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Parent Moments: Play Ball ... Please!

I was never a great ball player, but I loved the game ever since I was a little girl. The strategy, the statistics, the calls at home plate -- nothing excited me more.

I embraced the hobby fully, joining the softball team when I was in sixth grade and continuing up through high school. My first real job was as an umpire for the girls' league below mine. And if I wasn't on the field playing or umping, I was home watching the New York Mets on TV. In fact, during the spring and summer of 1986, I could frequently be found wearing a "rally cap," a Mets hat with the brim popped up, balancing a lucky baseball on top. Even now, each spring, as soon as I get my first sniff of freshly cut grass, I dig out my old John Fogerty CD and blast "Centerfield" on the stereo.

Naturally, when I became a mom and my daughter Sabrina was old enough to play, I signed her up for a girls' league and volunteered to be the assistant coach. We practiced with the team and at home, but it turned out that Sabrina liked singing the cheers better than playing. She was more interested in the drawings she could make along the baseline with her cleats than in her plays to second base. Sabrina played for two seasons, but then broke the news to me: "Mom, I just don't like softball." I was disappointed, but there was still another chance for me to enjoy the sport: through my youngest, Jake.

Jake played for four seasons. But in all that time, he never got into the strategy of the game the way I did when I was his age -- or the way the other boys on his teams did, either. He liked being on the field with other kids just fine, but when it came to the actual game of baseball, he could take it or leave it. Once last spring, Jake said, "I kind of wish I had signed up for spring soccer instead of baseball. I think I'm better with my feet than I am with my hands." And sure enough, as I played catch on the sidelines with one of the kids on the team while Jake chatted with a buddy, I realized that my heart was more in the game than his was.

I still don't really know why they didn't inherit my love for baseball, but I'm happy that Sabrina and Jake have plenty of other interests and keep plenty active enough to be healthy. I'm also glad to report that I'm learning to enjoy new things, too, including soccer (Jake), fine art (Sabrina), and jazz music (both). I've come to accept the fact that I don't get to invent my kids, but I do get to be there to watch them develop and grow, and it's a lot of fun -- even if that fun doesn't play out on a baseball diamond.

Still, I've felt a little down lately, knowing that this spring would be my first no-baseball spring in years, and the first no-baseball spring of many to come. A few times, I even stepped into the garage and slipped on my mitt for old times' sake.

But as luck would have it, just as I was lamenting the quiet months to come, a member of my church congregation stood up this weekend and announced that he was starting a co-ed recreational softball team. I may spend some time on the diamond this year yet!


Shannon Riggs is the author of the award-winning picture book "Not in Room 204" and is a columnist for the Dream Team newsletter for Disney Family.com.
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CeReality: 5 Families, 5 Stories, 1 Critical Meal

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