I’ve never been a real sporty girl. Sure, I was a cheerleader for a few years in high school, and you know, I knew when to scream for our guys (when the points on the scoreboard changed in our favor), and which end of the field was which, but that’s about it. So when my boys decided to play sports, much like Alice down the rabbit hole, I was dumped in to a whole new world.
I wonder, sometimes, if I am not quite a “good enough” sports parent. I mean, I generally take them to practice on the appointed days (unless I forget), and I get them to their games at least 10 minutes early for practice (although, sometimes, their socks are mismatched). I take my camping chair and sit in a position that allows me to gaze at my adorable offspring and leaves enough room around me for my heart to puff and swell with pride without knocking any other mothers out of their seats.
I am happy when they win – because it makes my son happy – and I just really don’t much care if they lose, because…..well, because somebody has to lose, right? Sometimes it’s going to be us. Maybe next time will be our winning game. Perhaps not. Either way, we’ll still go home and eat dinner and probably execute some inappropriate parenting and let the kids stay up late eating cookies and watching “Big Brother” or “The Walking Dead” with us as a family.
Or maybe the six of us will scour the house looking for that one perpetually missing baseball or soccer sock. But we probably won’t.
Sometimes, though, I watch the other moms as they leap from their seats, shaking their fists to scream, enraged, about an unfair call, “Hey Coach, what’re ya, BLIND?”, or “Does this ump even KNOW how to play?” Or yelling at their child across the field, “Stand straight! Slow and steady! Just like I showed you at home……NO! Not like that! The way I taught you at home!! You’re better than this! I said do it right!”, or “I love you baby, but…..you want to win, don’t you? Try harder! You don’t want to be a loser, do you?”
And I wonder.
Is that the way it’s supposed to be? Is my lackadaisical approach to sports the reason neither of my boys are “star” players? Should I try harder, should I be clutching the chain-link fence, white-knuckled and red-faced, screaming at my child to do it better, stand taller, act tougher, be a winner?
I do sometimes yell at my boys on the field, but lacking any real sports savvy, I can only repeat the same two impotent phrases, regardless the sport season. My vocabulary regarding athletics is decidedly deficient. If something exciting is happening, I clap with the masses and scream, “GOGOGO!” or perhaps, if I’m feeling particularly verbose, “RUNRUNRUN!!” Incidentally, these are the same two phrases I yell when I wheel into the school parking lot just as the tardy bell is ringing in the morning. What can I say? I’ve heard repetition is good for children.
Testing the waters, I brought the topic up with my youngest boy after a recent game. “How do you think So-and-So feels when his mom yells at him that way? Does it help him do better, or does it make him feel embarrassed?”
“He doesn’t like it, Mom. She yelled so much at him today, his tears leaked out.”
“Aw. That’s too bad.”
“Yeah. He tried to stop them with his fists, but the tears came out anyway. He never has any fun at games.”
“Did you have fun at your game?
“YEAH!! Well…..we lost. But we might win next time. Did you see me catch the ball, Mom? I caught it once, and got the guy out!”
“I did. I saw that! Very cool. I was so proud of you!”
“…..is “The Walking Dead” on tonight? Can we watch it on Demand?”
“Sure, Bean. If it’s on, we’ll watch it. How ‘bout some cookies?…..and after that…..”
“After that….maybe we’ll look for that missing sock.”