Pride in the uniform
By Saelen Ghose
In first grade I knew I was going to be a baseball player. I knew it in my bones and I knew it in my mind. And if you stood close enough to me, you could smell the scent of leather, dirt, and grass oozing from my pores.
The only conclusion I can come to as to why I believed I was headed for the “bigs” was the uniform. Something about that special outfit made me think I actually belonged in baseball’s elite fraternity. I can certainly see it in my own children as the don their uniforms with such pride it makes me smile inwardly. It transforms them and makes them feel special.
Spring is upon us, and baseball and other sports activities have started for many of our kids. And in some circles, youth sports get a bad rap. It is true that sometimes the balance between just being a kid, and becoming the next professional athlete, can get thrown out of whack. But playing sports can also teach important life lessons, and contribute to physical well-being.
As part of a team our kids learn how to contribute AND be accountable. They learn how to lose gracefully and win even more gracefully. They learn actual athletic skills. They get exercise. They deal with the gamut of emotions that sports bring. And they hopefully have fun.
As a kid I didn’t want to limit these feelings to just the ball field, so when my parents gave me my very own uniform, the summer before first grade, I decided come fall, I was going to wear that uniform every single day to school.
In fact, and this is the complete truth, I did wear that baseball uniform to school every day! I mean, every single day!! On Fridays I would hide the uniform in my bottom drawer of my dresser for fear that if I put it in the dirty clothes bin, it would not be washed and ready for school on Monday.
For some reason I never noticed that all the grass and dirt stains were gone every Monday. My mom later told me that she used to sneak in and grab the uniform and wash it every weekend, and then carefully put it back right where I had hidden it. That’s very funny to think about now.
But what’s really amazing is that my parents actually let me wear that uniform every day. I mean, what did the other parents think?! Did my folks have to endure the stares and recriminations of other parents at the school? Or maybe they just didn’t give a hoot. Good for them I say if that’s the case.
What I take from my parent’s example is, let kids be kids. As a parent I need to learn how to separate from them. I need to be able to just sit back and soak them in. I need to understand that they are going to make mistakes and that’s part of how they learn. And I need to be involved, even if it’s just by observing, because the days may go very slowly, but the years pass ever so quickly.
So let’s enjoy our kids this spring. Let’s enjoy them as they laugh with pure joy at reaching first base, even though they got there by a “Base on Balls.” And let’s enjoy them as they score a goal, even though they play in a league with no goalies. Or let’s just enjoy the fact that they’re happy and enjoying the moment, and not worry whether they’re properly preparing to get a Division 1 scholarship. And finally let’s enjoy them as they wear their uniforms with pride, understanding they are a part of a team; something bigger than themselves.
But as I watch my kids, I’ll also be thinking about my uniform. It represented unbridled love, passion, and all the possibilities life had in store for me. I can still to this day, feel every fiber of that uniform. And as I close my eyes, smiling and remembering, a few layers of stress fall away, still smelling like leather, grass, and hope.
What is your opinion on youth sports?
Do you have a special childhood memory that you’re reminded of when your kids play sports?