A Child’s Courage
It was Saturday morning and my mind remained paralyzed while trying to think about a thesis for my writing assignment. In desperate attempts, I even asked God to deliver me an essay and in return, I promised to attend church the next day. After waiting several minutes, no essay appeared from the heavens above. I concluded that God must have been busy, if there was a paper to be written it was up to me.
As I was starting to scratch out some words on to my paper, the door to my room burst open and my nine year-old son excitedly asked me to take him the playground. I quickly replied that I might take him later, but I was busy working on homework. I heard him mutter under his breath that a nice mom would take him to the playground. I snapped back at him, “Shush go play. I am the nicest mom in the world. Someday you’ll realize that.”
After several minutes had passed and still not much progress, I decided that maybe it was a good time to take a break and go to the playground. In leaving my room, my son and his friend met me. Their facial expressions told me what they were about to ask for the hundredth time. Before finishing my reply the children were out the door and on their way towards the playground.
When I stepped outside the sunshine immediately penetrated my skin and swam through my veins like dolphins at play. It was a feeling that I had longed for all year. My senses became alive as I inhaled the fresh spring air. The smell of sweet hyacinths, fresh grasses, and coal barbecues filtered throughout the neighborhood. Chirping sounds of baby birds, beckoning for their mothers to return to the nest and bee’s buzzing by brightly colored tulips were everywhere. I felt as though I had been in a coma all year and I was just awakening.
My journey towards the playground unveiled many pleasures. Butterflies danced delightfully through the warm breeze, the neighborhood children laughed and played as though they were birds that had just been set free from their cages.
We arrived at the playground, much to my surprise there were only three other people there. Quickly I noticed a boy and his father playing baseball and another child riding his bike around the track. The boy playing baseball was about the same size as my nine year-old son. His dark blonde hair was stuck to the sides of his helmet as drops of sweat ran down his forehead. He was standing in the baseball diamond in full gear with a bat, appearing eager and ready for his father’s pitch. I remember thinking to myself that the boy had also succeeded in persuading his father to bring him to the playground.
My son and his friend were already situated on the monkey bars, hanging upside like little cave bats. Turning away, I began my walk around the track. Suddenly a cry from the baseball diamond stopped me dead in my tracks. The scream was like a coyote when his foot is caught in a trap. My head spun towards the sound. The boy playing baseball was lying on the ground in fetal position crying out in pain and clutching to his frail side. Assuming that a stray ball accidentally hit him, I expected to see his father run towards his son, comfort him, and apologize for his poor pitching abilities. I was not prepared for what happened next. The father yelled out in a boisterous voice, “Get your ass up and quit playing like a little girl. I’ll hit you harder next time.” The boy lay on the ground, crying and begging for his father not to strike him again with the ball. He tried so hard to regain composure and gather the courage to stand up, but failed to do so in a timely manner. His father threw another the ball and blasted him in the shoulder. He then told his son that if he did not stand up quicker and hit the ball farther, he was going to break his arm.
My heart immediately felt as though it had been pushed up into my throat and I was suffocating. Breathless, I turned toward my son and his friend, their eyes were filled with horror. The slight breeze that blew by tickled the tiny hairs on the back of my neck. The boy’s father evidently was not aware that I was blessed with enough maternal instinct for twenty children. Before giving any thought to my words, I asked the father what was wrong with him and told him that baseball was just a game. Part of me asked myself why I had to open my mouth, but the other part was ready for battle. The boy’s father told me to mind my own business. I told him how ridiculous he was acting.
My eyes, affixed on the father, glared at him like a mountain lion stalking prey. I walked around the track, paying attention to every word and move that they were making. The father’s license plate number became tattooed into memory. I was prepared to call the police at any moment.
For about two minutes, which seemed like two hours, the boy’s father continued hollering obscenities and intentionally threw two more balls that hit his legs and chest. Each time the boy found courage to stand up and try even harder. He realized this was the only way to satisfy his father. His cries were silenced. His tears dried to his dirt stained face. Just as I was about to leave and call the police, I heard the father ask his son if he was mad at him. The boy responded angrily, “Yes!” His father said, “Good hit the ball towards my face.” The baseball’s
flew over the father’s head deep into the outfield. Within an instant I realized what was happening. In his sick and demented way, the father was intentionally hurting his son in an attempt to anger him. His son became angry and then hit the ball farther into the field. When the father saw results, he became less abusive and more supportive.
After several homeruns, the boy and his father packed up the baseball gear and started toward their car. The father patted the boy on the shoulder then looked at me. Unsure if this was a caring gesture or if it was just for my benefit, I continued to glare as they left the playground. As they drove away, I couldn’t help but wonder if the boy would always be able to find the courage to calm his father in times of trouble.