Colorful Distractions

Top three things that can disrupt a softball game played by 4, 5 and 6 year-old girls?

Dandelions? Good guess but not in the top three. Why? Because little girls can play with dandelions while sitting down in right field and still have time to put the dandelion into their pocket and put their glove back on their hand before the ball eventually arrives.

Sprinkles. Nope. Reason? Well, if you’re in kindergarten and your coach says its okay to play in a little bit of rain (as long as there isn’t any lightning), you are going to play in the rain.

Bathroom breaks. Yup. If you gotta go, you gotta go. Tests your managerial skills too. Because as every parent knows, nobody is more susceptible to the power of suggestion than little kids. If one has to go, then a few more have to go. When you lose one side of the infield, you have improvise, adapt, overcome. You get to make up positions. Like the lonefielder. This is the person who plays the entire outfield. And the pitcherbaseman. A fielder who sort of plays that areas between the rubber, second base and shortstop.

Falling flower petals. As I’ve mentioned before, flowering dogwoods should be banned from softball complexes. Grown-ups have enough challenges keeping 20 kindergarteners armed with aluminum clubs and round yellow projectiles focused for an hour without landscaping professionals playing tree jokes on us.

Rainbows. Until last night, I really thought rainbows were nice. They have pretty colors and only show up after the rain storm is over. Turns out they are really a practical joke played by God on parents who volunteer to coach softball. The wind and sprinkles blow through just as we get through our first at bat. All the girls except two got hits without using the tee! It was amazing. We suddenly turned into the Lumber Company. We have one little girl who just turned 5. She’s teeny. Man, she put the fat part of the bat smack dab on the ball and lifted it past third base. There was an audible “Geeeeeeeezzz…” from the parents.

Anyhow, the front moves through with bright blue sky behind it. And we get a rainbow. I’m out trying to our 1st baseman, 2nd baseman and right fielder, who was Bails by the way, focused on the batter.

“Okay girls, get ready. If the ball comes to you, throw it to first.”

“Hey look a rainbow!”

“Oh yeah, that’s great. It’ll be there after we’re done. Get in your ready position.”

“Did the wind bring that rainbow?”

“Um, yeah, I guess. Sort of. I should know this. I got a “B” in meteorology.”

“The rainbow is here because it wants us to be happy!”

“It also wants you to field any grounders and throw them to first!”

That’s when our second baseman looked at me the way Green Day looks at Republicans.

“No it doesn’t.”

“Okay, you’re right. But if the rainbow is here, that means the rain is over and we get to play more softball.”

“Look there’s two rainbows!”

Seriously. A double rainbow. In Iowa. Aren’t these things only supposed to happen in Hawaii or something? Thankfully we were able to finish out the game despite the obstacles. And the girls had a great time. Bailey was inches from catching the first fly ball of the year. One of the girls fielded a grounder at third and actually had the presence of mind to touch third before throwing to first. Ball didn’t come close to making it and was really headed to center field but we almost, and I’m using the most liberal definition of “almost,” had our first double play. I yelled “good job!” to her and she gave a me a hearty “Woo!” and flashed the #1 at me. Plus all of them except one got a hit without using the tee. That’s not a bad day. Especially when your first baseman correctly places her foot on the bag and holds up her glove ready to receive every throw to first base tells you the reason she isn’t catching is because “the ball is scary!”

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