Monday, November 17, 2014
I tended to gravitate towards the strawberry soda. Everyone else stuck to the usual Coke or Pepsi, but me? I was going to take full advantage of this opportunity and pick whatever I wanted-for soda was a rare treat-but this post-game tradition was deserved and as the coolers were flipped open and met with enthusiastic cheers from my teammates, I knew my unconventional choice was a winner. Slurping the sweet treat, I would goof around with the team, both winner and loser, before shuffling back to the car, the victory or defeat of the game already slipping from my memory. Oh Treasured Childhood. Come and gone before you even have a chance to realize how good it is.
And can you believe my mother remembered it was our week to bring soda with NO Sign Up Genius to remind her? Or that everybody on the team showed up and nobody played for their club team instead or left early for another game or missed the game entirely because they were being dragged to their sister’s gymnastics tournament two hours away? And we were all the same age; not one or two kids larger in size and years because they were “held back” by over-zealous parents who wanted their kid to dominate. There was no team mom; we didn’t need a banner to remember what our name was, and there were certainly no organic-gluten-peanut-GMO-free snacks being passed out in cute little favor bags. We played for fun. We played because our friends played. We played to get dirty and sweaty. We played to enhance our lives, not consume them. We played for ourselves, not for our parents. We wanted to win, of course, but so many years later, I don’t remember winning or losing; I simply remember...playing.
Watching Son’s baseball team lose yet again, I reminded myself that this was just one game. That he would lose bigger and win bigger. That one game, even one season, does not determine his strengths or weaknesses. And as we shuffled back to the car, the defeat of the game slipping from our memories, I focused on his dirt-smudged face, his sweaty strands of hair, and the way he limped just a bit from the heaviness of his bag. I smiled in spite of myself. Oh...Treasured Childhood. It’s come...but it’s not gone. Not yet. Play on.