Let me rephrase that… we aren’t just playing kickball — Kickball is a game of war around here. This is where all of that testosterone, the sibiling rivalry, and the pent-up teen angst is released. Balls will come darting right at you, at high speeds, just when you’re about to touch the base. There is no mercy here. You had better be fast, and you had better get tough and suck it up.
When that ball is kicked straight at your face, duck. Fast.
I am required to play. Without me, the teams would not have the same amount of players. So, like I said, it’s a good thing I did those sprints — because I need that speed for this game.
I was chosen first — if you must know. When the captains called the teams, I was chosen, I learned later, NOT for my athletic ability (shocking, I know), but for my endurance. It’s good to know how others value your strenghts, and more importantly what those strenghts are. Because, apparently, I am not as fast as I thought I was.
It pays, also, to have friends across enemy lines. Once, a ball was coming straight at me, and I could not outrun that ball, and I knew and I was out. But the ball never came… Fun Size jumped right in front of that ball and took the hit for me, because he said, “She’s a girl. You don’t do that.”
Still, I have a large open scrape on my knee cap and thigh as I grazed the fire pit seats when I was trying to lead off onto second base.
One of our biggest challenges is Rosie. She gets so confused during this game. We don’t allow her to touch this ball, because she hews up the ball and worse, never gives us the ball back. So, imagine how bewildering it is for her when we suddenly say, “Rosie, go get the ball,” because the ball is in the water, and we all have shoes on.. and we can’t reach it. This sets her tail wagging, and yet she never does get the ball. So, one of us has to take our shoes off to get the ball anyway.
But the fact that we asked her to get the ball makes Rosie think this is a free pass to touch the ball, so she tries to join the game, waiting for the ball to get thrown, standing right smack in our way, often diving for the ball once its kicked, arriving on the scene faster than the Lone Ranger.
Other times, she notices that I’m wearing those pink shoes I wear when I say to her those taboo words, “Do you want to go for a run,” so as I run the bases, she runs beside me, looking up at me, and saying, “Gee, isn’t this fun? Thanks for inviting me.”
Other times, she’s mindlessly laying in the sand, and minding her own business, when all of a sudden, she darts after the ball after it’s been kicked, arriving first on the scene.
Of course, this action requires more rules, adjustments and fights. No one can remember the score each night, except for tonight, when our team captain pulled out a piece of scrap paper from his pocket, and began scribbling the stats of the game onto the wrinkled page, stuffing it into his pocket during plays.
I can remember playing this more than 7 years ago, when we first came here, and we were teaching the little boys how to play… I can remember coaching him, “Just run home,” before the plays started. And there, standing on second base, the littlest one would start running home, skipping third and making a beeline for home.
He’s an efficient player.
But he’s bigger now, and he understands how to run the bases. But still, he’s no match for his big brothers. So, how do we balance out the skill levels of the two teams? That’s a very interesting question… and one that I couldn’t quite figure out, at first, until I asked, my second oldest, middle, “Why did you pick me? Is it my speed?” Instead of saying no, he said, like I said above, my endurance. But why did you pick the baby? So, you had dad, soccer star, (fun size) and your older brother, (the national crew team member), against me and the baby? You couldn’t have picked a worse team. You picked a team stacked for failure.
He said, “I like to be coach. There isn’t anyone on that other team I could tell what to do.”
And he’s right.
So, how surprised are you to learn we won? In four innings we scored 23 runs, against their 21. In our defense, we could all kick the ball pretty well and run home, but in the outfield? Basically he was playing by himself, catching every ball and tagging every out, while we stood by and said, “Go, get the ball.”
We weren’t supposed to win. On paper, our team was stacked to loose. But we played with heart.