Saturday, April 20, 2013

Angels in the Outfield

It's interesting, the things that make me emotional sometimes.  Today it was baseball.

Matthew has joined what is called "The Miracle League."  It is a group of kiddos with varying disabilities who get to play baseball with the assistance of volunteers--coaches, professional, college, and high school athletes--who literally take them through every step of the game, offering assistance when necessary.

Today was my first experience with this and I promise you, I saw angels in that outfield.  Matthew was totally uncooperative--I'm not exaggerating.  When up to bat, they'd have to motor him through the entire event and, when it was time to run to first, he'd go limp and they'd carry/drag him to first base.  He'd semi-run/walk/splash in mud puddles as he made his way around the rest of the bases.  While playing in the outfield, he'd wave at me, yell "HI! HI! HI!" over and over, and several times, escape and run madly for the fence where he could see us.  Adi and I just laughed, waved back, and attempted to "negotiate" with him, trying to get him to go back to the outfield.  I watched his TWO buddies (not just one, but two "buddies") struggled with him and literally chased him around the muddy field as they worked to keep track of my squirmy, distracted, totally uninterested player.

They play four innings--each team bats and plays outfield twice.  Every kid hits.  There were some kids who would swing with all their might and strength...over and over and over.  And the sweet, patient pitcher would encourage them and throw ball after ball while we, parents and friends in the stands, would cheer each kid like it was the world series.  When they would hit, I'd almost cry...every time!  By the end, I knew everyone's names and started to learn the stories of the other kiddos on his team.  Most have been playing for several seasons, and many of the parents watched Matthew, laughed WITH me, and sympathized, saying their kids struggled at first as well...encouraging me to stick with it.  They would cheer just as loudly as I would when Matthew got up to bat.

During the last inning, Matthew was in the outfield.  After his first experience (though he did catch a grounder--completely assisted, but credited with the catch nonetheless), they decided to take Matthew a little farther outfield.  I watched them find a game that he could and would do..."run" the ball back and forth between his buddies.  He can't really throw a ball, so catch was out of the question.  He won't stand still to save his life, so playing a position was a bit tough.  But he likes to run to they gave him a ball, and he ran back and forth between them, smiling and squealing every time he'd reach one of them.  I felt SO grateful to these kind "buddies" who met my Matthew where he was instead of trying to get him to just play the game he'd come to play.

I've come to recognize these past months, especially on those days where the "daily" gets the best of me, that I'm not alone in this.  It is absolutely taking a village to raise my son, and I am so touched that, in a world where things can be so ugly, there are angels in my outfield.