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The Leavenworth Times - Leavenworth, KS
  • Kent Bush: Baseball adds to language barrier

  • Try to explain baseball to a kid who only understands about 75 percent of what you say.
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  • Baseball is a great game.
    But baseball isn’t a simple game. Even at the most basic level, it is more complex than most games. Basketball… take a ball and shoot it through the basket. Keep the ball from going in your basket. Football… run that way. Tackle the guy running that way. Soccer… kick a ball into a goal. Kick the ball away from your own goal. Golf… start here, hit the ball until you get in the hole down there.
    Baseball… a guy throws a ball and another guy tries to hit it if it is a good pitch. Otherwise, don’t try to hit it. When you do hit it, run over there. When the next guy hits it, go over there and so on. You don’t score points. They’re called runs.
    If you have ever tried to explain baseball to a child, you know what I mean. It isn’t long before the attentive glare becomes a hypnotic stare.
    Now try to explain baseball to a kid who only understands about 75 percent of what you say.
    That is what I’ve been doing with Dawit. He came to live with us about two years ago and he has learned so much that his brain has to hurt. He loves to play any sport. Any time he gets to run around and act crazy and not get in trouble is a good time.
    But as his coaches found out last night at his first ever tee ball practice, Dawit doesn’t understand baseball.
    He tends to wear his glove on the wrong hand. (That can’t be a big surprise if you understand his propensity to wear all of his clothes backward, including wearing his shoes on the wrong feet.) Catching the ball isn’t instinctual yet. (Also, not hard to believe since he spends half of the time with the glove on the wrong hand). And he just might swing his bat before you are out of the way.
    But he will probably do well once he figures a few things out. Dawit doesn’t do anything half-way. He is kind of a pedal-to-the-metal kind of kid.
    If you give him a bat and tell him to hit the ball, he isn’t going to try to touch the ball. He is going to swing hard. The good news is that he usually hits it.
    I just love watching Dawit try to figure out what he is supposed to do. Our older son, Blake, has always been a verbal kid. You talk to him. You explain situations and circumstances to him and he learns.
    Page 2 of 2 - Dawit is a hands-on learner. He never had the luxury of language. He was a toddler when he was relinquished to an orphanage. He left that orphanage and went to a foster home with 25 other kids who all spoke a different language.
    Then he came to our English speaking home. If he waited for language to understand things, he would still be waiting.
    He understands movement and gestures and he learns very well from watching.
    Dawit won’t do a lot to help his team win games. But he is going to run, laugh and play as hard as he can. He always does.
    He has been through a lot but nothing slows him down.
    Dawit has taught us as much as we have taught him since he joined the family. I have no idea what will happen during his first game, but I know it won’t be boring.
     
     
    Kent Bush is the publisher of the Augusta Gazette, the El Dorado Times, and the Andover American newspapers. He can be contacted at: kbush@augustagazette.com

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