Archive for the ‘Active Child’ Category

There are some people who are fanatical about baseball.  My husband, Tom, is one of them.  He LOVES the Seattle Mariners, watches MLB on his iPad and every year plays in fantasy baseball leagues.  He also makes a note as to when pitchers and catchers starts so he can prepare for his fantasy leagues, and he does some kind of stat thing in an excel spreadsheet also in preparation.  I, on the other hand, am a fan, but it hasn’t necessarily been my thing.  When the Giants are exciting, I’m in, especially when they won their recent World Series championships.  Call me fair weather, works for me.  That’s all about to change.

Two weekends ago, was the opening day of Toluca Baseball where our son, The Littlest E, is doing the 4-year old clinic.  It’s serious business, little league.  The park was crowded.  There was food, and vendors selling baseball supplies.  There was hitting practice and boys and girls in their uniforms everywhere with their parents.  Somewhere in the distance was a photographer commemorating the occasion for each child.



We previously bought our energetic son baseball pants, socks, a glove, and cleats.  When we arrived at the field, he received his hat and shirt – number 22.  I kind of wanted number 42, for Jackie Robinson, but 22 is a nice number.  The Littlest E looked so cute in his uniform and was thrilled to be wearing it.  I think it was his goal to get his white pants as dirty as possible, even though he wasn’t doing much baseball that day anyway.  It didn’t matter though, that’s what the uniform is for.

We were wandering around and happened upon a smaller baseball field.  The Littlest E walked out and noticed some older boys hanging out.  He walked up to them.  Without even thinking about it, another boy maybe 7 or 8 years old started throwing the ball to our eager son, and thus began a game of catch.  Watching this brief encounter between my son and this other boy, I got it.  That little ball is a unifier, bringing strangers together, sharing in a common activity.  The older boy, who was now with a friend, was welcoming the newest and youngest member into the baseball community.  They helped my son when he didn’t catch the ball and gave him tips to improve his throw.  As I watched, tears welled into my eyes, which surprised me.  It dawned on me that in cities across the nation, little leagues like this one are starting.  I get it now why people love the game – community, tradition, sportsmanship, camaraderie, mentoring, athleticism, competition, patriotism, and joy.

Taking It All In

Taking It All In

Later on, all the teams with older kids marched onto the main field with their coaches as the opening day ceremony began.  A massive group of teams formed in the outfield arching around the bases.  Part of the ceremony included welcoming the 4 year olds into the season by having them run the bases.  Again, this was a sight to behold, as the little ones all walked up to the plate, must have been over 40 of them.  Then the announcer signaled the kids to run their bases and with that these 40 rarin’ to go youngsters took off running, en mass.  As the doting mom I am, I filmed the entire thing.  While the youngsters were running, the older kids and parents and coaches cheered them on.  It was a fine and glorious welcome!  The kids were only supposed to go around once to keep with the schedule of the opening day ceremonies, however, the newbies had other ideas and ran around again!

The Teams

The Teams

Once off the field, Tom and I congratulated our son who beamed, eyes sparkling with excitement.  It was a great afternoon, one I’ll cherish forever, whether The Littlest E pursues baseball or not.  The day symbolized him leaving toddlerdom behind and truly becoming a little boy.  Can’t wait to see how practices unfold and see if our little guy enjoys the game.  I know I’ll enjoy watching him and the other 4 year olds.  Little league baseball is definitely in full swing in Los Angeles.

© 2014 Melanie Elliott

Images: Melanie Elliott


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My son, The Littlest E, and I recently spent part of a rainy day at an indoor play space to get out of the house and do something different.  I have to admit when I first heard about indoor play spaces for young children, I was a bit biased against the idea.  I have no logical explanation as to why, except possible snobbery with anything trendy (Twilight and Harry Potter being my exceptions).

Over the summer we went to our first indoor play space on a playdate with some friends.  This particular day was unreasonably hot in the San Fernando Valley so going to a park or the zoo was out of the question.  When my friends suggested Peekaboo Playland in Eagle Rock, I was like “do I really want to drive the 14+ miles to go?”  My second thought, “Mel, this isn’t about you, The Littlest E may have fun and that’s what matters.”

I was incredibly wrong in my narrow-mindedness.  This play space was kind of like stepping into Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory only without the candy, chocolate and Oompa Loompas, perhaps not as magical or as vast, but still imaginative, creative, explorative with so many things for the toddlers to do!  There was an area for the adults to sit where food was allowed and we could watch our kids play.  It had a kitchen room where kids could pretend shop, cook and wash dishes.  There was a reading room for kids to snuggle up to a book and read with or without their parents.  A bouncy house was positioned in one corner and there were several slides and places to climb.  Trains, cars (miniature and the kind children sit in), and lots of other toys for the little ones were everywhere.  Plus, if you had a wee little one, there was an upstairs especially for babies and their parents where toddlers weren’t allowed. Everything was in a confined space so you couldn’t lose your child.  It was the perfect set up!

Most play spaces have similar environments, but use different slides, swings and sandboxes.  Some provide areas for puzzles and smaller toys, rooms set aside for coloring and drawing, and tubs full of little, colored balls, a child’s flotation tank!  The décor is usually bright and lively, inviting for all.  Some places, like ROMP in Hollywood, feature a retail boutique and an outdoor area, and Giggles N’ Hugs in Los Angeles has a restaurant and offers a discount on the entrance fee if you eat there.  And, each space provides a bathroom and/or changing room.

Indoor play spaces serve many purposes, socializing, learning, places for energetic children to “go to town.”  That summer day it was great to visit with friends and eat lunch, all while our children played.  Our kids would come up and sit with us, gobble up some food, then get back to the busyness of whatever they were doing.  We’d socialize and so would our children.  Initially, The Littlest E was too afraid to stay in a bouncy house for longer than 30 seconds.  Now, after going to several play spaces, it’s difficult to get him to leave one.  He was also scared of the pools of colored balls, and now finds them a blast.  He watched other children do these things and learned it wasn’t scary.  My son loves going to these places because there is always so much to do, so much fun to have and he can just go, go, go.

I’ve also had chance encounters with people, you know, those little moments you remember.  One time I was watching The Littlest E in a bouncy house and there was another woman standing beside me watching her daughter.  She asked me if my son was adopted?  I replied, “Yes.”  She went on to tell me she brought her daughter home from China 7 months earlier.  At that time, our son had been with us not quite a year.  I mentioned that to her and also that The Littlest E was from Ethiopia.  I said, “It’s wonderful isn’t it.”  “Yes,” she replied.  It was a brief exchange, but one that mattered.

Odds are if you live in a metropolitan area, there’s probably an indoor play space somewhere nearby.  Maybe you’re ahead of the game and not a slow poke like me, and have already been to them.  If you’re curious, do a search on the Internet and see what you come up with, then check them out.  Some are better than others, but most of them are little gems of fun.

Image: Walking Geek

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