The Playroom: Parents on deck

Author: Maraya Steadman '89, '90MBA

Maraya Steadman

I have spent hours today on college savings accounts. I messed up the automatic deductions so they were coming from this account and they are supposed to be out of that account. With my oldest, somehow I messed up the portfolio allocations, and not in a good way, and then I couldn’t figure out my password to the online banking because I didn’t realize it was case-sensitive and it took me forever to figure that out. I am so bored.

As I was sitting here bored out of my mind working on college savings accounts, I realized this is what it’s all about. Everything I do as a parent from the moment they get up in the morning until I tuck them into bed after stories at night, it’s about this moment when my children are 18 and they leave and go to college and go off to their own grown-up life.

I teach them to brush their teeth and comb their hair, pick up dirty clothes and put away clean ones and to take a shower after hockey practice because they smell, and not in a good way. I teach fourth-grade math, prepositional phrases and how to spell “again,” again and again and again.

I teach them, I hope, kindness and compassion toward each other and to humanity, how to give back and how to say thank you for gifts that are given. But sometimes I get defeated, because I’m not sure they’re listening.

At T-Ball last night one of the boys went up to the tee to bat. He’s my son’s best friend, and I knew my husband and the boy’s father had been taking the boys out in the park after dinner, teaching them how to hit. While my son’s friend was approaching the tee his father kept telling him he was using the wrong bat, the wrong bat.

I’m a new T-Ball mom. All I know about T-Ball is what I’ve learned this season. I never drop off my son without his glove, which is actually called a mitt, and has nothing to do with a batting glove, which he doesn’t need and I don’t bring. If you can’t find your kid when you thought he was playing right field, don’t freak out, he’s probably in the porta-potty, which is also in right field. And most important, you better not forget to bring the snacks if you are the snack mom. I know nothing about bats.

But what struck me about the bat selection is that when the boy didn’t choose the right bat, his father was really upset. He walked over to the boy’s mother with his head down and said,

“I keep telling him and telling him which bat to use, but he still uses the wrong bat!”

It wasn’t my place to respond, so I just stared at my feet, but I knew why he felt the way he did. We teach them and try to prepare them for what’s ahead, but mostly it doesn’t seem like they ever listen.

But somewhere deep inside the disappointment, I do believe that some day my son’s best friend will walk up to bat, and he’ll remember the nights in the park after dinner, and he’ll remember what his dad taught him. Playing ball with his college friends, he’ll pick up the right bat and hit it way out over left field, again and again and again.

Maraya Steadman, who lives in a Chicago suburb, is a stay-at-home mother of three children. She can be reached at