It came as a surprise.
"Dad, I think I'm going to skip baseball season so I can work to buy a car."
Those were the words I heard from my son on the way home from basketball practice. The son, whose love for baseball started at the age of four. My first-born, who watched baseball instead of cartoons. The son I watched round the bases last spring after hitting his first home run.
And now I have to wonder, will it be his last?
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Island Packet
It's an issue most of us youth sports parents will face at some point. If it's not because of a car, it will be for some other reason; maybe for no other reason than he's tired of playing. But it might also be for something tangible, something we parents just don't understand.
He feels he'll sit on the varsity bench during games this year and that he'd rather be honing his basketball skills than standing in the outfield shagging fly balls during batting practice.
And more importantly to him, he'd rather be driving his own car to the gym instead of being dropped at the curb.
So now he must sort out the plusses and minuses of not playing baseball this year.
One plus is simple: He'll be able to work and afford his own car, and reap the benefits of having one.
But one major minus is harder to accept: If he doesn't play baseball this year, his chances are slim to none he'll be selected next year if he decides to try out for the team. That's just the reality of high school sports.
He's researching the car issue diligently. He also plans to talk to his coach and his manager at work before making his decision. This issue seems to have matured him light years more than any lecture I have ever tried to give him.
Every child at some point comes to a crossroads when sports might not be the most important thing anymore. As parents, it's up to us to listen, offer advice and guide. But we have to be careful not to judge.
Youth sports are not life and death, but they can be used to teach life lessons. In this case, it's a chance for a child to think through the circumstances of a life-altering decision, and then live with the consequences -- as he will countless times during his adult life.
It's just another life lesson taught through sports. Only this time, the consequence might mean no longer being part of them. And that's OK.
Contact Jon Buzby at JonBuzby@hotmail.com and follow him @JonBuzby on Twitter.