Back at the beginning of my daughter's ball playing days, my husband and I talked and reassured ourselves that we would NOT become the crazy sports parents! You know the ones! If you don't have a child athlete, you have at least been to an event where you see/hear a parent and just KNOW they are a crazy! I'm not sure how parents in general have evolved from just dropping a kid off at a game 40 years ago, to showing up and cheering for your kid 20 years ago , and finally now where the average parent is a big flaming ball of crazy! It was not even a full season before we had to remind ourselves to keep our cool. Now, five years, at least three ruined adult friendships, several disappointments in basic human decency, and too many heated verbal exchanges and dirty looks later... here we are. Sitting at the back of the field, away from anyone who may make a comment about our daughter or anyone else's daughter for that matter.
After one particularly nasty night at the ball park, I wrote this letter.
To MY daughter, the softball player,
I'm sorry I'm not your agent and PR rep. I had no idea you would need one. I thought being your mom and biggest fan was enough.
I'm sorry your dad and I were naïve enough to think softball was a game, good exercise and a way to make lifelong friends. We had no idea that it had become a surreal reality show complete with parent alliances, backstabbing, name calling and power plays. We had no idea you would not be seen as a potential friend for someone's daughter but a threat to their daughter's spotlight.
I'm sorry we taught you that if you work hard enough for something, you can get it. We did not realize that childhood athletics had become a second chance at glory for adults. A place where favors are traded, in-crowds still exist and the purpose of our kids is to make us parents important and in demand.
I'm sorry that now, at the age of 12. 12!!! We have learned too late that this game is not a game for kids but a life-sized chess board for the parents to play.
I'm sorry I never learned how to play chess.
So... What to do now?
This is what I need you to know.
I'm your mom first and your biggest fan.
Always respect your elders. Other parents, coaches, umpires or the dude stocking produce at the grocery! If I see you displaying disrespectful behavior, I reserve the right to snatch you off the field ( or out of the store) by your ear after making you apologize to everyone! Whether or not they deserve it is no excuse to be disrespectful or rude, you are a kid.
Remember your priorities; GOD, others, then yourself. At the end of it all, softball is a game. A game that may take you through High School, possibly College but rarely further than that. It won't last forever but you will always need GOD. You will have a life outside of softball and it's our job to prepare you.
Always listen to your coach on the field. Remember us saying this before every season? It's not because we don't enjoy helping you but for the time you are on a team, we are not in charge of your game. You will have many coaches throughout your playing days, and they will all coach differently. Learn to adapt. This is a metaphor for life actually, and that's another lesson.
Don't ever think too highly of yourself. There is a fine line between confidence and conceit. You are good but there is always, ALWAYS, someone better. Thank people for their compliments but don't hold on to them for long.
Be happy playing your game. If there comes a time when you want to quit, we are ok with that. This is YOUR thing, not OURS.
Be nice to the friends you have on the field, no matter if their parents like you or not. No matter if they like your dad and I , or not. Adults sometimes forget they are talking about a kid, a growing, learning, developing kid and not a full grown professional.
When you become a parent, and your kid plays a sport, be supportive. Be supportive but remember, it's THEIR game, not YOURS!
I love you no matter what. I can never say it enough.
I am proud of you. I see the hard work you put in, the everyday practices, the learning and developing, and I am proud of you. I love that you found something you genuinely enjoy. You are the best!
It's a slippery road folks. I'm not saying I haven't been a crazy! I'm saying, lets make a conscious effort to not be! You want to support your kid, I get that. The problem comes when you lift your kid up at the expense of others. Take the time to examine your motives, everyday. Find everyday opportunities to be a positive encouragement to your kids and those around you.
My name is Joni...
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