I recently signed my twins up for their second season of baseball. They have March birthdays. This resulted in them just missing the cutoff for another year of T-ball. They had to play in "Mini-Minors" which effectively put my kindergarteners, who were preemies, in the same league with second graders who were easily twice their weight.
The season started when there was still snow on the ground. They played with real gloves under their baseball gloves. They played on Mothers Day, and their coach gave them roses to give to us (another reward for mediocrity? Do all mothers deserve flowers on Mothers Day? Or should we only reward the ones whose children make it to the NFL, or become President of the PTO, or get into Harvard? Is the final product more important than the effort?). Our baseball season ends in late June. Those last couple of games were played in 90 degree heat with sunscreen dripping in their eyes and the kids each respectively begging for their favourite flavour of Gatorade.
Antonio is teeny-tiny, weighing barely 40 pounds at his sixth birthday. He was by far the smallest kid on the team. What he lacks in size he make up for in enthusiasm. He was often the first kid in the field to make it to the ball. Hitting posed a bit more of a challenge for him, but by the end of the season, he got a few good hits in. Maybe he could have qualified for Most Improved or Player Who Gives His All, but probably he wouldn't be the one and only kid deserving of the title of MVP.
Mariella on the other hand was initially reluctant to play. She would have been just as content to sit in the stands and be a spectator. We talked her into playing. Nevertheless, as she played, the smile never left her face. While she started off as one of 2 girls, the other girl on the team didn't finish out the season. Mariella played through the whole season as the only girl on the team, and one of only a handful in the league. She has a hearing impairment, which makes coaching her from afar difficult. On occasion, the coach had to send someone out to right field, where she was picking dandelions, to inform her the inning had ended. She would then go up to bat. She was afraid of the ball, and would close her eyes. This resulted in her swinging a full 5 seconds after the pitch landed in the catcher's mitt. She was adorable, but would admitably never get an MVP trophy, even if she was primed to shatter glass ceilings.
Thankfully our league rewards simple participation and gave both twins simple, stupid, participation trophies. And they loved them. I wouldn't dare to take them away, even if they do only reward mediocrity.