Today, I attended my second T-ball baseball game for my three-year-old grandson. Needless to say, the games are hilarious. When the ball is hit, everyone on the field – except those fully consumed with playing in the dirt, watching butterflies, or sitting down – chases after the ball at once. It is almost like the scramble when a foul ball is hit into the stands at a major league baseball game. Half the time, runners either run in the wrong direction or not at all. No one keeps score and the parent/player ratio is about 1:2 in the field. It is all fun, though, and the kids are beginning to learn the basics of the best game ever invented (at least that is my opinion).
You hear some interesting comments at one of these games. I thought it might be helpful to list a few of these and provide the lesson for all the adults reading. So, here we go (honestly, these are actual quotes from today’s two inning game):
- “Don’t fight over the ball!” – This is heard frequently when the kids create a rugby-style mass when trying to emerge from the pile with the ball when hit. Lesson for adults: We need to collaborate with each other to accomplish the goal. Fighting for the credit is selfless and hurts the whole team.
- “I are hot!” – Though the temperature today was pleasant, a three-year-old isn’t used to standing in the sun with little to do. The “hot” excuse is probably just a way of saying, “Enough of this. What’s next?” Lesson for adults: Finish what you start, even if it is not pleasant. If you make a commitment, fulfill it.
- “Can we go to the pool yet?” – The ball diamond for these kids is immediately next to a swimming pool. The kids can see others their age going down the slide, splashing, and enjoying the cool water, while they are standing on a dusty field in the sun doing something that they can’t quite understand. Lesson for adults: Learning something new is not always easy. We have to experience some pain and frustration before we really start to enjoy it.
- “Stand up. You can’t catch the ball if you are sitting down!” – Three-year-olds do not understand the concept of being prepared. Soon, if they continue learning the game, they will know how to prepare and be ready for action. Lesson for adults: We can’t always do our best by reacting to things. Preparedness and anticipation are necessary to ensure that we perform at our best when the unexpected occurs.
- “I got to go potty!” – A three-year-old doesn’t yet understand how important it is to take care of necessary business before a big event. Lesson for adults: No one can think straight, perform at their best, or be patient when you need to use the restroom. Anticipate… and, take needed breaks often to keep everyone sharp.
- “Quit playing in the dirt!” – There is a lot to learn about playing in the dirt. You can make things, draw, and make things happen with the right kind of dirt. Plus, it is fun to carry some home on your clothes. Lesson for adults: We need to major on the majors. Staying focused on the most important things is hard, especially when something more fun is in the way. First things first!
- “No, stop! You’re running in the wrong direction!” – When a three-year-old hits the ball, they know they need to run, but they often don’t have any idea where they need to run. So, they just run! Know the right direction to run will come next. Lesson for adults: Running just to be running might be healthful, but it might not get you where you want or need to be. Having a goal or vision is important. Leaders, the lack of a direction is frequently the reason your own team is not performing at the level you hope or expect. Check the direction you have outlined!
- “Good job, Buddy, you ran the right direction that time!” – Part of the benefit for a three-year-old T-ball star is learning from mistakes. They all make many mistakes. However, how the coaches, parents, and grandparents handle those mistakes can make all the difference in whether they even want to come back next week. Lesson for adults: We need to encourage each other. No one intentionally fails! So, when something wrong does happen, we need to help them learn from it and encourage them to get up, dust off their pants, and try again. That is just what a good leader and a good friend does.
Baseball for a three-year-old should be a fun introduction to a terrific game. Watching the kids progress week-to-week is enjoyable as they learn to do things the right way. No one is an expert the first time they try something. We need to learn from the mistakes we make, be patient with each other, and encourage each other. After all, that’s what keeps us coming back.
Have a great day!