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Advice for all you Little League mamas

Hey, all you Little League mamas with your calendars marked up with regular practice, batting practice and two games a week (you know who you are). I have some advice to share with you, the kind I learned the hard way, during my 15 years on those bleachers you now occupy. Maybe it’s worth a minute of your hard-to-come-by reading time.

Leave your cash at home on game nights. No matter how well you feed them at home, the concession stand will be calling their name 15 minutes after you arrive at the field. Amazingly enough, giant pickles, pixie sticks and nachos made from orange stuff out of a five-gallon drum will be the big draw.

Hold on to your flip flops. I once witnessed a mom stand on a bleacher at Exchange Park and threaten to do bodily harm to a catcher with her footwear. Mama bears, control your emotions.

Beware the bat. Some families spend more on their child’s bat than I spent on my first car. If your child happens to borrow one and somehow manages to crack it while popping one to left field, get ready to ante up. Better yet, just use your own.

Get to know your neighbors. One season I sat next to the scorekeeper for my daughter’s softball team.

She smiled, I smiled, we traded scores — the stuff of surface relationships. I was probably too busy to try to make a friend. That fall, she took her own life. I regretted that I had not made the effort to know her.

Stand your ground. There once was this family who would not do ball on Sundays. Their son was placed on a team that held practice on Sundays, so he didn’t go. To any. At the end of the season, he was the only player picked from that team for All-Stars. Draw your own conclusions. (Especially those of you I saw at the sports complex last Sunday morning when we were driving to church).

Live it up. If your son’s team happens to win the all-star tournament, then the regionals, and ends up under some big lights at the state finals in say, hmmm, Pascagoula, make the most of it. Go all in and reserve the hotel room and buy the T-shirts. You won’t regret it, and you probably won’t have another chance.

Hold your chair loosely. I have watched the evolution of proper sideline seating progress from woven nylon patio chairs to folding versions with canopies, cup holders and footrests. The main thing to remember is to be in yours when he’s up to bat, and mark them, preferably with something permanent.

Nod, but know better. The likelihood of your little slugger making it to the pros isn’t too high, so keep things in perspective. I can vividly remember standing on the sidelines while a fellow team mom informed me that her shortstop would someday play for the Atlanta Braves. I am sorry to say her dream did not come true.

Buy the team photo already. Each of my ballplaying kids can look at old team photos and see the faces of friends who have since died in accidents and coaches who died from illnesses. They’re a sobering reminder that life is a vapor, and about way more than baseball. Keep that in mind, Little League mamas, as you treat those grass-stained uniforms and load up those coolers (again). Know that this season of ball, as well as this season of your life, will be over before you know it. Batter up.

Kim Henderson is a freelance writer. Contact her at kimhenderson319@gmail.com.