Yesterday I took one of the kids from our team home after the game. It was an interesting ride. This kid has found an interesting place in my heart. I feel pretty safe in saying he is the only kid playing Dixie baseball who has a tattoo. I won't mention his name, but it is on his wrist forever if you're curious.
I think there may be a few reasons why this guy intrigues me. First, he's bigger than me (not saying much except he's only 12) but quiet and seemingly gentle. He is mildly disabled mentally, something I came to understand more later. As such, he was upset during one game when he mentioned to me that one of the coaches on the other team had laughed at him. That is inappropriate in any case, but especially when the coach was someone I knew. I was sad and disappointed.
As we drove along yesterday, I tried several times to engage him in coversation but each effort was met with a quiet but polite, "Uh-huh." He had managed to get a great hit (any contact from this giant would send it into the outfield) and drove in three runs. I told him how proud I was of him and asked if he was proud of himself.
"Uh-huh," he said and a slight grin appeared at the corner of his mouth.
"You should be," I told him.
"Uh-huh," he said again.
As we continued to his house I asked if he could change shirts when he got home so I could go get a number put on his. You see, the shirt he got was way too small and I had given him my coach's shirt. He agreed with another shy "Uh-huh."
I was a little surprised by my emotions when we pulled up to his house. It is in the shadow of where we go to church. It is a two bedroom home to an estimated 7 or 8 people. His mother greeted me very warmly with the unmistakable appearance and sweetness of someone even more mentally disabled than her son. Her older son, who also appeared, was also clearly mentally disabled. A man who seemed to be the father figure also came out and greeted me thanking me for bringing their son home. I told them of his heroics in the game and the mom began a funny conversation regarding food that left me puzzled but also offered an opening to invite them to a neighborhood picnic Highland was having that afternoon. They seemed excited, but I don't know if they were able to go. I told them I would be glad to take their son to church with us some time if they were interested and the dad (very much in control) said he'd think about it.
The emotions I mentioned were quite a mixture. I was sad and angry all over again about this young man having been ridiculed. I was also encouraged by what baseball had been to this young man on Saturday. I was disappointed to see someone living in such rough conditions in the shadow of our church but hopeful for what might come out of our relationship.
So, why did I ramble on about all this? I don't really know. But at the very least, I hope this is a situation you might add to your prayer list. I fear there are some pretty bad elements at play here that I should not discuss, but at least we might all be able to pray for the situation in general. I will.