I never wanted to be that grown up. The one that is too old to have fun anymore. I’m afraid I was quickly approaching that until today. As you might have deduced from the title, I have kickball to thank for helping me get in touch with the inner child again. I would like to say I went willingly, but unfortunately, it was more like kicking and screaming.
In our town, the third graders from all over the district come together for a kickball tournament. Well, today was the day for that. I knew it was coming. Fortunately, I have a job that affords me the opportunity to take some time and watch my kid play despite the fact that it is during school.
Earlier in the week, I made the mistake of telling my wife that I would be available on Friday. I was meaning I could go by and catch a game. What she understood it to mean was great you can coach a team. You can imagine the joy I felt when I learned that Friday’s circumstances would change.
Still, I was okay with it somewhat. It’s usually a knockout tournament. My daughter was one and done a few years back. I figured hopefully we’d win one or two and bow out gracefully.
Nope! The format has changed over time. No longer will there be a lone winner. Now you are guaranteed four games. As luck would have it, my last game would be the final game of the day.
I will admit it. I started the day with a pretty rotten attitude. I didn’t want to spend an entire day coaching third graders in meaningless kickball games. I couldn’t have been more wrong. As the day went on, my attitude progressively changed.
First off, we arrived at the field at 9am. We wouldn’t see our first action until 10;30. So, not only did I have to coach, I had to play babysitter for an hour and a half. By gametime, I was ready to go.
It was a boy vs. boy/girl vs. girl tournament. Our boys opened with a team that had just seven fielders. We did a fair job of beating them pretty good. However, my kid fouled out, and much to my surprise, he had a sorry attitude about all of it. Wonder where he got that?
The team doesn’t listen to me or the other coach. They constantly make the same mistakes. I am frustrated beyond comprehension, but I am holding it in because my wife has already got on to me once. We lose under the goofiest of circumstances.
However, there is one little boy on our team that has little to no self esteem. Do you ever get that feeling that some things are put before you that the man upstairs thinks you can have an influence on? This little guy was the case, and as we were waiting for the next game to begin, I thought I needed to do an aboutface.
We drew a pretty tough team. They were better than the ones who beat us. We are on equal footing and the game could go either way, but I decided to try to have some fun and open up to the kids.
We battled back and forth, and that one little boy, got out twice. However, in the process of getting out, he managed to get in three runs. Runs we desperately needed. I tried to constantly remind him of that as he was walking back to the dugout.
Long story short, we win, but just barely.
As it turns out, game four sees us face off against a team that is 3-0, and we are 2-1. There are some things you just can’t remove from a competitive person, and one of those is the idea that if you are one game back and the team you are playing is undefeated, you win and not only do you tie for best record but you have the tiebreaker with a head-to-head win.
I won’t lie. I wanted to win this game, and to say I might have talked all of these scenarios up to my team would be a fair representation of the facts. This time though we were going to have fun because in the midst of all this my attitude had changed.
They jumped on us for six runs, and we squeaked back with five. We pulled a triple play, and everything was looking great. With a couple of kickers left, they were up by three at 8-5, and in kickball, that is easy to overcome.
Then the wheels fell off. We give up three more and find ourselves going into our final turn down 11-5.
In the meantime, one of our five runs is this little boy I was telling you about. See I know God puts things into perspective for us sometimes. The kid makes it to first. The next kicker moves him to second. The next kicker gets him around third and home, and as he crosses home plate, in the most gratifying voice you hear him say, “This is the first home run I’ve ever made!”
Awesome. He was a winner. He felt like a winner and we were down a couple of runs still. If that doesn’t make you stop and think, I’m not sure what could.
Well, 11-5 and one round of kicking left. It doesn’t look good, but we start chipping. We put three runs on the board including that little boy again who is now a master at “home runs.”
We have the bases loaded. Our last kicker comes to the plate. The only thing the other team has to do is field the ball and throw it to the pitcher (dumb rule, but whatever).Then, the magic happened.
The Miracle Finish
A slow roller is fielded and they try to get the kid going to first out. Overthrow! One run in! Then another! They manage to try and chase this kid down at second, and he slides into second. The ball flies over his head and into centerfield. I don’t have to tell you the rest. He makes it around. Four runs, and a 12-11 victory!
I think back to Matthew 18.
He called a little child to Him, and placed the child among them. And He said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. And whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me.
I think I witnessed that today. I don’t think I was very welcoming this morning. It obviously had an affect on my child, but man, when you open up and let it in, you learn more from them than they will ever learn from you.
I’d like to just encourage you to take these verses to heart. Think about what you can learn from observing, and I can guarantee that if you do you will find what I found in the joy of kickball!