Let me preface what I’m about to say with the following disclaimer: Not all boys like sports, and that’s okay.

Now then. Let me continue by saying my son happens to be one of those boys who loves sports in an obsessive sort of way, and that this affliction has absolutely nothing to do with me. I was the mom who bought her son dolls and told him it was okay to get in touch with his feminine side. He responded by tearing the heads off the dolls and finding something very high to leap off of, screaming like a caveman. Before I had a son, I was one of those people who thought gender roles were mostly socialized into us. Since having a son, however, I have realized that while there’s a lot of variety in people of both sexes, boys will often be boys, in spite of our best efforts to the contrary.

What this means, as my son reaches the age of 10-and-a-half (the half being quite important at that age) is that I often have no idea what this small man with the increasingly stinky feet is talking about, or how to talk to him in a way that makes sense. In short, I am now a person who pronounces “defense” with the emphasis on the last syllable, trying to communicate with a creature who pronounces the same word with the emphasis on the first, as in, “games are won or lost on DEE-fence.”

This weekend, at Cowboy’s ranch, my man used an elaborate and beautifully-crafted baseball analogy to talk to me about the concept of marriage. I blinked at him in confusion as the words and phrases tumbled out. Walk-off home run. Inside the park. Going deep.

As I drove home, thinking hard about what Cowboy had told me, I realized that he spoke a language I—and most other single moms raising boys—would be wise to learn. So today, I’d like to offer you the first of what I hope will be many primers on sports analogies that single moms can use with their sons. We’ll start easy, with three. On your mark? Get set? Go!

1. Force Play. This term comes from baseball. It happens when a baserunner is forced to get off his base and try to get to the next one, because a new batter has become a runner and needs the first guy’s base. I think of it as being kind of like a situation where your friend has a crush on a guy you’re dating. You’re not crazy about the guy, and your friend knows it. She introduces you to her hot cousin. You break up with the guy you’re dating, freeing him up for your friend. The moral? You gotta give to get. Not a bad lesson, really.

2. Dual-threat quarterback. This term comes from American football. It refers to a quarterback who is good at passing and rushing both. This is apparently rare, and valuable, because the dual-threat quarterback is difficult to defend against because you can’t predict what he’s going to do. I think of this as being like a woman who can dance salsa and bachata both with equal ease; her chances of scoring at the club are greatly increased, because she has two pools of, uhm, talent, to choose from. The moral? Being prepared is great. Being doubly prepared is bulletproof.

3. Creating Space. This term comes from soccer—or should we say futbol? It refers to when a player on the attacking team (yes, they call it that) moves away from the guy with the ball in order to draw the defending team’s players away from ball-guy. I think of it like being at an incredible sale at the Coach store, and there’s only one Madison Leather Sofia Satchel left in burgundy. You and your sister have to have it, but there’s a woman making a beeline for it. You intercept her, and compliment her on her scarf, while your sister grabs and buys the handbag. You do this because you know she’s going to share it with you. The moral? Trust your sister (or teammate) to do the right thing, but work behind the scenes to help make it happen; you will be rewarded in the end.