Arriving home with my family one evening after yet another aggravating practice with Petey, I finally snapped. Grabbing the helmet from the trunk, I slammed it onto the hood of the minivan and, like a deranged magician, pulled a hacksaw from a nearby shelf for all to see. Look, nothing up my sleeve here.

Mark, Cameron, and Parker locked themselves securely inside the minivan. As I wedged the hacksaw’s blade between the smooth side of the helmet and that pesky wire face guard, I could hear Mark saying something to the boys about female hormones and how, someday, they too would be married and in hell. Looking like an extra from The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, I sawed away at a fevered pace until the face guard finally fell to the concrete floor of the garage with a satisfying clatter.

Mark slid into the driver’s seat and cracked the window an inch. Attempting to speak in a calm tone, he said, “I’ll take the boys for ice cream. You just rest and enjoy some ‘me time.’”

“She’s still got her car keys! Floor it, Dad!” Cameron commanded. My husband burnt rubber down our driveway.

I was immediately embarrassed. For the rest of the week I moped around in my own wretched pile of mom-guilt. But at the next game my insanity was rewarded. As I scanned the boys crammed cheek-to-cheek on the bench, I couldn’t tell the players apart. My son finally fit in with his teammates. Oh, heavenly anonymity and obscurity! I’d achieved my—I mean Parker’s—moment of glory.

“Where’s little Petey?” a concerned parent asked, searching the lineup.

“I think he was traded to another team,” I replied gleefully.

Of course I knew that removing the face guard wouldn’t guarantee my son a career in pro ball, but at least he appeared to fit in. The individualist in me typically would have railed against conformity. I don’t often want my kids to fit the mold—I want them to shatter it. But I’d decided that at the tender age of 8, in the arena of Little League, perhaps it’s better to run with the pack.

Then again, maybe not.

After 21 solid weeks of Little League practices and games, Parker promptly announced his retirement from the sport.

“I’ve decided to play tennis,” he told me. “There aren’t any helmets in tennis.”

I’ve since retired my hacksaw. And Parker just won his first match.