The Obtuse Magic of the Right Fielder

Okay. We have all been there. Our six and seven year olds are  either good athletes or they are more like blind botanists pulling weeds from the grass than they are a ballplayer. A child who would gladly volunteer his “cup” to provide water to the flowers he is collecting rather than whatever that uncomfortable thing it is doing anyway. Every team has one . And I can’t speak to to the collective history of the right fielder, whether they start loving sports and move to the infield, go up in the batting order, or in our case, just became more proficient at picking flowers, bugs, dirt, anything that wasn’t a baseball.

What to do? For a while they made him goalie on the soccer team, not because of skill, but because he didn’t like to run.

Those games were PAINFUL to watch. Not because we were embarassed (or not only because we were embarrassed) but because he looked so unhappy.

Most of my best mothering is reactive, I mean in hindsight. This son didn’t have the words to give me a two hour discourse on why he prefer being on a stage. I don’t think he could have articulated what would have made him happy because he hadn’t experienced it yet.

So I had a problem. I had two younger kids who loved sports and one child who mildly acquiesced to them but showed to real interest.

What’s a mother to do? It wasn’t a skill problem. My son didn’t care about getting better and beside, how good do you have to be at six? But it was effecting him adversely, no one wanted to pick him for teams, it was torture to see his little face so unhappy on a beautiful day beneath baby blue skies.

And that’s when I turned into Detective Perot. I started watching him, not merely making sure he brushed his teeth, got dressed, changed underwear but really started noticing what made him smile.

The answer arrived in Kindergarten. With outfits more elaborate than some seen on Broadway, our kindergarten curriculum put on a lot of shows. He wasn’t subtle. He was the kid standing a foot closer to the audience even thought they were supposed to be in straight lines. He was the kid who knew all the words to the song as well as the hand movements, and probably the composer too. And you could hear his voice soaring over 29 other kids because he had been told that singing loudly was synonymous with singing well.

I sat back in absolute wonder. He was an artist. A performer. He wasn’t not interested in sports, he was extremely interested in the arts.

From that point on life got better. Not just for him, although he bloomed a little bit bigger with every program we found, but for us. To have this child be driven by something foreign to his parents turned into one of family’s best blessings.

Because of him, we have been to Broadway, because of him, his middle brother who hurt his back is in school plays, because of him we have the most eclectic, wonderful musical library the world could imagine. And as he got confident in these little ways, he became more confident in big ways. Acting is communication and it is hardly any surprise now that he is a gifted writer. And that confidence of knowing who you are and becoming better and better at it is a gift he gives himself and us everyday.

So be careful if you have a Right Fielder, he might be the next great thing!


6 thoughts on “The Obtuse Magic of the Right Fielder

  1. I Love this Ellen! So poignant and beautiful! Kudos to you for sitting back to watch what made your son light up. As a former bench-sitter in days gone by, I understand how hard it is to watch your child be a right fielder (unless that makes them happy). What a gift to watch them come into their own and realize their talents…we all benefit.

  2. Awesome tribute to Ryan and to his parents. You gave him the water and nourishment to grow not only as an artist, but as a fine young man. Kudo’s. I am so happy for all of you.

  3. This one brings back so many good memories. I remember the costumes of kindergarten. Ellen, you are a wonderful writer and an even better mother. The boys are so lucky to have you!

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