We’ve done this to ourselves for three years now: we have a perfectly good spring and early summer planned, and then we muck it up and make it hectic with T-ball. Every year we swear we aren’t going to do it again, and yet for three years running we’ve done it anyway. What is it with this ritual of May and June that keeps us coming back for more?

On the con side of things, T-Ball takes up your time and energy and often puts you in the company of questionable parenting skills. It’s an organized sport filled with the rituals and trappings of Americana. On the pro side though, your kids get exercise, meet and befriend new kids and develop a basic understanding of America’s favorite past time. In this spirit, I offer up my experience — and advice.

1. First bit of advice? Don't do it. There has got to be something better you can do with your time than cart children (and it will be children because even if you only have one kid in T-ball odds are they'll be some kid on the team whose parents are conveniently never available) around plus equipment.

Okay, so you aren't listening to me and you are going to be involved anyhow. Proceed.

2. Remember it is a game. Odds are no kid on the team is going to one day be in the major leagues. I wish more parents came to grips with this reality. As my student Randy Rogers, a seven year Little League veteran, told me, "This is what I told my kids when we played: First, have fun, second learn how to play the game and then if we have done the first two, we can try and win the game."

I endorse this statement wholeheartedly. As the assistant coach and resident "bat girl" for our team, I get excited when the kids remember to run to first and not third, when they are paying attention enough to quit making dust angels in the dirt and try and catch the ball instead, and remember to touch the bases. T-ball is the beginning level of baseball, and arguably the most fun.

3. Randy Rogers also told me, "Youth sports would be great if the parents would stay out of the game." Probably the most irritating part of kids' sports is not the kids but the parents. Last month we had T-ball parents who seemed to be out for blood. Don't be one of these parents. Be supportive. Clap! Cheer! But don't belittle the other team and don't yell out for your kids to do unsafe plays so their team can "win" at T-ball. T-ball isn't about winning; it's about learning and fun!

4. Remember (and this goes with number 3) that all parents have different motivations for being there. You could be my husband who wasn't allowed to go out for team sports because of the cost and frequent moving. Or you could be reliving that fifteen minutes of baseball glory of your youth. Whatever the reason, try and remember that you aren't playing — your kid is.

5. Hold your own in the volunteer department. Yeah, it's about the kids, but at the same time it's about the history of the organization or the town. You might be asked to fundraise or give time or baked goods to fundraisers. Our league has stay-at-home moms who live, eat and breathe T-ball. It sure keeps things running, but at the same time, they often forget that not everyone can be there at 2 pm in the afternoon on a Tuesday with a cake! Remind them that you want to help out but that you need them to be realistic about schedules for working parents.

6. Know your kid(s)' limitations when it comes to time. My aunt didn't put her kid in Little League because he can't sit or stand still. He was better suited for soccer, she thought, and put him there with great success. There's lots of sitting in rows and standing on fields patiently. Can Junior do that? Coaches should also be aware of when 4-7 year olds will be zapped of energy. We are currently playing 90 minute games at the behest of the majority of the coaches but the kids crash and burn at 60 minutes. That last 30 minutes, boy, whew! Not a pretty sight. At least they come home tired.

7. Is your kid in the right place? Are there other kids in the right or wrong place? It happens. You have 4- to 7-year-olds playing ball and you'll get a 4-year-old slugger and a 7-year-old with two left feet who swings at air. As most parents know, age means nothing really in the development of your child. If you see players on your team or another team that really are too good for T-ball, mention that they might be bumped up to the next level. If you have players who are 8 years old but mentally 5, keep them in T-ball a little while longer. Make sure your league treats kids as individuals and not just as ages. It's not at all safe for a kid who belongs in minors to be playing T-ball.

8. Don't just sit in the stands. If you are there for the game, help out. Someone needs to help the catcher put on his garb. Odds are the coach and assistant coach have only a little more experience than you have, and they have the stress of trying to make phone calls, wrangle the team, coach, and deal with the bureaucracy. Lend a hand. Maybe you can stand behind first base and remind the wee ones to run. Maybe you can volunteer to bring the snack. Everything is appreciated and most likely your coaching team is not being paid. Parent initiative helps greatly.

9. Curtail the potty mouth and the obscene gestures. This seems like a no-brainer, but you'd be amazed at the creative and colorful language I've heard from parents on the T-ball field. A T-ball field is an interesting cross section of lower- and middle-income and uneducated and educated parents, but keep in mind that kids don't need to be exposed to everything all at once.

10. Know the rules and know what to do when someone violates them. Most often that "someone" won't be a kid on the field but a parent or a coach. Little League has official forms to deal with complaints. Talk to the president of your league to see what the procedures are in your area.

Like Randy said, it is suppose to be about the kids and having fun. Make sure it stays that way. Most places in America, T-ball is over by the end of June. So relax, you only have a few weeks to go — and then on to summer camp!