Wednesday, May 23, 2012

On the subject of bravery

A few days ago, I picked MiniMac up from school with a soundtrack of a thunderstorm in the background. He told me it had rained on them on the playground earlier and he could now hear the noise outside. As we were making our way out of the school,  I asked, "You know what that is, right?"

He answered, "Its not God watering His flower garden, Mom. Rain is actually caused by cloud formation and moisture in those clouds."

For the record, I have NEVER told him rain is God watering His flower garden. Thunder is God playing drums, yes, but never a mention of rain and a correlation to a flower garden.

When we got outside and heard the thunder, he informed me the thunder and lightening no longer bother him. "I am very brave, Mom." I concurrred.

Later that night, as electricity flickered in our house, a thunderstorm blew in. From his room, MiniMac called up to us. "I don't really care for the thunder!" he said earnestly.

"I think it will pass, baby." I replied.
"Really, Mom, it is VERY loud and bright down here!"
"If you close your eyes, you won't see it," John tells him.
"I can STILL HEAR IT Daddy!"
Good retort my little man.

"Mom, I am getting scared down here! Can one of you please come down!" A statement, not a question.
I respond, "One of us will certainly come down but you told me you were very brave today."

As our tiny son's voice starts quivering, he replies, "I was only brave then because I was wearing my Superman shirt."

John went down and laid in bed with MiniMac until he fell asleep, but it made me think about his statement. Imagine if bravery were as simple as merely putting on a Superman shirt. I don't know if it would work at our age, but not only is it worth an effort, it is representative of the sheer power of belief.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

10 Comments for the parents who like to "coach" from the sidelines...

MiniMac has joined his first official team. We are about 4 weeks into his first football season. Not to worry, it is only flag football at this point but yes, I must clarify since this is SEC country after all. A few thoughts on team sports: Not everyone is going to be #1 and I think schools are doing kids a significant disservice by neutralizing the fact that yes, some kids are going to be better at certain things. Instead, the idea is that ALL kids are #1. Wrong.  The rest of their lives from academia to job promotion simply are not structured that way. Nor should they be. You should learn at a certain age the harder you work, the better you will be. But MiniMac is barely 5 right now. And it is not about winning at age 5. For now, our only request is that he pay attention and listen to the coach. Those two requests are handled well most of the time because he is pretty thrilled about playing football. Despite the fact I had to explain to him several time why this league is NOT tackling (even though, he clearly pointed out, that everyone on the University of Georgia and Atlanta Falcons teams tackle).  It has been rather fantastic to watch him listen and process, and grow increasingly more interested in the sport. And he is pretty fast. But I have also recently been reminded the key to the speed is stay in your lane. There has been more than one unintentional crash because little kids run like bumblebees; sometimes in crazy nonsensical patterns.

I would like to say we were prepared for the other parents. Not the normal ones, the crazy ones. I would like to say the litany of articles and media coverage about parents going over the top would have served as adequate notification that I would be dismayed when it came to real life antics. But MiniMac is our only child, and well, we are still JV on certain things. So based on my own actual sequeway into team sports, I would like to share  

10 Comments for the parents who like to "coach" from the sidelines:

1. Check the age of your child before you unleash him for his first team. I feel confident you know this age because it was a requirement to put your child on an age specific team. Therefore you know your son is between 4 and 6. Have you met a child between this age before? Of course because you HAVE a child this age. Is this not the same child who changes subjects 20 times in 5 minutes? Is this not the same child who will ask you in the middle of reading a story 'when are we going back to DisneyWorld?' or 'Will you make pancakes tomorrow' other assorted questions that have nothing to do with the story. The answer is yes. Oh believe me, I know more like repeating myself 8 times to a 5 year old than I like being stuck in an elevator but it comes with the territory.  It is not in your child's wheelhouse to focus on this game with the precision of a NASA engineer. It is not combine day for the NFL. Act appropriate about your child's bandwidth.

2. Hey Dad who constantly yells at your son to "RUN FASTER" and "YOU CAN NOT RUN IF YOU DO NOT PUMP YOUR ARMS" . I am not sure your son knows how to react when the coach is telling them one thing on the field and you are shouting with all your might on the sidelines. I know most parents shout commentary from the sidelines. We do too. Our comments are more along the lines of "Nice hustle" and "Way to run the ball."  Even when we see the need to say "focus" we don't yell it repeatedly.  And certainly not to the extent my voice continues to go up in octaves.  You know how I know you are overzealous? Because your face is turning bright red and sweat is spewing out of you and it is not from the sweet Georgia sun, honey. You also like to repeat these statements about every 20 seconds. Maybe you should take your child out in the backyard and have a race. I guarantee he will beat your arse from one side of fence to the other. Then perhaps he can yell at you every 20 seconds for an entire hour. PS: You sound like a donkey braying into a microphone.
PS: I get that some of you have realized your sons are not taking to the sport quickly. I am sure that is frustrating to watch someone do something they do not immediately excel in similar to what it would be like to watch you do a push up, learn to use an iPhone or well, parent your child.

