I don't know quite when it started, but at some point, Connor started looking over at me when he got to first base. So far this season it has been on a hit once along with a pile of walks. When he's taking his bag, he looks for me in the stands if his team is away or where I like to stand with my camera on the first base side, and then gives this wonderful smile and a thumbs up to me. I smile back at him with my own thumbs up and nod, with the key to my move being as subtle as possible. I want Connor to know I saw what he did, but I also want him to know it wasn't a surprise to me (even if it was!).
I think I didn't really appreciate this was going on until Connor's team was playing a team composed mostly of other boys from his school. It's a big night for all of the boys, and I went over to say hello to several of the parents with boys on the other team. Of course, as Connor zipped down the first base line after a walk, he looked for me and did this signature move. I responded. And at that moment, another mom looked over at me and said "you are so lucky - how do you get him to do that"? It dawned on me - I am the luckiest mom in the bleachers. (Her child is the youngest of three and he is just much more 'grown up' than Connor.)
Connor is either the youngest or close to youngest team member. And possibly that explains why he's still willing to give his mama a smile. He hasn't quite reached that point where he wants to pretend I don't exist. (Though trust me, he would die if he got hurt on the field and I followed my instincts and ran to him.*) I like to think it's also because I have exactly one cheering word I shout for him "bravo" (which I use with care), and one phrase I compliment with regularly "atta boy, that's how we run". (Nobody else in our circle uses the word "bravo", so I always figure when my kids hear it, they will know exactly who said it. And I do appreciate a good hustle on the base paths, and so far Connor has never disappointed me by not going fast when he's called to do so.) I have worked really hard at sitting calmly through games, even as parents around me are shouting. I leave it to the dads who stand by the fence and the coaches to send out their words of wisdom (there are a few who do this with absolute calm, and it's a real art form to witness).
My only regret, is that I may never have a photo of our exchanges. You see, if I had my camera up when he was ready to give the thumbs up, he might decide not to do it, because it would be clear I couldn't communicate back to him with my own gesture. I'm thinking about setting up another parent with my camera to capture the moment - but I'm afraid of destroying it if I try.
*For the record, he did get hit in the head with a pitch last year. It smacked off his helmet and into his arm. Every part of me wanted to rush onto the field, but I am aware that every part of him was simultaneously screaming at me to back off. And so I sat perched on the edge of my seat as he trotted to first, and the mom sitting next to me urged her husband (a coach!) to go check on Connor at first. She knew exactly how I felt, and she also knew her husband could get an accurate read on whether Connor was actually hurt. (He was not - thank you helmet. I do not regret spending money on that piece of equipment.) Afterwards, he expressed gratitude for my sitting tight, and tried to convince me the ball didn't actually hit his helmet, which made me worry more!