Dear Parent Screaming on the Sidelines,
Hi, I’m the mom across the field from you who can’t help but notice you instead of the actual children playing soccer.
Perhaps I’m noticing you over my child because the athletic ability on the field is not as engaging as it would be if this were an actual professional athletic event. But even more likely, I’m noticing you because your loud screams and fanatical waving of hands indicates this is not in fact a children’s soccer game but instead the World Cup we are attending.
I won’t lie though. Due to your great passion, I have had to look around and double-check a few times to clarify that I am not the one missing out on something. I mean, is this “a make or break your child’s life” game that no one informed me of? Is this something that I should’ve had my child stay up practicing for through the night? I don’t know. Your yelling is making me think yes.
No. No, I remind myself. This IS just children’s soccer. In all actuality, it might even be better defined as baby soccer. Or at least in my eyes anyway. But I can see that it is something more for you. Something so much greater.
I want to believe your yelling is an indication as to how much you believe in your child’s ability. I want also to believe that your jumping and waving about is the surge of confidence you have in your child’s athleticism. Your belief that they have the coordination and focus to score every goal in the game. And that they have the agility to get the ball past all the other ultra-competitive toddlers, er, I mean, children, every single time.
Funny thing though, your screaming just comes off as a mix of angry/embarrassing to me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the cheering and encouraging our children with powerful hoots and hollers. But your screaming just seems angry, which indicates to me it has nothing to do with your child and their future in sports. But instead, it has more to do with you and your past.
What kind of player were you? Were you the star athlete that played in grade school, middle school, high school and college? Were you, in fact, in the world cup, and I just am not recognizing you? I’m sorry, it that’s the case. Then kudos to you. That’s incredible. You are probably in the top 1% of athletes that will ever reach that level! But you’ve already had your time to shine. And it’s over.
Oh, that wasn’t you. You never played in school because you just weren’t athletic enough. Hmm. That’s interesting. So this is your way of living your dreams out vicariously through your child? Okay, I get it. That makes more sense. Trouble is, if you weren’t the star, maybe you can remember that it isn’t always easy to be the best. And in your child’s case, you might have your own genes to blame for their lack of athleticism. I don’t know. Just a thought.
Anyway, I’m writing this because I believe that you deeply love your child, and you do want them to know that. I know that love can take many forms and fashions. I understand for many “tough love” is the name of the game. And I respect that to a point.
But my understanding of tough love stops at the point your child looks sad on the soccer field. It stops at the point your child looks embarrassed by your behavior. It stops at the point that your child isn’t sure what your screaming is doing either, other than making them think that (s)he doesn’t want to play the game anymore.
So if I could help offer you any perspective, may I please offer you this?
Your child is 3. You know?
The age where (s)he still wears pull-ups at night? (Yes, the one you’re yelling at still wears diapers.)
The age where (s)he still thinks Mickey Mouse is real. And the ninja turtles. And super heroes.
And speaking of heroes, the age where (S)HE STILL THINKS YOU’RE THEIR HERO. Like even better than batman. Or superman. Or wonder woman.
So before you continue with those ever important words of critique, I encourage you to consider what inner voice you want your child to carry with them and what role you want to play in his or her life. Do you want to be their biggest cheerleader or their biggest critic? His angry coach or her forever hero? Your child will have a lot of coaches in life, but you are their only Dad.
The Mom Across the Field
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