Jane! Dooooon’t Strike Oouuuuut!

It has to be some of the most heart-breaking moments in parenting.

When you are unable to shield your child from the cruelties of the world.

Or the playground.


My sweet, little #2son was so sad in the back seat of the car today on the way home from school.

“What’s the matter, buddy?” I asked.

“Nuh-fin’,” he said, staring out the window.

I let it go. He always talks when he’s ready. And I guessed that he didn’t want to talk about it with his big brother around.

Changing out of his school clothes, I knocked on the bedroom door. He was sitting, forlornly, on his bed.

“Do you want to talk about it?” I asked.

“In private,” as he rose to shut the door.

It all came pouring out. How all the kids were playing “Snake” on the playground but he couldn’t always hold on because he wasn’t fast enough and everyone was getting frustrated with him because he couldn’t keep up so they asked him (nicely) not to play. He insisted on playing. He kept trying to keep up, but he couldn’t, so then they demanded (not so nicely) that he go play somewhere else, that he was ruining their game.

He was devastated.

He’s in a mixed age classroom, ages 6 – 9. And quite honestly, he’s not terribly athletic. I asked him if he could go play with his other friends. But he said, no. Everyone wanted to play with the “big kids” and they all were playing “Snake” (whatever that is) so he was left to play by himself.

“Did you talk to your teacher?”

He was alarmed that I would suggest such a thing. “No! This is something I should handle myself.”

So I told him about Mary Kay and how, as much as I loved the game of baseball, as much as I knew about the sport and my beloved Detroit Tigers, I was horrible at it. I struck out. A lot. More times than I ever connected with the ball. And Mary Kay batted after I did. Every time I’d approach home plate she’d taunt, “Jane! Don’t strike out!” To this day I can still hear her whine. How she’d drag out dooooon’t and oouuuut. And every time she’d get into my head, I would fulfill her prophecy. To her dismay. And my great embarrassment.

And then, we talked some more. But we really didn’t come up with any solutions. We talked about feelings. We talked about not always measuring up to others’ expectations. We talked about how sometimes there’s not a whole lot we can do to change how people feel or how they handle things.

He gave me a great big hug and said, “Thanks, Mom! I love you so much!”

He felt so much better.

But I didn’t. I wanted to run back to the school and give those kids a piece of my mind. I wanted to confide in the teachers and have them make those kids play with my son. I wanted to turn back time. I wanted to erase that horrible experience from his memory

But what was I hoping to accomplish? And if he didn’t learn how to deal with this disappointment what would happen when, not if, something bigger came along?


These are the moments I hate being a parent. I feel inadequate to protect. I can only arm him with as much love and support I can muster.

And that just has to be enough.



Filed under Motherhood, parenting

19 responses to “Jane! Dooooon’t Strike Oouuuuut!

  1. Can I just say, it doesn’t sound like you struck out with your son here. You were there for him. You talked it out. You helped him. He’ll figure the rest out. We can’t protect our kids from all hurts, but we can help them grow through it. Good job, momma!

  2. Its just awful when our kids feeling are hurt or they miss out. I hang on to Cole’s disappointments long after he moves on. Can you imagine having to be in the stands at the Olympics and watch your ice skater fall or speed skater trip. Cole can never be in the Olympics.
    Sounds like you handled it beautifully…Unfortunately its something we just have to let our kids go through…but we don’t have to like it!! Cole and I use to play this game—-Can I talk to the teacher (NO!) can I call the parents and tell them how really, really, awful their kids are (NO NO! ) well, then can I go to school tomorrow at recess and beat them up? by now we are both giggling…Noooo….Ok then can I make your dad beat there dad up??? and so it goes.
    Have a cold little coke!

  3. What a wonderful way to handle this situation Jane. I love how you talked him through it and used your own example. I know you wanted to confront, but my dear, the grace that you demonstrated here is something he will carry with him forever.

  4. It sounds like you did exactly what you needed to, and offered a lesson, perspective, and comfort.

    Amazing how we ache when our children are hurt. No matter what the age. And how everything lightens when they feel better.

    Home run, Jane.

  5. Good job! Hey, I never would have talked to my mom about my humiliations. You’re already one up, there.

  6. My physical education nemesis was named Liz. She was good at all the sports and always laughed at me because I could never walk on the balance beam and fell off, repeatedly. There’s a hot rock in Hell waiting for Liz.

    You did a wonderful job with your boy. You knew when to wait and when to push, and you made him feel less alone. You done good, kid.

  7. Winn’s comment perfectly sums up my own sentiments! 🙂

  8. Yup, what Winn said…the Mary Kays of this world suck…


  9. Poor baby!!! I’m glad he told you about it.

    In other news, your RSS feed has not been updating in my feed since FEBRUARY 20TH so I’m woefully behind. I was just thinking about you and went to your blog to send you a “where are you?” email…and surprise, you are here it’s just my stupid feed!! So…sorry I’ve been missing you!!

  10. How beautiful! Think of how much stronger and balanced he’ll be since he knows that he’s held together by such an awesome mom! I’m guessing he won’t feel so alone even when all the kids leave him by himself to play on the playground. Good stuff!
    And, by the way, thanks a lot for that last post! I just had to go have one of those cake pops (rocky road) and now only Girl Scout cookies will diminish the thought of them from my mind. 🙂

  11. Love and support is exactly what we need to arm our with to face the world. Keep the mamma bear in check and he’ll discover that he is stronger than he thinks.

  12. I think you handled the situation perfectly. Unfortunately kids do need to fight their own battles.

  13. OMG, aren’t these experiences heartbreaking? I think they are so much worse going through them with our kids than we did it initially. I think you handled the situation perfectly, obviously you made him feel better, even if you didn’t. Those darn playground shenanigans!!

  14. I know the feeling. Yours. . . and little son’s, too, for that matter.

  15. Oh, man. This is the stuff that keeps me up at night. How I wish I could taker every bullet fired at my boys. Yet, I know I can’t. Parenting is so damn hard.

  16. What you did IS enough…it was perfect. A lot of parents wouldn’t have even pursued the conversation. And he loves you. Can’t do better than that.

  17. Love and support is what it’s about.

    (Hmmmm…have you been cured of your OCD? I’ve noticed that the lines in your calendar are not lining up…)

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