Late one recent sunny afternoon, my two older sons and I went to the town field to play baseball. My youngest was still at preschool, so we were down a man. I started out as catcher, while my oldest pitched to his younger brother, who had already complained that it was too bright, and started kicking dirt all over home plate when I informed him, “No, you cannot borrow my sunglasses – they’re prescription.”

His Eeyore demeanor was mere foreshadowing. After his brother threw two pitches that nearly clocked him, he, griped, “You stink! I don’t want you pitching to me!” As he dramatically launched himself out of the imaginary batters’ box.

“He doesn’t stink. No one in this family stinks. Just go to first base then,” I told him. “Pitch to me, honey,” I said to my oldest.

I swung and missed three times. True, I’ll swing at just about anything, which we do when there’s no catcher and we have two novice pitchers (and me who never even aspired to be a pitcher until pressed into service last year by my sons, neither of whom wanted the other to pitch to him), and only three baseballs.

“Never mind pitching, let me just hit balls to you guys. Fielding drill.”

I hit ground balls, fly balls, and pop ups. We created scenarios with plays at first and second, during which time we talked about the benefits of using a cut-off man when throwing the ball home, rather than expecting the catcher (me, in this case) to chase them all over the infield; how far should you go to catch a foul ball, rather than thinking the catcher (me) will retrieve them all; and who covers home plate if the catcher (me) has to step away.

Things went downhill when both boys decided they wanted to hit simultaneously. My middle son insisted he wanted to use second base as home so the sun wouldn’t be in his eyes. We had started doing that last year when playing on the swampy back field that abuts the woods, rather than stand in a mud puddle at home plate. (We didn’t even bother to check the back field that day — given all the rain and flooding we’ve had, I was sure it would be a marsh, and I was wearing flip flops.) My rules-based oldest wanted to do it “the right way,” at home plate.

They each took their bases on opposing sides of the pitchers mound, where I was standing – stuck in the middle of the two of them with our three balls. Not only were they forced to take turns, but also I had to turn my back on each of them at one time or another. If I threw a good pitch to one and not the other, it wasn’t fair. If one hit the ball farther than the other, it wasn’t fair! If I caught one fly ball and missed the other, it wasn’t fair! If one of them had to wait and the other didn’t, it wasn’t fair!

Soon my middle son was stomping around and pitching a fit, as well as his bat and glove. Once the gloves are off, it’s game over.

“Looks, like it’s time to go, boys” I said, but I felt like shouting at them. “Do the math, boys! Three balls, two kids, one parent. It would never be fair!”

The mother of three sons, Caroline Poser lives with her family in Groton. She works full-time as a software marketing professional and moonlights as an author. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, including the New York Times Best-selling series, Chicken Soup for the Soul.