It’s no secret that Mike loves baseball. He’s a 162-game-per-year (plus post season) fan. And he didn’t waste any time indoctrinating Teddy on the wonder of the sport. He couldn’t take Teddy to his first game until the little guy was 7 months old, but from the time we brought our munchkin home, Mike’s go-to “lullaby” has been “Take me out to the ball game.” And the first time Teddy started singing along? I could hear Mike getting choked up from all the way out in the living room.
It was partly rote memorization, but Teddy does seem to be developing an affinity for the sport himself. He loves lounging on the couch with Mike on a Saturday afternoon, watching a game, and he can sit through—and appears mesmerized by—an entire game at the ball park. (A ball game is also a guaranteed tantrum-stopper: we turn on the TV to the MLB station, and no matter who’s playing—he’s not particular about his teams, yet—the waterworks and screaming cease within seconds.) He’s come to recognize many symbols that represent baseball: the jersey, the ball cap, his board book about the Nationals, the TV screen when baseball is on, the National’s curly W—he’ll point to any of these and say, “bay-ball?” and wait for confirmation, repeating himself if that validation doesn’t come quickly enough.
All of this makes Mike pleased as punch. A son who loves baseball? It’s a dream come true.
So after a play date at the park earlier this week, I was super excited for Mike to get home so I could share the latest development in Teddy’s baseball education. A 3-yr-old had brought his t-ball set and was graciously sharing it with Teddy. They took turns quite well (with their mothers’ incessant prompting, of course). I was skeptical of Teddy’s ability to even wield the fat plastic bat, let alone hit the ball. The bat after all was nearly as tall as he is. But he clumsily grasped it and, after I adjusted the position of his hands a bit and set him to the left of the tee, he swung—and made contact! Granted, the ball kind of loped off the tee, dropping just a few inches away. But people, he hit the ball! And he continued hitting it! And the ball soared farther each time! (When I did finally get to brag about our son’s obvious future in the majors, Mike was hoping he’d be able to tweet that the first time his 21-month-old prodigy cracked the ball, it sailed farther than the preschooler’s attempt; but alas, that was not the case. The older child easily got more distance. But, of course, he’d had more practice.)
As I watched Teddy gleefully take turn after turn, my excitement to tell Mike grew. But later that afternoon, while I was preparing dinner and before Mike had come home, Teddy provided me with even more to tell. Last week, on the Fourth, while we were hanging out at the pool on our roof, Teddy had taken an interest in a little July 4 helium balloon attached to a plastic stick. The owner had offered it to Teddy as he was leaving, and Teddy had been happily playing with it ever since. So this day, while I was chopping vegetables, I realized that Teddy had been occupied for nearly 20 minutes and had not sought my attention once. All I’d heard was what sounded like that plastic balloon being batted around. It’s pretty common for Teddy to entertain himself, but not usually for that long uninterrupted, and not without calling for my attention at some point to observe his play. So I walked to the living room to investigate, and found Teddy, holding the balloon by the stick with one hand, attempting to bat a ball out of his other hand.
Teddy has not shown similar interest in other sports. He rarely kicks his balls unless prompted (and only then because it’s his plastic ball and we forbid that one being tossed in the house—the kid has good aim), and he never tries to dunk a ball in a toy basket unless he’s been told to tidy up. And I’ve demonstrated that many times. But here he was, quite content for a good chunk of time to improvise his own batting practice.
He wasn’t that successful (it’s tough to be both pitcher and batter), so to improve his batting average, I held the ball for him. He was still hitting it out of my hand when Mike came home.
Needless to say, Mike insisted we buy a t-ball set immediately.