Strike three –you’re out!
Lately I’ve been reading other people’s blog posts and comments about the ‘unfair (dis)advantage’ of having kids with special needs on a team and the kids who are with younger peers. Now, I need to be honest: I know absolutely nothing about sports.
I know T-Ball is baseball, but the players are pint-sized and the ball sits on a stick. The players hit the ball with a bat. The coach then tells the kid to run, and points where the kid needs to run to. (This is important, you don’t want the kids running just anywhere, like back to their friends in the dugout).
The player then runs around the baseball diamond, trying to jump on all the bases. (This makes a squishy sound.) The player is not allowed to stop and pick dandelions on the way around.
I know when I need to bring snack and drinks for the kids on the team on my assigned night, that juice boxes and rice crispy squares are the way to go. Kids love them and the other parents will appreciate the no food dye/no chocolate/no nuts/no mess thoughtfulness that went into my selection. Bringing wet wipes for sticky hands and faces will score more points with the parents.
I know the kids in the outfield pick dandelions. Kids in the infield fill their baseball gloves and/or hats with gravel. Kids in either area sit on the ground and dig holes.
Players of either team are prone to hugging or talking to each other. The first baseman may bear-hug the runner. Players from the opposite teams may also dig holes in the gravel together.
I know baseball hats are important because that’s where the dandelions and gravel go. (No, we can’t bring it home – let’s leave it for next time.) Baseball hats are also used for hitting players from your own or the opposite team. No malice intended, it’s just fun to go THWACK!
I know that at the end of the game player from both sides line up and give each other high fives. These guys also sometimes give hugs. I know that players from the other team check out the snacks that we have. That’s OK, we lose some players to their snack line up too.
Mr. Sensitive is in T-Ball this year. I think this might be his last year, as I can see some parents and players becoming overly competitive. I’ve seen fathers yell at their own 4 year olds in a way that could get them charged with harassment if they did it to an adult. Then they get angry when their child dissolves into a sea of tears. Why? It’s only a game.
Do I care if his team wins or loses? Nope. It’s how you play the game. Some grown-ups need to learn this.
Mr. Sensitive has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy and will be in his second year of T-Ball with kids his age. What do I ask for? That he be accommodated for. He needs frequent breaks, the running significantly reduced, and someone to make sure he heads around the diamond in the right direction. Mr. Sensitive struggles to make it around the diamond once a game. After that, he’d rather look at ants in the dirt. But, he is an awesome batter, and would be a great designated hitter.
What do I hope everyone on his team does? Accept him. Be his friend. Play with him. Those kids know it’s not about winning or losing – heck, they can’t even keep score – it’s how you play the game.
I think everyone can learn from playing with a kid who has Autism, Down Syndrome, or a physical ability. And it’s not just about T-Ball, either.
I wish some parents would figure it out.