Last night my 11-year-old hit a baseball. It wasn’t a home run, he was out at first, but he hit the ball. It’s been a struggle for him since he left t-ball for kid pitch. He loves sports, he loves baseball, he wants so badly to be good at it, but he’s also an anxious kid, a kid afraid of getting hit by the ball. Even now that he’s not as afraid of being hit, his muscle memory still tells him that when a ball is coming towards you, you should get out of the way.
He knows more about baseball, about the rules, about strategy, about the history, than a lot of adults, but he does not know how to make himself stay in the batter’s box. There have been games that have left him in tears of frustration. Last night he hit the ball and advanced runners. I was not there.
I was watching my 13-year-old and her Girl Scout Troop welcome a group of 11-year-old girls to middle school. She and her friends planned the evening. They shared tips no adults could ever tell these girls about how to get along in middle school. “Always have an extra pencil you can loan someone, but don’t keep your pencils in a clear bag or everyone will want them.” “If you don’t want to go outside after lunch, just go to the bathroom and then go back in and sit with new kids.”
She helped plan the event, but originally didn’t have a speaking role. In her second year of taking a Speech, Drama, and Debate class, she still does not really like the speaking part. Then she discovered she was the only one who could talk about Instagram, and one of the scouts who was supposed to talk about lunch couldn’t make it, so she rose to the task and stayed in the batter’s box and hit the ball, too.
Last night, an ocean away, children were being terrorized. It is easy to imagine my own children there, at a pop concert. Maybe I would have taken them, miserable about the idea of listening to the music, giddy at the idea of watching my children enjoy themselves, knowing that this was a step, a stage of growing up that I got to observe. Or maybe one of them would have been asked by a friend and the friend’s parent to go. Maybe they would have been one of the young teens left stranded in a hotel lobby, waiting for a parent to find them, waiting for a parent to explain.
I know that other things happened last night to other children. I know children around the world, children close to home were hungry and scared. I know children struggled with fear, and baseball, and an abusive parent, and homework, and war, and entering middle school, and illness, and gossip, and terror.
As parents we hold all of these children as close to us as possible. There are times when it hurts too much to look at the children of the world. There are times when it hurts too much to look at our own.
Last night children rejoiced. Last night children were killed.