When it’s almost closing day of youth baseball season, I can’t help but remember how it felt at the beginning . . .
It’s the best day in the Palisades, I hear someone say. I don’t know that I agree, but I can at least see their point. It’s little league Opening Day. It’s pancake breakfast. It’s the most beautiful children on the planet in their perfect uniforms—belts and all, socks pulled up, shirts tucked in. They all look alike in their caps. Only the girls and the boys with long hair are identifiable. We squint at uniform numbers to know which is ours.
It’s primitive, but youth baseball brings out my shameful competitive streak (are you shocked?), which makes it all but impossible to stifle the words “DROP IT!” when someone on my kid’s team hits a pop fly. And my mean-streak, or maybe let’s call it my passion for justice, loooooves that they beat the kids today who beat them last time then taunted my kid on the schoolyard. Take that.
Oh, it’s a glorious day.
It’s Emmett, my pre-schooler, playing in the bushes by the baseball field with his best best best friend whose brother is also a baseball player, then asking me with hands clenched in supplication if they can PLEASE have a playdate at our house after the game. It’s their joy when I say yes. It’s adding another playmate on the way, a girl, and we are a tableau of PAINFULLY ADORABLE, crossing the street with four cupcake cute kids holding hands between adult bookends.
It’s the 3 pre-schoolers playing cheetah family in our backyard.
It’s Christopher making hamburgers, and Aaron eating guacamole, which counts as a vegetable, and me baking chocolate chip cookies and not burning them. And I used whole wheat flour. And I snuck in a couple scoops of flax seed.
The 4 year old girl asks me, do you have an iPod? I’m embarrassed to tell her I don’t. I skim past that, say instead, “Yes, we have music,” and move to my ancient (9 years old) CD player/stereo. I put in John Cougar Mellencamp, and Prince, and The Black Eyed Peas.
“I like the Black Eyed Peas,” she says. Then she starts singing, some words about 21 guns, and I ask her if that’s the Black Eyed Peas, and she says No, Green Day. She asks me to put the music on outside. That sounds like a great idea, I tell her, and maybe someday we’ll be able to do that here, but for now I can only move the speaker, attached by wire to its source, and point it outside. Louder, she says.
It’s Emmett explaining as he emerges from the bathroom half-naked, I took my shirt off because I want to feel the breeze.
He swings in the chair hammock. His friend hurls his tiny body at the oversized stuffed chairs we have set up outside. Christopher and Aaron race matchbox cars down a slide. I would die for you, I sing with Prince. I would die for a moment like this. And it’s mine. I win.