“Keep Your Eyes on the Ball, Grandma”By
A four-year-old boy and a grandmother can play some mighty fine softball, I can testify. (I’m the GM.)
Yesterday I had several hours with Calvin (not his real name) on my own. We started off reading a couple books together; then he leapt off the couch and jumped around on the tile of the living room floor, gazing at me. It was clear some physical activity would be appreciated. “Let’s go out to the back yard,” I say.
There’s a narrow cement strip between the garage and the lemon trees. That will have to do as our diamond. Calvin picks up the blue plastic bat lying nearby and gently kicks a small blue ball toward me. I’m to pitch for the first round; he’ll bat.
To watch him as batter is a treat. He does a brief leg-crossing kick-jump routine first as he get the bat up to his shoulder. Then he takes one hand and brushes his ears and shakes his head, as if there were gnats about. (There aren’t. I think he has an allergy and there’s itching inside his ears.) Then he curls his tongue in that little U shape that it seems only people with certain genes can do.
“You ready?” I ask.
“Yep.” He leans forward.
I pitch. He hits the ball. I pitch again. He hits again. Ten out of ten. I’m impressed.
“Okay, now it’s my turn to bat,” I say. (Fair’s fair, and besides, he needs to learn to pitch, too.)
I take up the plastic bat. From previous experience, I know it has a split in it somewhere, and it makes a great crack! sound—like it’s surely a home-run—when you connect with full force, though the ball travels hardly 10 yards. I want to make that kind of connection.
Calvin pitches. I swing and miss. He pitches. I foul the ball. He pitches again. I miss. Hmm. I used to be a pretty good softball player. Well, next time, I’ll surely connect and get that impressive crack! I say to myself. He pitches. I miss. How did that happen?
“Grandma,” he advises with authority, “you got to keep your eyes on the ball.”