Posts Tagged ‘sports

19
Nov
18

I’m not ready for this – Part 1

Bas Senior Day

Senior Day with Sebastian, Melina and me.

So it begins.

Or rather, so it begins to end.

This past weekend — Saturday November 17, to be exact — marked the end of my eldest son’s football season and, unless something really crazy happens (hey the University of Southern California football team could need a scholarship athlete to pull up their GPA!), the end of his football career.

And with that it hit me that Sebastian, my first-born child, is really wrapping things up a and hurtling towards graduation, college and full on adulthood.

I’m not ready for this.

I mean, who is?

I guess some of you are, but if the experiences of friends are anything to judge by, it’s a very few.

Complicating this is football, something which has been a massive part of this family’s life for a decade. Our younger son, Simon, isn’t a football dude. He may be in the Marching Band when he heads to high school next year, so we may still be at occasional games.

And I’ll be there almost every Saturday, covering the game for the town paper as long as it’s around.

But neither of those things are the same experience as actively having a stake in what’s happening and a connection to the team as exists when you have a kid on it.

It doesn’t help that the game ended badly for Bas’ team, as they lost in the State Sectional final, on their home field. It also doesn’t help that for the fourth year in a row he was hurt, which probably cost him a starting job, so he didn’t play quite as much at the end of the season as he may have wanted.

It doesn’t help that football was a place he and I have connected for a long time. Less so as he has moved to high school and become interested in other things, I stopped coaching and we both had other things to occupy our time.

So it’s bittersweet to see the end of football.

Mind you, there is a small, guilty bit of me that is a little relieved. I can’t tell you how hard it was to divest myself of emotion for the team – a team with a significant number of kids I coached plus my son on it – during the seasons. I would imagine my editor probably could tell you stories where he rolled his eyes.

It’s easier to manage that when I don’t have a son there. I still know the kids and have a connection but it’s easier to shove that aside when it’s not your kid.

What makes it seem a little better are the things I saw from my son as the season progressed. He became more confident and invested. He also cared a great deal about his teammates.

He would defend the quarterback when we talked about that kid’s struggles.  He felt sympathy when two of his team were lost for the season right before the playoffs. Bas was supportive of players who earned spots over him, no matter how much he might have wished to have won the job himself.

And while he was hurting because he had just lost his final game ever, he was expressing concern for the future of the team, and hoping the two offensive linemen who won’t be graduating this spring would have a good last season when they were seniors themselves next year.

Football seemed to bring out some of the best in him. He was never one for the limelight – each week a senior is asked to lead the team onto the field with the Mountie flag, and Bas said he declined it when asked if he wanted to do it – but he was always the kid who had his teammate’s back.

Last season, when the Mounties won the State Championship – undefeated, I might add – Sebastian’s role was pretty limited. Some of that was due to injury, some of that was due to the team being ridiculously talented and deep.

So when the game was over and Montclair was celebrating, he admitted to me it was a bit bittersweet – he felt like he didn’t do a ton to help, and wished he had had a chance.

I tried to point out to him that what he did each week as a member of the scout team — a group of guys who run the plays the coaches think the next opponent will use — and when he got on the field to give another player a breather, was very important.

Every day at practice, the coaches knew they could rely on Bas to make sure he gave his all, did what he was supposed to and help the starters get prepared for the upcoming game. If the scout team isn’t focused and working as hard as they can, the starters won’t be as prepared.

It’s kind of an important lesson to learn, one I hope he will take as he moves through life. You don’t always get the limelight, and you don’t always get the accolades. That doesn’t make your role or value less.

Most of the time, the people around you notice. I think his coaches and fellow teammates did, and I think  his future coworkers and friends will as well.

A chapter in our lives is ending, one of many as we move towards his high school graduation. It only just hit me as we all sat eating dinner Saturday night, that we are at the beginning of the end of Sebastian as a kid.

And at the end of the beginning of the rest of his life.

I’m not sure how I feel about it. I’m not sure if I will for a long time.

I know I’ll revisit this feeling, whatever it is, a lot this year, hence the “Part 1.” At some point, maybe we’ll reach the end of it.

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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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What I’m Into:

Reading: Dead Beat by Jim Butcher Listening to: The Heist, Macklemore Watching: Damages
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