Tonight was the beginning of baseball season for us. Raphael is playing again this year, and this was his first game. It started at 7pm.
We were sitting, facing into the setting sun, so we spent most of the game with our hands up, trying to shield our eyes from the blinding rays. Towards the end of the game, the sun dipped behind a cloud, which would have been great news if it hadn't been so wildly cold. The wind was blowing roughly a hundred miles an hour, and the temperature was low enough to inspire me to mutter helpful things like, "It's NEARLY JUNE" and "May 30. THE END OF MAY." Everyone was greatly comforted by this, I am sure.
Sophia wanted one of our folding chairs, but there were only enough for the adults and one left over for a kid, and Max got that one. She felt strongly that someone should give up their chair for her, based upon the compelling fact that She Wanted One, but no one else quite saw it that way. She decided to show her displeasure by stomping away, rolling on the ground in obvious distress, and refusing to talk to anyone. She peeled off her jacket and shoes, just to prove...something. The rest of us lost several toes to sympathetic frost bite, which is totally a thing that happens.
Raphael's team has only been a team for one day, and I'm afraid their performance today sort of showed that. This is not a competitive league, so far be it from me to suggest an actual score for the game, but it may have rhymed with Line to Lero. There was sullenness during the collection of after game snacks.
As we straggled to our cars, trailing chairs, blankets, and a displeased four-year-old, I had to shake my head. How are we doing this AGAIN? Have we not been on this merry-go-round enough already? The summer looms ahead, long and filled with little packages of Oreos (why do we insist on feeding our young athletes crap?). First game behind us, and I'm already weary.
But then again, there was Raphael's glowing face. After a few minutes to recover from the bitter loss, he was renewed in his baseball faith. When we got home, he scrounged dinner leftovers from the fridge and chattered as he ate about what went right and what could be better.
"Next game," he promised, "next game will be better."
And there you are. There are about a million reasons not to play youth baseball, and only one really good reason TO play.
Because he loves it.