I have kids, three of them. Along with kids, inevitably, comes Kids Sports. This is not to be confused with real sports. These are not teams comprised of actual athletes. No. These are groups of kids who wear the same color shirts while some oversized man-child throws a ball of some sort in the middle and parents sit in the bleachers for a hundred hours every Saturday, watching their kids NOT catch/block/throw said ball.
There are two types of parents at these events. Group one: the parents who watch the game intently, cheering at every strike, making excuses for every missed play, and talking about how great their kid is at catching/pitching/batting. These parents know every kid on the team, they bring coolers and back up drinks, snacks for other kids and they show up to every game and every practice.
Group two: Me. If I make it to the game, I can normally be found either scrolling through Facebook, avoiding other parents, or in my car. You will not find me at a practice and most other parents have no idea if I am someone’s parent or some creeper who occasionally makes an appearance. I don’t know the coaches names, I’ll never be the team mom, and if you ask me to bring snack, I will tell you that because we don’t live in a third world country, chances are, our kids will make it through that one hour practice without fainting from starvation.
My youngest daughter plays softball. I hate softball. I especially hate kid’s softball. Because I love my daughter more than I hate softball, I support this interest and while I may not show up at every event, I’ll pay for her to play and make sure she gets to everything. This summer she participated in a competition league. They were required to try out to make the team, which would generally indicate that some skill is involved. Competition leagues cost money. Normally a lot more money than regular season ball. So her father and I shelled out some cash for her to participate in this “exclusive” league.
Here are some things that happened during this season. The coaches played their kids and everyone else was either benched or put in the outfield. Parents got mad and yelled at the coaches. Coaches paid the girls for plays made. Saturdays and Sundays were spent at tournaments for weeks and weeks. Practices interfered with my life after work. Here are some things that did not happen during the season. Winning. Tying. Close games. Anything that would indicate that my money was well spent.
Listen, I don’t care if my kids won or lose. Hell, half the time I don’t know if they win or lose. This season, I couldn’t help but notice the fifteen run lead every other team had over ours at every single game. Not one game was close. This team was the goddamned Bad New Bears except they definitely didn’t win at the end. But whatever, sometimes you lose. Sometimes you lose a lot. I like to think it’s probably a good life lesson, one that I would appreciate more if it didn’t take YEARS of my life to sit through one damn tournament.
Here’s what I found absolutely astounding. The other parents. Our kids sucked. Really sucked. They walked just about every batter, got very few hits, and caught next to nothing. There was not one kid on that team that looked out of place. Meaning that they all sucked equally. The reason I know this is because I have eyeballs and could see it. The other reason I knew this is because an average game ended with a 20-7 sore. For some reason, the other parents didn’t know this. They said things like “The girls played really well” or “It was just an off day” or “Those girls looked older”. The list of excuses goes on. Wait. What? It was an off day? EVERY day was an off day???? They played really well? I am so confused. I just saw my daughter drop twenty-seven balls and I just saw yours walk twenty-seven batters. Which one of them is going pro?
Let’s just go down a bit of the roster shall we? There’s the ten year old infielder who called every ball there ever was and literally caught not one single one of them. The catcher who caught more balls with her chest than her mitt. The aforementioned pitcher who although cute as a button with her blond ponytail, could not get a ball over the plate if she were bowling it with bumpers. What about the batter who strikes out every time because she refuses to swing at anything? Oh wait that’s half the team. Then there’s the batter who strikes out every time because she swings at just everything. Oh wait. That’s the other half of the team. And please don’t forget the left fielder that spends half the game making daisy chains in the outfield and the other half making faces and signing to her best friend, the right fielder.
The last tournament was this weekend. In order to advance to Sunday’s games, we needed to win on Saturday. Earlier in the week a parent mentioned cancelling her Sunday plans for the tournament. I couldn’t help myself and I asked why she would cancel her plans. She looked at me confused. Oh my god, she was delusional. She thought maybe there was a chance for a win. When I said that I believed she was probably safe in keeping her plans as we were currently losing 14-2 and would only win if the other team forgot to show up, she looked shocked and found another parent to talk to.
It’s not that we should tell our kids they suck but I will not lie to my child. If she asks me if she played well my answer is no. You did not play well. You dropped every single ball. But guess what? My kid won’t ask me if she played well. Because she knows when she didn’t. Because I don’t blow smoke up her ass in any aspect of her life. It’s possible that my parenting methods are wrong in a lot of ways but I simply can’t see how lying to my child and giving her a false sense of greatness, is in any way beneficial to her. I don’t believe her self-esteem is suffering because she is good at other things. And I tell her. We have a pretty real relationship and I think she appreciates it. Or maybe she doesn’t but the way I see it, it’s a win/win situation because therapists gotta eat too.
I’m just saying maybe we stop giving our kids trophies for losing and maybe we stop indulging their every want and maybe we stop arguing with their teachers to change their grades. And maybe we stop raising entitled dickheads with no work ethic and no want to work hard for anything. I am all for telling kids they can do anything. If they work hard. Or have actual talent and work hard. But when my son told me he wanted to be a basketball player I had to suggest that he have a backup plan. Because he’s not that good at basketball. And he doesn’t practice that much so he’s probably not getting much better. And that’s ok. He’s good at other things. Things that don’t involve me baking in the hot sun for a million years trying to keep myself from shoving little Suzy’s mom off the bleachers in the hopes that a slight head trauma will allow her to see that her daughter one hundred percent is not naturally athletic and “going far” in this sport.