Thursday, March 15, 2012
The Daisy Picker
A Parenting Fail. Or. A Public Service Announcement. However you like to take it.
Middlest was a fairly quiet child. Even before she could read you could often find her with a book. Once she could read you could always find her with her nose buried in a book. And I do mean literally buried in a book. A head with hair and ears and a book jacket for features. Literally inches from the book. But she also was pretty active. She wasn't the most graceful child on land but she loved swimming particularly. And when she showed interest we signed her up for T-Ball. She was pretty good at it too...because, honestly...who isn't good at T-Ball? But she always hit the ball.
When she was six she moved up to softball. She enjoyed herself. After all, for part of the game you get to sit on a bench and then there was snack afterward. But truly. She did enjoy it when it was her turn to hit. Until the girls were old enough for junior league they used a pitching machine. At first, just like the other girls, Mid had a little trouble adjusting. Keep your eye on the ball, the coach would shout. The pitches came in true and unvaried most of the time and before long Middlest was very consistent in her batting. "Keep your eye on the ball, they said. And she did. Then she would run. Looking down at her feet she would follow the clay trail from base to base. stopping at each one and looking up to listen and see if she was being cheered on to continue. Was the baseman holding a ball? No? She industriously lowered her head and chugged on. "Keep you eye on the ball," her dad, a base coach, advised. You need to pay attention so you know where it is while you're running bases. She nodded. On the next run glancing about the field as she approached each base and then stopping and listening before going on. "Keep your eye on the ball!", we called from the stands. Then it was time for the fielding. In practice the coaches tried different variations and before long Middlest was neatly parked... in the outfield. At the beginning she would stand staunchly, with her hands resting on her knees, her cap set firmly, her glove at the ready. After a few minutes passed she would be looking at the ground. She would be stooping and picking at grass, neatly disassembling little white clover flowers.. She would be staring, squinting hard at the sky. Keep your eye on the ball! we all would shout, the ball floating neatly over her shoulder while she peered in our direction. What? Me? The ball! The ball! her team would echo. As she whirled around, searching in every direction, the ball would be rolling toward the fence, usually with the 2cd baseman in pursuit. As they came up to the dugout, the coach would tell her, Middy, you need to pay attention, ok? Middlest would nod happily, was it time for Rice Krispie Treats yet? Her team mates would get frustrated with her and join in the calls, Mid, Look! Get the ball! But she was a nice girl and these were nice girls too. They didn't harass her. The entire team just learned to work around her. With one exception. Somewhere along the way they realized she made a great catcher. No fear of the bat or ball coming toward her at all. And she loved that she didn't have to run after the ball. It was always coming straight for her. So Yes. Its true. In ther field my child was...A Daisy Picker. A sure thing at bat but the rest of the time appeared to forget she was in the middle of the game. You need to pay attention, we would advise. Your team counts on you. "I hate the field she said. It's too hard. I can't keep up with what's going on. "Keep your eye on the ball", we said. For three years.
In School Middlest was a very good student. She breezed through first and second grade. She never seemed to have trouble. Well, except the teachers complaints that she always had her nose in a book. Often when she should have been watching the board she would be caught deep in the adventures Of Redwall. But, her teachers loved her reading and usually would patiently come to her desk and go over the assignment if necessary. Until 3rd Grade. About halfway through the year her very experienced veteran teacher approached me. Have you had Middlest's eyes checked recently? She did the school eye exam, I told her. She passed it. Well, she said, I think maybe you should take her for a real eye exam. I don't think she can see the board. Really? Wow! She never said anything about it. Her grades were always good. As we walked to the car I asked her, Mid, can you see the board ok? Yes, she replied. I can see it fine. Hmm. You need to pay better attention in class. Ms. Teacher thinks you can't see. I'm paying attention, she replied. Well. Just to be safe. I made the appointment.
And. My eight year old child was severely myopic. Near sighted. She could barely see past the length of her arm. She had probably been like that her whole life. We had missed the very subtle clues. She couldn't tell us because she had no idea that the world around her wasn't a muddled mess of fuzzy colors. I'll never forget the look on her face the day she reached out for her first shiny, purple wire frames and set them over her nose and ears and looked around the optometrists office. The word here is WONDER. She walked to the windows and peered out at the sun lit trees and cars going past with a smile of amazement. Like an alien just landing on the planet. In a way she was.
Want to talk about guilt? How on earth could that child be legally blind without glasses and I had no clue? I was a hyper vigilant mom. How did I miss this? Like I said, the signs were very subtle. She had managed to adjust to her surrounding so well over the years that she was functional on a high level.
At school: She went to a very good preschool: She was advanced in some skills that helped her coast. Also blackboard use was limited until things became more complicated in third grade. I also believe she was so used to things appearing the way they did that she recognized them in their weird form.( Just a theory.) If she was struggling a teacher would help her personally. Up close.
Outdoors: Our street was unpaved at that time, so things like bike riding were minimal. At ball the pitching machine was very predictable. She could hear the ball leave the machine and focus in the right direction until it came within her view..at the exact moment she needed to swing.
Her personality: Oblivious to her surroundings, to this day she still zones out and doesn't know what's going on regardless of how well she sees it ; ) Her mom was used to this and didn't question whether anything else was going on.
Now the story could end with her becoming the most valuable player on her team. A ferocious fielder. A pitcher with a lethal arm and record outs. But. Over the years the other girls had progressed where she had been unable to. The truth is, Middlest is a Daisy Picker. It's her nature. She'd rather lay in the grass and watch bugs than stand in it waiting for a ball to come her way. By fifth grade she decided to play cello instead. She can still be found with her nose in a book. She has become a talented artist. Still...I do have one picture that I love. My Mid at a game. She is coming off a base, her feet in motion. One knee raised in a solid pump forward. Underneath her batting helmet her face is raised with a joyful expression. Her eyes are bright behind the lenses of her purple glasses and looking outward at the field. Watchful.
She is watching the ball.
So the moral to the story is:
Keep your eye on your kids. Or. Get their eyes checked regularly. However you like to take it : )
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