Posts Tagged ‘parents

06
Jun
14

Macho Macho Man

via Nantucket-Bucket.com

So we’re wrapping up our inaugural lacrosse season here in New Jersey and while there have been some frustrations with communications, I’d say it’s gone well.

Alpha Tween has been playing excellently as a goalie—the most thankless job on the field it seems—and his coach has been very excited saying “He’s making saves on pure athleticism! Wait until he has technique!”

Which is a nice compliment, although it made me chuckle. It’s like saying “hey you’re really good with no idea what you’re doing!” It happens to be true as well, but it’s funny.

The Professor has been enjoying himself as well, and I’ve really seen a lot of hard work from him to improve.

Last night was the last official games for both and in the cases of both games, it got a bit physical and chippy towards the end. People likely don’t realize it, but lacrosse can be a tough, violent game at any level. And the more tired people get, the more frustrated and the more they use their sticks to hit and not control the ball.

At one point late during The Professor’s game, one of the kids got hurt—I can’t quite recall the circumstance—and was laying on the grass as coaches tended to him and made sure he was OK.

My wife—football mom that she is—yelled for the kids to “take a knee” as that’s what we do in Pop Warner when someone is hurt. You kneel down out of respect for the guy hurt and you clap when he gets up. This has been taught to Alpha since he started in football back in New York, and when my wife coached soccer last fall, she drilled it into the kids on her team as well.

It’s just good manners. I’ve never given it a second thought—all the other teams in our Pop Warner league do it and as a coach, I just figured everyone else did it.

Apparently not.

What I didn’t hear, but my wife did, was the gentleman to our left who muttered, “Why is it always a woman who shouts that?”

image via USAFootball.com

Now, maybe he was wondering “why don’t more men do that?” or maybe he was wondering “why women are so soft?”—I can’t say. When my wife relayed it later it definitely sounded as if she felt it was the latter.

I had echoed her shouts the first time, so it seems like an odd comment.

When the next kid went down a quarter or so later, she didn’t say anything.

I noticed no kid knelt down and no parent or coach said anything to motivate that.

I didn’t say anything, though I almost did—but it’s hard to be the lone voice. My wife didn’t say anything, which I found odd at the time, but now makes sense.

She didn’t want to be “that woman.”

I’m saddened for a couple of reasons. That she felt she couldn’t show compassion for a kid who was hurt (on our own team the

second time). That she felt like her consideration was marginalized because of her gender. That clearly the whole “kneeling down thing” isn’t widespread among all teams and sports in our town. That some guy (who for other reasons struck me as nobody I want to have a beer with anyway) felt the need to comment on how “it’s always a woman.”

There’s a lot to unpack here.

First, comforting a hurt kid is a human thing, not a woman’s thing. If you’re a dad and you think otherwise, I’m going to go ahead and suggest you rethink what being a dad means.

That doesn’t mean you coddle or throw your child in a bubble. It means you show compassion. Yeah, yeah, men aren’t supposed to do that, I get it, but you and I both know that’s crap. It’s one thing to roll your eyes when you or someone’s kid is whining for a new toy, it’s quite another when someone is hurt.

image via PrincipalsPage.com

This also gets into the whole macho aspect of sports. This is where I used to type “machismo of football” but it’s all sports, especially on boy’s/men’s sports. All athletes are taught to play through pain—it’s part of the game and there is something to be said for learning to fight through it. To fight through adversity and determine whether what you are facing (be it a sprained ankle or difficult math assignment or being overlooked at work for a promotion) and how serious it is.

And more importantly whether it should stop you, and how to keep it from doing so.

But one thing the organization I coach football for is big on is teaching the difference between being hurt and being injured—and being OK with admitting when you’re injured and can’t go on.

I hate when parents—and this goes for both genders, because I’ve seen it from men and women—tell boys to “be a man.” I mean, listen, there are times to tell your kids “oh grow up” and times to point out that what they have is a bruise not a broken leg and shouldn’t stop them from doing what they’re doing.  But when a kid is laying on the turf, not moving—and maybe I’m nuts—that’s probably not the time.

It irks me when parents comment like this dad did. It irks me that he saw good sportsmanship as a “woman’s thing” instead of good sportsmanship. It angers me that my wife felt like she couldn’t encourage that sportsmanship because she was being judged. And it frustrates me that I didn’t pick up on it and I was just as silent.

The idea that we shouldn’t be compassionate on the field or concerned when a player on any team gets hurt and is down on the field is garbage and I don’t care what gender you are. We’re supposed to be teaching sportsmanship as much as anything else and clearly, that’s not on everyone’s agenda.

image via PackersHistory.net

And here’s the thing—compassion for an injured player isn’t a woman’s thing. It’s a human thing. You want your son to “be a man?” You teach him that even when it’s your opponent on the ground, you treat it as if he’s on your team, you treat him with respect and you hope he gets up. You kneel, or stand silent or whatever it is your team does and you clap when he gets up. You play with passion and aggression, but fairness as well.

These things are not mutually exclusive. I cover the NFL and while some of these guys truly don’t like each other, the majority of the players in the NFL are friendly with each other even right after a game. And what do you see them do when someone is badly hurt?

