November 24, 2014

Make Discipline Fun!

A 7-year-old kid I know (his name and relation to me will be withheld to protect the not so innocent) recently tried to stretch a base hit into an inside-the-park home run in a sand-lot game. His brother tagged him out at the plate (or did he?). An argument ensued. The baserunner proceeded to pick up his bat and hit his brother with it. (Fortunately it was a nerf-type bat that didn't hurt much.) That ended the game. I heard about it later that day.

Japanese Kid with Bat

Me: I heard that you hit your brother with a bat today.

Boy: He called me out, but I was totally safe.

Me: (Thinking about punishing the kid, but deciding to see where the conversation would go) Have you ever seen Buster Posey hit an umpire with a bat when he gets called out at the plate?

Boy: No.

Me: How about Hunter Pence? He plays with so much passion, but does he hit umpires with bats?

Boy: No. The umpire would eject him.

Me: What should we do about you hitting your brother in the face with your bat.

Boy: I should probably be ejected from the game.

Me: (Confused) But the game's over. How could you be ejected?

Boy: We didn't finish the game. We're planning to finish it next weekend.

Me: OK, that makes sense. You're ejected from the game. Your team won't have you when the game is resumed next week. Do you know what a suspension is in baseball?

Boy: Yes, like A-Rod. For using drugs.

Me: That's right. Players also get suspended for arguing too much with umpires, especially if they touch the umpires.

Boy: So I should get suspended too?

Me: Yes. No using your bat for a week.

Boy: OK. Can we still play catch though?

Me: Of course.

The boy lived up to his self-imposed ejection the following week and didn't even ask to use his bat during the suspension. Too often, we discipline kids out of anger or just routine. Let's be creative. Maybe if Lou Piniella had been disciplined better as a kid we wouldn't have scenes like this.