For many years, spring break meant RV trips for our family (here’s a sample of our RV experience if you’d like a chuckle: http://www.scarymommy.com/spring-break-at-the-dump-site/). But, as the kids got older and harder to squeeze into an RV, we lately have been traipsing to Arizona for Colorado Rockies baseball spring training. As you know from prior posts, we are a baseball family with bleacher blisters (callouses now, really) to prove it.

Spring training is like little league on steroids (actually, it is just like that, but I’ll rant about that on another day and in different blog post).  It is in spring training that young and old professional ballplayers alike learn everything from how to stand at attention during the national anthem (really, we watched them do that drill), to calling for a pop fly, to the sneaky pick-off move at 2nd base. For me, though, spring training is about watching kids and their parents. And being a parent with our kids.

The magic and majesty of baseball turns kids and adults into Mickey Mantle and Willie Mays wannabes. Okay, for those of you slightly younger than this writer, baseball turns kids and adults into Derek Jeter and Albert Pujols wannabes. Watching kids ages 2 through 72 throwing baseballs to each other on grassy knolls beside major league practice fields is a YouTube viral video waiting to happen. Yes, the fans’ baseball skills are highly variable and the baseballs are often tennis balls, but that’s besides the point. The point is that toddlers, grade school kids, tweens, teens, moms, dads, and grandparents are all sharing the fantasy of being ballplayers. And, when the game starts between the hometown favorites and the arch rivals, these baseball loving families make their way to their bleacher seats where they watch their heroes with awe, envy and, often, very loud advice.

In 5 seasons of taking our kids to spring training, I don’t remember seeing an unhappy kid. Ours or anyone else’s.  I do remember many exhausted kids, and exhausted parents. I remember lines of kids and adults waiting for autographs and, after scoring a successful signature,  running to show their parents (or their kids) the illegible scrawl as if they had just found a solid gold nugget in a mountain stream. I remember kids and parents holding each other and swaying to “Take me out to the ballgame” during the 7th inning stretch. I remember kids with cotton candied cheeks and snow coned lips. I remember parents with cameras as the team mascot posed with their kids. And kids with cameras as their parents hugged the mascot. I remember dads holding daughters, moms holding sons, and all holding baseball gloves just in case that elusive foul ball found its way into the stands where they were sitting.

We just got back from spring training with our almost 20 year old college kid. He and Sara and I threw the baseball around, stood in line for autographs, held each other and swayed for “Take me out to the ballgame,” and, yes, posed for pictures with the team mascot. Really.

You’re never too old for the passions of childhood. Don’t let your kids grow up too fast, and make sure you still make the time once-in-a-while to act like a kid yourself. When you do, it’s much more fun if your kids are there to share the moment with you.

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