As I sit in bleachers at many a youth baseball game, I love to hear the various phrases shouted by parents and coaches as they try to encourage the players. Some phrases are "old school" that we've all heard before.
"Good eye!": when a batter lets a pitch out of the strike zone go by.
"Way to fight that off!": when a kid hits a foul ball.
As a batter gets up to the plate: "Whaddya say, #2?"
Pop fly to the outfield: "You gotta run that out, kid!" for the runner and "Can o' corn!" for the outfielder.
Some phrases are unique to certain coaches and parents. One of our parents likes to shout, "Lay off that high cheese!" when a pitch comes in too high. A certain coach likes to say "On the hop, boys!" One of my favorites is when a pitch comes in a bit too close to one of our players, and a teammate might joke, "You gotta wear that one!"
We like to poke fun at my husband's very complicated advice to his batters: "See the ball, hit the ball." Mmmmhmmm. That's it. He claims it's a simple game.
One summer many years ago, one of my sons had a coach who was new to him. How I loved to hear this coach's shout of encouragement to his players. He had a unique phrase that I had not heard before and it made me smile and now I use that phrase all the time and I have noticed it time and time again both on the baseball diamond and the basketball court.
If my son got a hit and ended up safe on the base, I'd hear this coach shout, "Hey, I see you out there on 1st, Kid!"
If he was pitching and struggling - walking a batter or two - I'd hear, "Hey, now, you're ok. I see you out there battling, 2!"
He shouted this same encouragement to every child. Maybe the player was consistently making good plays and his success had become almost routine. Coach shouted out that he saw that boy. Maybe the kid really blew it and made a big error. Coach still shouted out that he saw that kid trying. He saw him get up, dust off and try again. He let those boys know that, to an individual player, he saw the effort, the hustle, the fight. He saw each and every kid and he let them know it.
"I see you out there!"
Isn't that the greatest? Isn't that what we all want? For someone to see us out here? To notice us? If not to praise us, if not to thank us, if not to honor us, just to see us? Child, adult, mother, wife, husband, father, player on the field, player on the bench?
This week a huge number of baseball players in our area will head to baseball tryouts. Some will be trying out for Little League teams, some for youth travel teams, and some will step on to their high school fields to get a chance to play for their school's team. Each of them desperately wants to be seen. Each will do everything he can to stand out among the crowd.
In our lives, we wish for all of our coaches, spouses, parents, bosses and families to see us and to appreciate our work. But we know that all of these folks are imperfect and they don't always see us. We often feel invisible and unappreciated and forgotten. Some kids this week might not make the team. They might feel like they were invisible. But no matter whose name ends up on the roster, there is not a single player who remains unseen.
This week, don't forget to remind your child that he is not just the number pinned to his jersey. He is important and special and unique. Remind him that even when the world seems to have ignored him, God will always see. He sees us whether we are on top of our game or trying to earn our way off the bench. He sees those who gained a starting position on the team and those who didn't make the cut.
It's a lesson for parents and children alike, is it not?
When you struggle, when you can't seem to find the strike zone, when you are disappointed or lost or confused? God sees you out there. When you've been consistent, when you've worked hard and earned the raise, when you've made the play? God sees you out there. When the laundry was folded perfectly again, the budget balanced and that dinner was nutritious and hot and everything was on the table at the same time? God sees you out there. And when the laundry is piled in a stinking mess on the floor and you took the kids through that drive-thru again and you couldn't quite make ends meet? God sees you out there.
I've seen a hashtag around lately that my son has adopted on all of his social media posts.
It means "audience of 1". If your kid is trying out this week, remind him that he is seen. Whether he gets the hit or he strikes out. Tell him to keep swinging. He has an audience that never looks away.
Hey, kid, do not let your heart be troubled. He sees you out there.