches" on the sidelines can have the biggest impact on whether a child will enjoy the experience.
But as parents we all have to remind ourselves to first and foremost "coach" our kids to be good sports. You know the old saying, "It's not whether you win or lose, but how you play the game."
I am not holding onto big-league baseball dreams for Ian. I just want him to have fun, be physically active and learn the game. And certainly he'll learn those other lessons along the way that will help him become the superstar in life that "Coach Mom" wants him to be.
Tracy Townsend is a news reporter and anchor with 10TV News HD.