A Lesson Learned in the Game of Little League Baseball

Vinitha Pastor's picture

This past season, my older son who is 7, reached the level of “serious baseball.” His team was off and on all season, until the last two games, when they were ON. They won their last two games and entered the playoffs on fire! They won their first two playoff games and had to win one more to get to the championship game.

In this last game, their team was down early 4-0. Then they came back! In the bottom of the last inning, they were winning 7-4! Needless to say, the other team scored 4 runs and his team lost. It was heartbreaking watching 11 little boys burst into tears. In the next few minutes, I went through a multitude of emotions. Here’s what I learned from it.

We sometimes try to do everything we can to save our kids from feeling upset because we think that’s our job. In that moment, when I watched my son and his teammate shake hands with the other team and sob while doing so, I was completely helpless. There was absolutely nothing I could do to save him from feeling sad. I couldn’t save him from his disappointment of losing. I, like most parents, never want my kids to feel upset. And admittedly, I do try to do everything I can to shield them from hurt. In that moment though, I realized that it wasn’t my job to save him from his feelings. He walked off the field and I hugged him and told him how proud I was of him. And we both shed some tears. In that moment, that was my job.

We spend a lot of time trying to save others from their feelings. We sometimes don’t say things that are on our mind because we are worried that the other person will be sad. Or mad. Or upset. We stuff our own feelings for the sake of others. There are times that this is completely okay and sometimes necessary to do. So when does it become problematic? When it becomes a pattern. When you end up becoming resentful. I’ve done this, as have most people.

The question you have to ask yourself is, how am I going to feel about myself in the long term? Will I be okay because I’ve let it go and moved on? Or will I become resentful to the point that I won’t want to be around this person? If the answer is the former, great! But you actually have to let it go and move on. If the answer is the latter, then say something. Put your self-respect above your relationship. Let the other person know how you feel and allow them to feel how they feel. It’s not your job to save them from their feelings.

These were all concepts I have known for a long time, at least since my career as a therapist started. But it was the first time I’d been able to apply it to my own child. The best part of the situation, which he was able to realize a few days later, is that he had a great time, a great season and a great team. And he wants to get better. Letting him be sad didn’t ruin his love of the game. It may have even made him love it more.