There's a mom at the softball games who ridicules her child when she's at bat, and we can all hear her. Here's what I'd like to say to that woman.

For reasons I'll never quite grasp, my daughter enjoys playing on a softball team. This is baffling to me for a few reasons, the principal of which is my own disdain for organized sports. Organized sports broke my soul.

OK, maybe that's a little dramatic. But it did suck, a lot. I was no good and I had coaches who seemed to hate me for it, and I could never quite figure out what I was doing there. You know, since I sucked. There were the good kids and there was me, and we could never quite be friends. I felt like an outsider and an imposter and the one thing that was ruining the team.

stack of vintage novels

Of course I was also not willing to try super hard or practice excessively, mostly because I was more interested in reading John Steinbeck. No really, I read my first Steinbeck book when I was 9. It confused me.

My daughter appears to be having the same experience. She leaves most games and pizza parties butt-hurt and sad. I know the feeling. When she tells me about it, I often offer some really helpful input such as, "Yeah, well. Get used to it. If you aren't the best player on the team, you're nobody. If you want to become somebody, you need to work your ass off to become among the best, and then they'll like you."

So there was this mom...

This past season, there was this mom who would ridicule her daughter who was at bat, trying, I imagine, to not suck. I could hear the mother from the other side of the bleachers. When her daughter would swing and miss, the mother would laugh and cackle, dripping with sarcasm, "OMG, what was that!? I don't know what she's thinking." If the girl swung and missed, the mother would say, "What is she doing? Why would she swing at that?"

She would laugh at the girl. Her voice was cruel and embarrassing and ridiculing.

You know your daughter can hear you, right?

One evening, after this had happened multiple times, and she said something particularly awful, I turned around, looked at her squarely and asked, "You know your daughter can hear you, right?"

I don't think she responded, but I got up and walked away. I was almost shaking I was so angry.

I wanted to tell her what it feels like to be the kid who can't play. I wanted to tell her what it feels like to be the one who sucks. I wanted to tell her how I was that kid and my mom was the thing that made it OK, that made it all palatable. She was the one who didn't give a crap how I played and defended me against the coach who ridiculed me.

She was the one who reminded me who and what I am, after games, when it became unclear if I were a human at all.

Maybe I was just a shell of a human, the pathetic kid, because I swung at "balls" and couldn't hit and got picked last when the kids chose teams at recess.

My mom didn't care

It was my mom who didn't care about that crap. It was my mom who never for a second told me I should be more or better. She saw I sucked at sports, but she saw the rest, too. She saw I was a writer and a reader, a kid who dreamed about weird things and wrote even weirder things, but wrote, a lot.

It wasn't a talent the other kids valued, but it's a talent they value now. You know, now that they're grown.

And so did my mom.

So, lady at the softball game ridiculing your kid, why don't you see that this isn't about you. Your daughter's life isn't your life and it isn't her problem that she's making you look bad. We can all see you're embarrassed by your kid. We can hear it in your voice. We see right through you. And it makes us sick.

And we see your little girl, throwing glances back at you from home base, as she swings the bat at a ball rolling on the ground, ashamed, wondering what her mom's thinking, maybe wishing she could be better, for you, the one who can't see that she's so much more.

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