By: Barbara Matousek
At Lions Park Eva’s toes push at the leather ends of her pink flower Robeez and she reaches for me. Again. Uppie, uppie, uppie. The sun cuts across the ball field at a sharp angle, and Sam squats to draw pictures in the sand near home plate while the rest of the tee ball players line up and listen to Coach Megan explain how to field a ground ball. I have flashbacks to soccer last year, the way Sam would lay in the grass on one side of the field and play monster with his friend Hamilton while the other 3-year-olds kicked the ball around the other side of the field.
Last year Eva was an infant. She couldn’t walk. Or wander off. Or ask to be picked up. Or throw herself on to the ground and wail while kicking her legs. Eva weighs 27 pounds now, and my 45-year-old back complains about all the lifting and bending and carrying. I hold her for a short while before setting her down and distracting her with a water bottle. Wind whips my hair across my face and I’m glad for the breeze and the shade.
“Mommy does not like hot,” Sammy often says, and he is right. His little sister does not like hot either.
“Uppie, uppie, uppie!” Eva tugs on my pants and the high-pitched cries begin.
I take her water bottle and sit on the grass next to her and begin digging for the strawberry yogurt bites in the diaper bag. A hockey mom friend of mine once told me that the concession stand and the snack bag were her secrets to bringing all the smaller children to hockey practices. Another mom next to us on the grass hands out graham crackers, and Eva and one little girl eye each other’s snacks and do some trading.
The older kids run the bases and then form two lines, and many of the parents on the bleachers laugh when the young coaches pair up the 4-year-olds and expect them to stay focused and play catch. After a few tosses and some time fighting with the wind, Sam runs to the fence and hands me his oversized baseball cap. He doesn’t ask if he can quit or go home. He doesn’t tell me it’s too hot or too sunny or too windy or too itchy. He just runs back out on to the field without a word and continues tossing to his partner while Eva entertains herself with her empty yogurt bites bag and water bottle.
We have progress.