Last night Peter’s t-ball team had their end of season party at Chuck E. Cheese. When we pulled into the parking lot I could tell that some of the boys had their team shirts on. I said, “Oh, rats!” Peter immediately said, “What’s wrong, Mommy?” with this very alarmed little voice. “Oh it’s nothing,” I tried to say nonchalantly. “I just see some of your teammates and they are wearing their t-ball shirts. I meant to bring yours. It’s no big deal. I’m sure there will be some other kids without theirs on.” Why did I have to open my big mouth in the first place?
As I was unbuckling him and helping him out of the car he said, “I don’t want to go in. I’m afraid they will laugh at me.” I asked him why he thought they would laugh at him. “What if they laugh because I don’t have my shirt on? They won’t recognize me.” I wanted to cry right there standing in the parking lot of Chuck E. Cheese. I’m sure standing in the parking lot of CEC has brought many a parent to tears but this was for something other than the knowledge that loud music, flashing lights and mediocre pizza was in their future. My little one was clearly unsure of himself because of something stupid I did. I reassured him that they would know who he was and we headed in. As soon as we got inside the music and lights hypnotized him and he forgot all about his insecurities.
I am so proud of Peter. Not because he learned some baseball fundamentals this season like which direction to head around the bases, how to swing a bat and that snack time comes after the game. I’m not proud because of any of that. I’m proud because he played on a team without knowing anyone. He jumped right in. He took on a sport he didn’t know anything about and he did it on a team where he didn’t know anyone. He didn’t seem scared about not knowing anyone he just did it. He didn’t really make any friends on the team but that’s not his fault. Our coach rarely had practice and it’s hard to make friends when you are actually “playing” the game. He seemed excited to go to every game and he really seemed to want to fit in. I guess that’s what made me sad standing in the parking lot. I didn’t think he really cared about fitting in at the age of four but I guess all we any of us want is to find a place where we fit.
I am going to try harder next season to see if he can get on a team with some of his friends and I am going to try harder to talk to some parents at the games. It will be easier for him to make friends it I make friends. Not sure why but at the age of 37, I still feel like I’m the pudgy 12 year old trying to fit in trying to find a place where I fit.
When it was time to eat pizza I convinced Peter to sit at the table with his teammates. He sat down and started to eat. It almost made me cry to see this beautiful little boy in his camouflage t-shirt surrounded by white Cubs shirts. He didn’t care about any of that at this point he was just happy to be eating pizza.