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I was wholly unprepared for t-ball

This past year found me barreling through a wide array of parenting milestones. My oldest son entered kindergarten which meant there was a lot of learning on the fly in our household.

In a manner of weeks, I had to ascertain what things my son would and would not eat when packed in his lunch, how to make sure library books didn't become lost in his room within seconds of their arrival and how to explain that not every scrap of paper that he brings home needs to be plastered onto our refrigerator.

Later in the school year, just after I started to think I had a handle on things, the learning curve got significantly steeper. Because that's when t-ball started.

As an avid participant in t-ball 30 years ago and as someone who is paid, in part, to be knowledgable of the local youth sports scene, I am pained to admit that I was still woefully unprepared for this experience.

That much was made evident the evening of our first practice. Elliott showed up with his bat and glove and in what I thought was reasonable attire consisting of tennis shoes, grubby pants and a sweatshirt.

But, when I looked around, I immediately realized I had failed my son. Many of his new teammates were sporting sparkling, rain resistant baseball pants and athletic shirts and had equipment bags that would have made them look entirely comfortable showing up at spring training in Arizona.

My son was also the only player not wearing cleats, an error whose egregiousness I recognized after my first step onto the sodden playing field.

At that moment I was convinced that I had already destroyed my son's athletic career before it had even started. By showing up so unprepared, I had irreparably handicapped his development.

Fortunately, Elliott didn't seem to notice or care much (although he did understandably complain about how wet his feet were by the end of the night.)

That first practice was spent on the fundamentals of t-ball: learning people's names, refraining from throwing gloves at each other and resisting the urge to sit down on the field. At these skills, Elliott was no better or worse than his peers.

Still, the very next day, I ventured to the nearest sporting goods store and bought Elliott baseball pants, cleats and a waterproof jacket, plus a cheap set of outdoor chairs so my wife and I would not look as unprepared at the first game as our son was at his first practice.

The season itself was a resounding success, at least from my estimation. My son's Green Lions led the league in fielder's indifference, times a pitcher got brained by a line drive without crying and snack quality.

Elliott's participation trophy sits proudly on his dresser next to his rarely-used glove. One season down and one more milestone crossed. Now please let me know what faux pas to avoid with the encroaching soccer season.

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