It's this soccer mom thing...


Y'all, in ninth grade The Nice Kid played school basketball. During the entire season, she played in a least twice. Maybe three times. Ninety seconds tops? She scored a goal one of those times but it's possible they set the goal on the floor and reminded her where it was. She had fun. She got a great warm-up suit. She made friends with lots of awesome black kids who still watch her back; and we learned some SERIOUS catch-phrases and terms that most white kids never hear. It was good. (When you did something dumb, the black girls would go "FO!" When I asked, turns out that doing something dumb is one, dumber is two, but past that is just FOUR because you don't get three ;) The Big Boy and I attended all but one or two way-off games...she was part of a team, and that's what you do. We hoped she'd get better, she didn't, shit happens. SO??

(The thing here is that tennis is her sport...she competes USTA locally and holds her own. They just needed a tall kid for basketball so there's be enough girls to scrimmage. That works.)

My POINT, should I ever get there, is that we went to the games. We cheered. We made friends with the coach...the first guy my kids met taller than their dad. I bought the players doughnuts. Gave them rides home.

That's what it's about.

The Not Nice Kid tears UP whatever sport she plays. She goes out there intending to take you DOWN, and she usually does. Soccer is her thang ;), but she plays tennis and basketball, too. She throws a mean football. She can catch a baseball better than her record-setting dad. (This is so weird to want this ball? Here...I'll give it to you. You don't have to chase me for it or run for it or anything. Does this uniform make my butt look big? And are we going to eat after the game?) SHE WAS BORN THIS WAY. She also works at it harder than just about anyone you'll ever meet.

Which makes me the perfect sports mom. I have no clue what's going...can't keep score, don't know the rules, DON'T CARE...and I can cook. What else do you need?

And herein lies the dilemma. TNNK plays 5th grade's the soccer off-season and it keeps her in shape. Because she's so good, she also subs on the 6th grade can't play down, but you can play up. She plays most of the game and scores most of the points.

Last Saturday I had a 6th grade mom rip me a NEW one, because her 6th grade daughter only played 2-1/2 minutes. By her counting. And my 5th grader played most of the game. I was so stunned, I didn't even realize exactly what had happened until I got home and...she HAD heard me speak, she HAD heard what TBB said, she DID know we were standing there and...she was PISSED.

TBB blew me off, but then it happened again at practice Monday night. Not to the same degree, but she let me know in no uncertain terms she wasn't happy with the situation. I kept turning the subject to Christmas and hunting. Should have stuck with religion and politics. She wanted to be mad.

And herein is my question...what's the cut-off for "everyone gets to play all the time and no one is special"? We all know "no child gets left behind" translates into "no child pulls ahead." When do you stop forcing my above-average kid to be average?

Last year we were getting ready to leave for the elementary school Sports Banquet, and TNNK asked, "What kind of award do you think I'll get?" I pointed out that, possibly, there wouldn't be awards. That everyone would be recognized for trying. And the kid-born-with-the-killer-instinct, the kid-who-practices-in-the-driveway-until-I-make-her-come-in, the kid-who-works-at-it, said, "They better not make me drive all the way into town for a certificate."

I fell OVER laughing. And they did ;(

LIFE ISN'T FAIR. Self-esteem is ACQUIRED, it is not instilled. You can help your child excel, but each child is born with specific talents and can't be great at everything. You can be GOOD at lots of things, but outstanding talents and abilities are inherent.

So where's the cut-off? I've been on both sides of the fence...and it never occurred to me that TNK should have a place on the basketball team unless she earned it. I take my cues on a lot of this stuff from TBB and his athletic family and background but...isn't this just common sense?

I mean...don't Y'ALL want to be on my kid's team? BECAUSE I CAN COOK AND THROW GREAT PARTIES???? Sure, she'll help you win but I make a mean white sauce to go with beer-butt chickens. I know someone at almost every food establishment within a 100-mile radius and I can get us a table most times. I take a coffee pot to early morning matches, and I have a cooler in my trunk.

PRIORITIES, people, PRIORITIES. Food, laughter and beverages take precedence over winning any day of the week. I know. I checked.

It's in the Bear Bryant biography.


Country Girl said…
The OTHER problem is I keep having to break in these people. I've been doing this for THIRTY years. I won't be working the concession stand, the gate or clean-up. Been there, done that...over it. I signed TNK up for the 5-7 shift Saturday ;)
carl said…
I want my kid to play, if she's earned it. If she has not been practicing at home enough to be an asset on the field of play, she should be on the bench until she's needed to spell a teammate. If my child capitalizes on her opportunity while on the field, the coach will award her with more playing time. The next time she is called off the bench it will be a moment of pride and accomplishment for her. If she proves to be an asset consistently, she will get more time in the games to come. If not, she won't. I want sport to give my kids the same thing it gave to me. It provided a microcosmic 3 month window of victory and defeat, ups and downs, success and failure, of life. It taught lessons I carry with me today at 43 years of age. There is a place for all inclusive, let's let everybody play, sports. It's called rec league. If your child is playing travel ball, club, or select sports be prepared to watch kids, who may not be yours, do what they are great at. If your child earns a contributory role on that team, watch that with pride as they do the things they are good at. If you are lucky enough to have a child on that team that has a parent who can cook and throw parties, be prepared to enjoy that too. Jump in an enjoy the ride. If it proves not to be your child's strong suit, play rec league. It's what those leagues are for. But for goodness sakes do not harass the coach, who is usually a volunteer, or the parent of another child, because your kid is getting the playing time they have earned on a team that is dedicated to being as competitive as it can be at all times. That is what the other kids want and other parents paid for.
When the kids who haven't been encouraged to be competitive head out into the adult world (college, work) they won't understand why your daughter is already there leading the way. And the parents will be just as baffled.
I don't even know how to put all my thoughts into words on this but I will say this. I think organized sports with no scoring system or winner vs. loser thing is absolutely stupid. Kids need to learn the thrill of winning and the agony of defeat. Not everything in life is going to be handed to them and they need to realize they will have to work and push themselves to succeed.

I hope that when I finally have kids they will do well in whatever their favorite thing is - sports, school, science whatever - but I will not ever think they deserve as much as another kid on the field/classroom/etc unless they work for it!

p.s. love the Bear! xo