Take Me Out
Of the Ballgame, Dad!
by Lisa M. Roberts
Use to be that "Take me out to the
ballgame!" meant peanuts, crackerjacks and a chance to yell
like a maniac in a cheering crowd. As a parent of a child in
Little League, it now means keeping track of a twice-weekly laundered
uniform (including the elusive cap and cup!) and orchestrating
too-frequent lessons in winning/losing gracefully. As an EP, it also means relief from long hours in the home
office as you cheer with the other parents from the sidelines...or
coach with the other Dads in the dugout.
- But regardless of what "Take
me out to the ballgame" means to me, I am certain it means
something quite different, and much more, to my 10-year old son
William and fortysomething husband, Ron. Ron has been coaching
William's team since T-ball; at the end of this season, they
are both about ready for the "Majors." Interestingly
enough, over the years I've noticed that to them, the flip side
of the phrase -- "Take me out OF the ballgame" -- is
an almost welcome refrain from its sing-song cousin. The thought
of getting "out of" instead of "out to" is
used as a valve -- to let off steam that comes with the pressure
of being part of a team, part of the competition, part of the
male culture...part of something much bigger clearly than the
game at hand.
- Where is all this pressure coming
from, I have often wondered. Sitting on the sidelines, it becomes
clear enough, as the parallels to the business and work worlds
can be striking. While watching the game I'll hear phrases like
"Hold it together!" when the team in the field is falling
apart from a series of careless errors, and "Way to stay
alive!" when a batter hits a foul ball and there's 2 strikes
already. It's not hard to make the parallel that "staying
alive" and "holding it together" are what it takes
to make it in the world at large. Nor is it hard to imagine that
the elation of catching a high fly ball or stealing home when
least expected will serve a child well as s/he grows into adulthood,
reaching for a professional goal or taking a huge entrepreneurial
- As if an echo to his cyclical
wishes for a career change, sometimes I'll hear my husband say,
"That's it. I'm going to quit coaching. I have no time for
this." And occasionally I'll hear my son say, "I HATE
baseball. I don't EVER want to play again!" But year after
year, season after season, they're still at it. They don't
quit -- even when there's a clear opening to do so. I wonder
whether to them it would be like quitting being a father, or
being a son -- or for my husband, quitting the work world altogether.
Instead the two embrace the beginning of each season with renewed
gusto and determination, and end each season with a sense of
victory -- no matter what the team's Wins or Losses are. Yes,
there's something bigger going on here, something I can't quite
grasp in my sideline role. But it's something about commitment
and follow-through, responsibility and reaching for one's goals.
And I am very grateful for It, for whatever It is, because It
brings to the entire family an aura of fun, excitement and a
strengthening of our collective spirit.
- This Father's Day is the last
game of the season, perhaps the last game of "Triple A"
for both of them. But regardless of what next year brings --
whether they both go "out to" or "out of"
The League -- there is one thing my husband and son can count
on. They'll stick together, one way or another. For the bond
they have formed playing game after game after game (instead
of eating peanuts and crackerjacks!) is far-reaching -- it's
generational, beyond a lifetime. And something neither one will
ever really want to get "out of," after all.
What was the
greatest gift your father gave you? Share the heartfelt lessons
he taught you, and thank him today! Email us!
- Lisa Roberts is the mother of four,
owner of The
Entrepreneurial Parent, LLC and the author of How to Raise A Family &
A Career Under One Roof: A Parent's Guide to Home Business
(Bookhaven Press, 1997). Copies of her book are available for
purchase at EP