The Same But Different
Jack had always loved playing baseball. He could remember playing with his dad almost as far back as his memory stretched. He loved the way that his dad told him how brilliant he was when he scored a run and how proud he felt of himself. When his brother, Jamie, was born when Jack was only four, their dad said that they were slowly building a team, any dad would be proud of. Of course, their mom never joined in. She was usually busy around the house doing chores. But she always had something yummy waiting for them when they all went in, too tired to play any longer.
When Jack was 9, his parents told him that they were going to get a new member in their team, and Jack could hardly wait to meet his new brother so that he could teach him to play baseball just the way he’d taught his little brother, Jamie. The brothers were never happier than when they played in the back yard, especially when they were joined by their dad. Sometimes, they even invited friends to join them. There were lots of boys in the street to make up two good teams, and they would set up a game on the playing field at the back of their house. They hated it when it began to get dark, and they were called in by mom for dinner. Summer was the best time because the days lasted longer, and that meant extra time to play.
No-one noticed the little blond girl who had taken to sitting on her garden fence watching them. Not until she approached them and asked them to join in with their game.
“You?!” one of the boys said, unable to believe what he was hearing. “Girls don’t play baseball. It’s a boys’ game.”
“But I think that I could. I’ve been watching you, and I’m sure I would be just as good as some of you, if not better.”
“Yeah sure,” said the same boy, whose name was George. “As if! Why don’t you go play with your dolls, little girl?”
It was Jack’s dad, who had just walked up to the group, who spoke next. “Why not let her have a go? She might just be an asset to the team.”
“Well, okay,” George agreed reluctantly. “But she’s not on my team.”
Because Jack was playing on the other team to George, Miranda ended up playing with Jack’s team. Jack had thought that she wouldn’t last for long. He had noticed that she was pretty and seemed to be up for having a go, but he was as certain as George that she would soon get tired and want to give up. He soon had to eat his words, though, as Miranda went into bat and scored three runs on the trot. The boys began to pull faces at each other behind Miranda’s back, showing how surprised they all were that a girl would be so good at a boys’ game.
“She’s pretty good, huh?” said Jack’s dad, and Jack sheepishly nodded his head, having to admit that his first thoughts about Miranda’s abilities had been wrong.
Jack’s team went on to win that day and exhausted, but happy they all congratulated Miranda on her excellent play.
“Can I join in again tomorrow?” she asked expectantly. She seemed to be addressing Jack, as captain of her team.
“I guess so,” Jack answered with a small shrug of his shoulders, not daring to look at the others in case they were mad at him agreeing. “See ya!” he called over his shoulder as he led the way home in front of Jamie and his dad.
“See ya!” chorused the others, beginning to drift off themselves.
Dinner was pasta, Jack’s favorite, and it should have put him in a good mood, but something was niggling away at him, and he wasn’t sure what it was.
“You’re quiet this evening Jack,” said his mom. “Is your pasta okay?”
“Oh yeah, it’s great. But, well, I was just thinking…….” He hesitated, unsure of how to put into words how he was feeling.
Everyone looked at him, waiting for him to go on, and he became aware of three pairs of eyes on him, which made him blush for some reason.
“Well? What?” said his dad. “We’re not mind readers, Jack. Although I think that I could have a good guess. Is it about Miranda?”
Jack nodded, not raising his eyes, and he took a gulp of his juice to give himself time to think. “It’s just, well, I didn’t think that girls played baseball. But Miranda was good, wasn’t she? But why did she want to play a boys’ game?”
He sneaked a quick glance at his dad, and then his mom and they were both still looking at him, his mom with a little smile on her face.
“What makes you think it’s a boys’ game, Jack?” asked his dad.
“Because, erm…..,” he trailed off. Jack had to admit to himself that he didn’t know why he thought that. “Just because it’s always boys who play.”
“Did you think that girls couldn’t play?” asked his mom.
“I didn’t really think about it. But now I know that they can, so I have to change the way I think.”
“You’re not the only one to think that way, Jack. Quite a lot of people still don’t admit that girls can do everything that a boy can, and they even think that they’re not as good. But I’m sure that you wouldn’t think such a thing, would you, Jack?” said his mom.
“No. No, I wouldn’t. But maybe I did. Until today,” he admitted honestly.
“Well, I’m proud that you’ve learned such an important lesson so early in your life because many people never learn it. Girls are every bit as special as boys, and soon you’ll be able to show your new sister that you think so too.” His mom patted her stomach and smiled at Jack.
“I hope that she can play baseball,” said Jack and then gave his full attention to the pasta on his plate.