Monday, August 6, 2012

Guest Blogger - Maryellen Brisbois "Magic Off The Softball Diamond"

Magic Off the Softball Diamond

I wasn’t always nice to my parents growing up.  I guess a lot of it was typical adolescent stuff, but I still regret the eye rolling, tutting (as my friend KB’s mother called it when you ‘tskd’), and picking fights at every opportunity. I was a rebel in my own mind and proud of it. What I would give to go back for a do-over.

Nothing in my life made sense until my daughter was born. Oh sure, there were some moments of clarity after my sons came into the world, but after Mackenzie was born things just made more SENSE! My friend Francie’s mom shared this phenomenon with us many years ago. She had five sons before she had a daughter. I didn’t understand what she was revealing until I had a daughter of my own. The craziest thing is that I still can’t articulate what I mean; but I know the stars aligned and all was right with the world. And for the record, it has been that way ever since.

I have tried to impart as much knowledge about ‘life’ to my daughter since that day of lucidity in May of 1995. I think we all do as mothers; trying to provide our children a heads-up before the kindergarten bus whisks them away, before puberty sets in, before the drama of high school rears its ugly head and as boys start calling (or texting).  I wanted her to be strong, be oozing with self esteem, make first-rate decisions, have lofty aspirations without getting bogged down in too much bullshit, and be understanding of people.

Mackenzie grew strong with her brothers at the helm. When she was three years old, the boys called me outside to meet their ‘new’ street hockey goalie. Much to my surprise (and absolute panic) they had dressed her in their baseball catching equipment (mask and all), handed her a hockey stick and plunked her in the goalie net. Before I could open my mouth to protest, the neighborhood game ensued. I watched Mackenzie (aka Mack or Kenzie) deflect the shots on goal. She was now their official goalie; a ‘natural’ they told me.

Fast forward 14 years and Kenzie is a softball catcher in the recent Baystate Games. Shortly after the game started, an elderly man and young girl position their chairs alongside mine. I overhear the elderly man tell his granddaughter that he drove a “long way” for her to see a “real softball catcher”.  The granddaughter rolled her eyes, and tutted. When the inning ended, the grandfather asked the coach if he could ask the catcher a few questions.

He then approached Kenzie and asked what the three hardest things about softball were. Kenzie responded that calling the right pitches, blocking wild pitches and throwing runners out on base could be difficult. When asked what the three best things about softball were, Kenzie responded that cheering for the team,  having family support and playing together topped her list.

He seemed appeased by her answers and smiled at his granddaughter, an aspiring 10 year old catcher. As her grandfather paused briefly in the shade before heading home, his granddaughter told me that he embarrassed her sometimes.  I hesitated (I really did!) but then whispered to her that I wished I had my grandfather still with me. 

As the game ended, Kenzie walked over to say goodbye to her new fans.  The grandfather was choked up and I have to admit I was a bit too. The pair walked toward the parking lot for their long ride home talking and smiling. What can I say, she’s a natural.

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