Saturday, May 15, 2010

Working Outside Our Skill Set

There are times that skill sets become critically important.  Example - You want your teeth filled by a licensed dentist, not a potter.  A geometry teacher that understands everything mathematical about planes should not be flying one.   And I think it is important to teach our kids that when presented with a job outside of their skill set, there are times it’s okay to say  “No thank you.”  My son informed me that he would be announcing games at the local ball park.  There is a big difference in singing into a microphone and calling out baseball plays in front of emotionally charged parents in team colors.  I checked in on him after his first game and the look on his face was one of shock.  My child was sinking and going down fast.   You have to understand, we are not a baseball family.  His knowledge of baseball comes from attending Braves games and holding my pretzels while I order more hot dogs and soda, not participating in Small Town America Little League.   The next scene is a scary one.....  Yes... the two of us, sitting in the box on the high stands behind the chain link fence, calling the game together.   Moms will do crazy things to help their children.  We looked on the field and there on the pitcher’s mound was his toughest teacher and his daughter was up to bat.  It was like a scene out of a bad 80’s movie.  Each time he tossed that ball up into the air it moved in super slow motion and we could feel the History grade sinking lower and lower.  We knew we couldn’t screw this one up.   He had learned in the first game that if you mess up the score on the board, the parents will come through that chain link fence at you.  It’s not there to protect you from flying balls - it’s to keep parents out of the box.    I’m filling out the play book, which I have never seen before in my life… drawing lines here and there, plotting dots, trying to figure out what the 12 columns are for.  It is impossible to keep up with which child is on what base, who is coming in, are they safe or out, what dots to plot and keep the scoreboard correct. Since we didn’t know the umpire’s hand signals and we were unclear on the difference in balls, fouls and strikes, we just turned that section of the scoreboard off and claimed bulb outage if anyone asked.    We focused on runs and trying to get names right as they came up to bat.  We had a field full of nine year old girls, all dressed alike, with ponytails that covered the numbers on the back of their shirts.  Each one of them was a Southern Beauty in a ball cap and ribbons with the same angelic face.  It was impossible to tell who was who.   Since most of their names ended phonetically with  “..aly” we discovered we could mumble those letters into the mic and be almost 99% certain that we had correctly called the right child’s name…  The parents of Bailey, Haley, Raleigh, Kaley, and Mayleigh were always pleased with our announcing.    We managed to get through the game without any parents yelling at us or throwing empty popcorn boxes at us, so while we can’t call it a successful night, we can call it a completed one.  One we survived together with a little good luck, a few math skills, and a lot of guesswork.   

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