A championship win, a baseball field full of mud and…
My Sunday started just as the Saturday before. I packed a small cooler of snacks, grabbed my tote bag full of sunscreen and headed to the ball field. My 13-year-old son’s travel baseball team was finishing off their weekend tournament. With two wins on Saturday, they were the No.1 seed headed into Sunday and had a shot at the championship for the first time.
After a game-one victory, the team headed to the next venue to prepare for their first ever championship match up. You would have thought my son would have been ecstatic, yet when we got in the car there was no smile on his face. He flied out twice during the game and was firmly in the midst of a hitting slump. He told me the coach kept giving him the “take” sign and he was frustrated to have to watch a perfect pitch go by.
While chatting with some dads during that first game, they too, took notice of the number of “take” signs that came from the coach and suggested maybe next time the batter shouldn’t look toward the coach for a sign. I laughed knowing that my ever-so-obedient son would never be so rebellious as to defy an order. Sure enough, when I told him the dads’ comments, he responded, “Mom, coach really hates it when we miss a sign.”
My son, Jake, is by every measure a parent’s dream. He is smart, kind, funny and nearly always does as he’s told. I can’t imagine that there could be an easier kid to parent than Jake. Admittedly, however, he can be a very serious-minded kid, and there are times I secretly wish he could stir the pot just a bit. He is, after all, a 13-year-old boy and exerting a little independence is exactly what he should be doing. I advised him to let loose a little when he gets back up to the plate and just have fun. It’s baseball. It’s supposed to be fun!
The championship game began and our team took the lead in dramatic fashion in the fourth inning. Their bats were hot (except for Jake’s who did not heed my advice and walked and popped out again). In the fifth inning, rain began to fall and with only one inning left and the championship on the line, the umpire rightfully let the game continue as long as possible, lest we win by default. Finally, however, the rain became torrential and he had to call it. We all erupted into cheers as the Field Rats (not my choice of team names for the record) won their first championship!
Excitedly, the kids ran toward the dugout for shelter and the parents huddled under the shade tents that lined the field. It was still raining too hard for anyone to leave so we all stood there and stared at the field as it filled with water.
As the rain continued to fall, the puddles on the field deepened, and the saturated clay glistened. It was as if Mother Nature was enticing us with a celebratory gift for a job well done — a glorious, giant slip-n-slide.
Surely, the kids were thinking what I was thinking.
Two older teen boys from the crowd sprinted onto the field. They slid into every base including magnificent head first dives over home plate that were met with wild applause. After a couple of laps, they left, yet the rest of the kids remained in the dugout.
Finally, one brave Field Rat emerged. As he began to run, his mom screamed, “Don’t you dare slide in those pants!”
She was a White Pants Mom. The type of mom who diligently scrubs, soaks, and washes after every game to ensure that her son’s pants are sparkling white in time for the next. Admittedly, I have tried to be a White Pants Mom. I admire them. They are dedicated and diligent, and youth sports depends on White Pants Moms. They are the ones who organize the team parties; who always know where and when the practices are; and they are the ones who moms like me depend on when we’ve screwed up yet again by showing up to the wrong field at the wrong time.
White Pants Moms always have the backs of moms like me — the Orange Pants Mom.
Orange Pants Moms are proud just to have the pants washed in time for the game, and if the spritz of Spray-n-Wash actually worked it’s a bonus! Our kids’ pants are chronically stained with orange clay and they most likely have holes too. Our houses are unorganized, the laundry is always in piles, and our cars are a mess. It’s not that we’re bad moms, we just don’t make the time, nor have the inclination to care how clean our kids’ pants are. It’s not a priority for us, and that’s okay because sometimes the world needs Orange Pants Moms too.
The lone Field Rat quickly scuttled off and once again, the field lay empty.
My 9-year-old son, Ryan, asked if he could run the bases and my response stunned him. “Yes! Yes, Ryan go!” I declared.
“Really?, I can?” he questioned.
“Yes! Take off your shoes and go!”
He slid his shoes off and apprehensively jogged from the tent toward the field. A minute later he returned.
“What happened?” I asked. “I thought you were going to slide?”
“I can’t? I don’t think we’re supposed to,” he said.
“I said it’s fine. Go!”
But he just stood there, paralyzed by fear of breaking a rule. And then I snapped! I had had it! What have I done to my kids? Why are they always so serious? When did they lose the joy of being a kid? Not only should they slide, they had an obligation to slide on behalf of every kid that ever dreamed of a moment like the one they were currently in! A championship win and a field full of mud? Come on!
“Let’s go!” I demanded.
I took my shoes off and darted from beneath the tent into the pouring rain. Ryan followed behind. As I approached the field, he still tried to convince me it wasn’t allowed, so I ran faster and sprinted toward first base. Never being one to lose a foot race, Ryan beat me to the bag, made the turn and slid into second.
He did it! It was fantastic! By the time I rounded second and headed toward third, Jake emerged from the third-base dugout and ran. He slid head first over home plate splashing up a magnificent muddy wave.
Now it was my turn and I had a decision to make. Unfortunately, I hesitated and ingloriously fell flat on my butt! One parent yelled, “Do over!” and he was right. If I was going to do this, I was going TO DO THIS!
As I began a second lap, a handful of kids joined in, including my 11-year-old daughter, Jolie, in a pair of white shorts. “Slide!” I told her, but she wouldn’t.
I took off from third and headed toward home. This time, I was all in! As I approached, I leaned forward with outstretched arms, and while heralding the torch of Orange Pants Moms everywhere, I belly slid right over home plate.
Maybe there were gasps from other parents. Maybe there was applause. I heard nothing other than the melodious swoosh of the mud as I slid by.
As I got up and began to run again, a bolt of lightning in the distance sent us all scrambling for the dugout. I gathered everyone’s socks and shoes and ran in.
A White Pants Mom made her way to the dugout and snapped a photo of the team hoisting their giant championship trophy. As she did, I just stood there with mascara running down my face and mud dripping from my chin.
Once the rain finally subsided, the kids and I headed to my already dirty car and grabbed my green grocery bags from the trunk to sit on. As we drove off, Jake turned to me and said, “Mom, that was fun!”
Finally. A victory for Orange Pants Moms.