Monday, June 29, 2009

In praise of 7 year olds

A few months back, before JR turned 7, I read a post on my friend Moxie's blog that had me quaking in my boots about the prospect of my son turning 7. Well the big day has come and gone and let me tell you, I love 7.

We spent the weekend at our first "travel" baseball tournament. Four games in two days. On Sunday the games were five hours apart, so we had a bit of time to kill. We spent that time with three of JR's teammates (and two of the dads). Immediately after the game, there was the trip to a local playground to let them continue their game of catch without smashing any of the car windows in the parking lot of the baseball field. Of course, their interest in playing catch faded quickly as soon as they realized there was playground equipment to climb and a surface made of ground up rubber that was ideal for throwing at each other. Our next stop was a diner for breakfast (did I mention that game one started at 8:00 and ended by 9:15 a.m.?) In between spilled water glasses and duels with knives, forks and spoons, we played Twenty Questions - which gave rise to the type of silliness that is endemic to 7 year olds. "Is it an animal or a thing?" "A thing" "Is it an elephant?" "No, an elephant isn't a thing." "It is if it's a soft gray toy elephant." And so it went.

The next stop was a local funplex where we parents had hoped to occupy the kids at the driving range and miniature golf. The boys had their own ideas. Their favorite activity was a spirited chasing, piling on, wrestling match that we parents loosely monitored for cleats in proximity to heads. Seven year old boys are all about physical contact. Lots of hugging, shoving, picking each other up, wrestling. There was also a fair amount of throwing stuff at each other - helped along by a room full of foam balls. Oh, and of course, there were the arcade games.

Lunchtime meant more silliness, more hugging and shoving and the chance to watch pack mentality in action. The boy who never drinks soda orders the cotton candy flavored Sprite that the other 3 boys want. The boy who hates all cheese gobbles up the lunch of mozzarella sticks and fries just like the lunch his buddies all ordered. They also schooled us in the fine art of translating burp-speech. I admit, I am far from proficient in that skill.

Being seven also means real baseball, with real uniforms, real pitching, real team spirit. The boys encourage each other. Lots of cheering. "We love pork chops, greasy, greasy. Hitting that ball will be easy-peasy." More chasing and piling on for the homerun hitter (well, okay, that was the other team, not ours). Pats on the back and hugs for the kid tagged out at 3rd base, now in tears. Being seven means being able to sit under a tree at the end of the game with the coach and actually dissect what new things about baseball they learned. "I learned not to be afraid when the ball is hit to me in the outfield." There is an intelligence and thirst for learning that is refreshing and inspiring to me.

Being seven means falling asleep in the car on the way home and lifting one's arms up to be carried inside, as if you were not over 50 lbs. of dead weight.

Oh, by the way, we lost all four games and every kid left the ballfield smiling.

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