3. Hey Dad who I have nicknamed "Coach Critic", I appreciate you want to stand on the sidelines and complain about how you "don't agree with what the coach is doing." You don't agree with what the coach is doing? He is teaching 4-6 year olds the basics of football. Do you want that job? Right. Some minutes it would be easier to ask a cat to sit for the bar exam. And guess what? It is not a hard task to ask the kids to run through cones. These are children that can operate an iPad with swift and deft ability. You don't like it because your son isn't really listening to the coach and therefore is hopping over the cones like Peter Cottontail. Calmly, ask your son to listen, you do it all the time at home.

4. Hey Dads who love to stand on the sidelines playing catch and talking about the "old days". Do you know what is odd? Is that you are throwing the ball as hard as you possibly can at one another.  I am surprised you have not yet donned your jersey from high school. Youth Sports is not a euphemism for "Relive your partial glory days". My favorite day is when the Coach, who actually played ball at a big school, asked one of you to toss a ball onto the field and you treated that request like it was the "Test Your Strength and Win the Million Dollar Prize"  throw. A throw the coach easily caught and then said, "Thanks for trying to show off." Note he did not say "Thanks for showing off" but rather "Thanks for trying to show off." Translation: You throw like a dandelion. I won't even say you throw like a girl because I am a girl, I have a Father who coached football growing up and well, I can throw a better spiral than you but you don't see my on the sidelines doing high knees and yelling HUT HUT for the fun of it.

5. Hey Mom who marched on the field and told your son if he dropped the ball again you would "pop him in the mouth." WOW is all I can say to you. To your kid I say: Maybe you can live with your grandparents. PS: You can easily outrun your Mom if needed.

6. To the Dad with the worst behaved kid on the field: Do you think it is the coach's job to tell your son to stop hitting, spitting or kicking other kids? Answer: NO. Your answer: WHY OF COURSE. Which is why you literally stand there for an hour when your son acts like a jackass and you do nothing about it. I love that the coach told your son on Sunday that if he did it again, he was sent out of the park. Not off the field, not to time out, out of the park as in "get in your car and scram."  Oh, and even more interesting is you will yell at your son for not drinking water during the water break but you won't say a word to him when he spits in another child's face unprovoked. You have parenting down pat.

7. To the grandparents who brought their tiny grandson to practice one day, with 4 of your friends in tow, you are awesome. And I was delighted to watch how delighted you were when you learned your grandson's nickname on the field is "Sweet Feet". That kid has skills and you all were in heaven watching him dart around. And you cheering " Goooo Sweeeet Feeet" was almost as loud and likely more fun than a Georgia game which is really saying something. PS: You made up for the above mentioned.

8. To the woman who told me she couldn't believe that "Little X has two Moms and I don't know what I think about that or if I am really comfortable with it...." in reference to one of the players and his lesbian mothers, well, all I can say is Thank God they didn't conceive you so you don't need to worry about it. The football field is not the location to share your social beliefs on same-sex child-rearing. Especially with me. Oh, is that what people do when they don't understand the sport and yet have to yap about something? Zip it. Good to know you are not teaching your son about football, teamwork or sportsmanship but rather ignorance, intolerance and prejudice.

9. To my favorite Dad, the one who witnessed your child get hit from behind, knocked down and hurt. I was unaware the way to make a child stop crying was to yell approximately 6 inches from your child's face. Wait, did you just call your son a wussy? Oh my, you did. And you meant it. This is a sensitive issue for you.  I feel certain your son is not a wussy for getting knocked down from behind and doing a face plant in the dirt. He is only 5 and not Stone Cold Steve Austin. Wussy? Really? I hope he tells your wife. And his grandparents. And we all know that wussy is the less abrasive version of the word  P____. So you basically called your son a P____? WOW. That might be the worst thing I have seen to date. And unfortunately, it won't be the last. Welcome to team sports, also known as 'Time filled with delight watching your child while simultaneously being around a few people you don't like at all."
PS: Is it not odd you would basically call your son a P_______? I find it interesting men use this word on another to imply weakness, impairment or frailty.  Doesn't this word  in fact represent your favorite thing on earth? So in your own weird way when you call a male a P______ you are really saying I WORSHIP YOU or I THINK OF YOU APPROXIMATELY 6000 TIMES PER DAY!!!! Wow, so not only are you an A-hole, but a rather poor communicator as well.
PSS: I think men who don't know how to conduct common interaction with their sons so they resort to caveman tactic of pushing, punching in the arm, and basically calling them a P_____  in some archaic stream of thinking it will 'toughen' them up are not ideal role models.  And by "not ideal role models" I specifically mean d-bags.

10. Best piece of advice on read on being a parent of a young person playing sports: At the conclusion of every practice or game, tell them first how much you like watching them play. Don't launch in with your long list of critiques or how you would have handled it differently 25 years ago when you played. It can wait until you get off the field. The first statement should be: I really enjoy watching you play. Amen.