They kneel. They pray. They worry about someone on the other team as well as on their own.

That’s being a man in my book.

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07
Aug
13

Attack of the Helicopter Parents: When Gymnast Mom Strikes

image via ABCGNews.com

I’ve been threatening this column for a while and I figured that with football season starting it was about time.

However, I’ve had some subjects for posts I really like show up in my brain, so I kept pushing this one back.

Then my wife came home with a peach of a story and I figured “That’s a sign.”

First, you may not know what a helicopter parent is.

Well, helicopter parents (known in entertainment circles as stage parents) are parents who hover over their kids when they do whatever it is they do. Most commonly found around kids who play or do something that could end up making them famous or money, it’s a parent who sees that Johnny can shoot a basketball or Sue can dribble a soccer ball better than any of the other kids and decides they’re going to “help them” make the most out of their skill.

image via PrincipalsPage.com – and it’s a brilliant shirt

Often it’s the parents living vicariously through their kids—they were never talented enough to make the high school wrestling team and get a full ride to college, but Harry can—but sometimes they’re just way too enthusiastic in general.

There are different flavors—from the mom who won’t let her son drop violin because “he’d be wasting his talent” to the dad who micromanages his son’s life so he can become the ultimate quarterback.

Anyone who is my age and follows football thinks of Todd Marinovich, the former USC and Oakland Raiders quarterback whose dad was working to make him a quarterback when he was a toddler.

That’s not even all that uncommon really, though the extreme side of things.

We’ll see some nuttiness in these columns but let’s start with what my wife witnessed at gymnastics last night.

The Professor is starting to play team sports, but he really likes the individual ones as well and as nimble as the monkey is, gymnastics has always been a great fit.

Tuesday night was a makeup class for him in place of one he missed when he was visiting his grandparents a few weeks back. It was a slightly lower level then he normally does (he’s intermediate level #humblebrag), but as always, he had a good time.

image via Huffingpost.com

While he was doing his thing, my wife waited in the lobby. You can watch the kids, but there isn’t much space to do it so she was sitting and hanging out while he had his class.

At some point a woman came in trailing two little girls and the three of them went to one of the glass doors to watch.

The woman began criticizing (in a loud Jersey accent which my wife described as “Snookie”) one of the girls in the class for not holding onto the balance beam.

“Oh she’s not going to do it. She has to hold on when she does that. She’s just being lazy.”

She then shooed the other two girls away, blaming them for the gymnast’s struggles because “they were distracting her.”

Then, obviously the gymnast caught her mom watching her as the women started directly talking—through the glass door and very loudly—to the girl.

“You have to hold onto the bar. You’re not holding onto the bar. You have to do it or you won’t be able to do the stunt.”

Eventually she let it go, exasperated, and sat down. My wife said she then started a loud conversation across the room with another parent discussing at length how her daughter was lazy, complained too much, wanted to do the gymnastics but won’t practice, wasn’t going to put in the effort she had to and oh no, now she’s going to complain because cheerleading is starting and she won’t want to do that either.

And then she started having a loud conversation about her daughter’s body and how she would be getting breasts soon (apparently she was about 12, though my wife said the girl was very short so she didn’t know).

You know, because that’s a conversation for public consumption.

Sidenote: I have noticed the last few years that people will say the most private, not-for-public things in public places now. I don’t need to know your daughter is hitting puberty, I don’t give a damn if you think so-and-so drinks too much or how much money you make. Keep it to yourself.

image via Huffington Post

The daughter then came out for a water break and the woman began berating her. Just telling her all the same crap she did through the glass, but now in front of everyone in the lobby.

The girl snapped back at her—”I’m trryyyiiiinnnnngg”—in a tone which my wife said she’d have never tolerated. Until she considered that the mom was dressing down her kid’s skills, attitude and desire in front of a group of strangers at a very loud volume.

They ended up in a super loud argument (something which is always embarrassing to witness) that resulted in the girl huddled up on her mom’s lap sucking down a Gatorade and in tears.

Now, I don’t know what the mom’s issue was. Maybe she’d had a bad day and this was unusual. I will say that the story has the feel of something frequent, but I don’t know.

I don’t know if she thought her daughter could be a gymnastic star or was lazy or any number of things.

But good lord lady, it’s your daughter.

If you have an issue with her effort, you talk TO her about it not rant AT her about it. And here’s a pro-tip: do it away from other people and listen to your kid. Maybe her arm hurts. Maybe she’s feeling ill. Or maybe, even though she loves it, two hours straight of gymnastics is too much for her. Perhaps a shorter class or lesson?

image via CambridgeNannyGroup.com

If your kid wants to do something, you have to be the one to see how much effort they—and you—can put into it and adjust the activity accordingly. It’s one thing to make a kid practice—we make Alpha practice his guitar—it’s another to make them practice to the point where they are exhausted and stop liking what they are doing.

It’s insane. I’m proud of my wife for not saying anything because that sort of thing is hard to witness silently.

Your kids are just that—kids. They need your help managing their time and they are not small adults. They don’t cope with things the way you might.

Just try and remember that the next time the kids aren’t quite putting as much effort into something as you think they should.

Your biggest concern should be that they are having a good time and smiling a lot.

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