The summer after eighth grade I coached a younger girls’ softball team. Technically I suppose I wasn’t the head coach because a parent volunteer had to be, but I was the one who ran all the drills, made the line-ups, and well, did the coaching. At the end of the season the team won first place in the league tournament. The girls really improved a lot that year and that last game was an exciting one.
We were presented with a team trophy, which the girls all wanted to give to me. I was really honored and felt good about what we’d accomplished as a team. And then the mom “coach” whose main role was basically to haul the equipment around because I was 14 and had no car, took the trophy from me and kept it herself. Her stated reason was that she should have it since my family was moving at the end of the summer.
Wonder where that trophy is now and if it ever really meant anything to her? To a 14-year-old kid that trophy would have been a special reminder of the last summer she ever spent in the town where she was born and raised, where all of her memories of being a kid were sown throughout the years. To that shy 14-year-old girl, who had never been a leader of anything, it was a big deal.
As my kids progress through their sports careers I’m finding that nothing can suck the life and enthusiasm out of kids quicker than an adult with a misplaced set of principles. Whether it be the guy who is trying to live vicariously through his kid, or the obnoxious blowhard who hassles the umpire every game, or the mean girl who turned into a mean mother, it’s the adults who can’t act like mature adults who ruin it for everyone.
Fortunately individuals like that have been the exception and not the norm, but when you do run across them it’s difficult to find the right answers. Difficult to know how to react and how to help your kids work through it. I suppose in a way it’s a good exercise for kids to know what type of behavior not to model, and because they’ll be subjected to idiots, windbags and bitches for the rest of their lives, so they may as well learn coping strategies at a young age. But wow, how I wish people could grow the fuck up.
© Jennifer Alys Windholz, 2012