I don’t like cricket. I love it.
Admittedly, it’s only tolerable when my son is in action on the field. Otherwise, it has to be the most boring game on the planet. Shhhh…don’t tell Chad I said that.
Chad began playing cricket when he started school. I will never forget taking him to his first private coaching lesson. The coach held up the cricket bat – which was almost bigger than him at the time – a few centimeters from his face. The coach towered above us, as he sternly instructed Chad that his cricket bat would become his best friend (read as inseparable) from that day on. Sheesh I wasn’t sure who or what to be more scared of – the coach or the bat?
My maternal instinct was screaming at me to jump up and push myself between them. Hey teacher coach, leave my kid alone!
I bit my tongue. I sat dead still. Uhhh as if I had a choice!
Chad was wide-eyed. So was I. Hit for a six!
A part of me has regrets. I should know better. Of course, the kid is going to take it literally. Oh my God, that bat and ball drive me insane some days.
The ball is constantly being thrown up into the air and caught. It is passed from hand to hand. Sometimes, it is dropped. Occasionally, something breaks. Chaaaad leave that ball alone. No. Not in the house!
The bat is attached to his hip hand. He sleeps with it (often in my bed), eats with it and even takes it to the bathroom. Hmmm isn’t there something in the rules about boundaries?
This kid sure has passion. More passion than I have ever seen. It bowls me over. And I’m not sure if it’s good or bad? But, this kid is mine and I am so damn proud of him.
If I could count the hours I have spent alongside various cricket fields over the past few years it will almost add up to more hours than you can imagine. But, for that I am grateful. And, I wouldn’t swap it for anything in the world.
Last week I had the privilege of sitting in the warm winter sun watching Chad play cricket against the backdrop of a breathtaking view of the surrounding mountains. If the sheer beauty of the environment was not enough to warm the spirit then the sight of a lone monkey darting across the far side of the field or a couple of squirrels scrambling up the tree sure was heartwarming. Aaah Africa. She is beautiful.
Although it was good to be out – watching Chad and socializing with all the other parents – the days were long. The game is slow. I’m acutely aware of the constant threat of developing a pressure sore from sitting in the same position for too long. I look on in envy as the other moms and dads munch on snacks and have some drinks as I politely decline any offers. I’m mindful of the fact that I cannot drink too much for fear of not being able empty my bladder. And I’m scared to eat, for fear of getting thirsty. Besides, I still find it embarrassing to be fed in public. Oh God, why can’t I just be normal like everybody else?
I watch Chad interacting with his teammates. I have known most of them since they were little. They are all so comfortable with me. They don’t know me any different. I doubt whether they even notice my wheelchair anymore. To them, I am just one of the moms. That’s the beauty of the innocence of a child – they are just so accepting and tolerant of differences. I’ve learned so many life lessons from these boys despite the fact that they are only 12 or 13 years old.
Every time I feel self-conscious or uncomfortable because people are staring at me, I think of these boys and their courage as they walk out onto that field in front of everybody – visible, vulnerable and sometimes publicly humiliated by a mistake like dropping an easy catch or being out for a duck – again and again. These boys have taught me how to be tough-minded by their amazing ability to quickly overcome disappointment after playing a bad shot by being focused – and ready – a few seconds later – for the very next ball. These boys have shown me how to overcome fears of mental and physical pain (that ball is damned hard and it hurts like hell) by their remarkable ability to regain composure and play on.
Sheesh, if they can do it, so can I. Um I know I cannot walk out onto the field. But, I can lift my head, stick out my chest (hey, at least I have boobs) and face the staring eyes. If they can carry on with life after being hurt, then so can I. Thank God I am paralyzed from the neck down and cannot run onto the field to scoop up my child – and kiss him better – every time that damned-little-hard-red-ball hits him. I feel your pain my boy. I am so proud of you.
I also love, and appreciate, the life lessons the game of cricket has the potential to teach my son. The fact that he has to wear protective gear (helmet, gloves, box and pads) will hopefully teach him to live responsibly and sensibly. Running between the wickets will encourage him to take some risks in life, be adventurous and use his talents to grab every opportunity that comes his way – teaching him that the ones and twos are just as important as the boundaries because a little progress each day all adds up in creating the bigger picture of life. But, he cannot do it alone. It takes a team – with support (coach, parents, family and friends). And more importantly, life is about building partnerships just as it is for the batting pair in cricket.
In cricket Chad is taught to stay at the crease, to focus on line and length and to play with a straight bat in order to get a good shot. In life one needs to have patience, consistency and to do things honorably as there will be ample opportunities at the right time to achieve success. Cricket can teach him about the importance of rules, boundaries and authority. Just remember, at home, I am the umpire!
Hopefully, cricket will teach Chad to beware of making the wrong decisions, which can be detrimental to his life, and game.
Out of all the little boys on this planet, God gave me the most special one. Chad Ross Todd (13) I love you – more than words can say.