I’m not overtly political in nature. I have my opinions, but I don’t enjoy debating politics. The last few weeks I’ve had conversations with my elementary-age children regarding issues they’re hearing at school from children that have me questioning what, exactly, adults are thinking. It started with comments about Benghazi and deleted emails. Then there were walls and taco trucks. My daughter has been told by a fellow 1st grader that she’s “what’s wrong with the country” because of who... [Read More]Read more
Three years ago when our oldest son started youth tackle football, people told me to be prepared. Tackle football was not for the faint of heart. There was the physical nature of football, but there was also the nature of football coaches for these 5th and 6th grade-age boys. By the third football game of our son’s first season, it was apparent that football coaches were different than any coaches our athletic children had ever been acquainted.
Our oldest son’s coaches during his first two seasons were not too bad. There was yelling, but nothing near what we saw on the opposite side of the field during games. It was disheartening to hear the words and tone of voice grown men, some fathers, would use with the children dressed in pads and helmets. Parents would compare notes on what was said and done by coaches.
Last year, when our second son decided to try tackle football, we entered it with trepidation. We knew that there was a good chance our son would find himself under a coach who would yell and maybe curse and possibly belittle and threaten. He might be taught to intimidate and talk trash on the field. I didn’t want that to happen to our sweet, quiet boy. We talked about what we expected from a coach and what wouldn’t be tolerated. The first practice came, and there was nothing from the coach. We went the first week with no yelling or over-aggressive, do-anything-to-win attitude. Our coach was calm, kind and not over-bearing. I exhaled at the end of that first week.
Last year was great, fantastic even. The team didn’t win a championship, but the players, the coach and the parents got along well. There was no yelling, no belittling, no threatening. There was encouragement. Our coach encouraged the players as people and athletes. The parents encouraged the coach and each other’s sons. This year we had the same coach and same players with the same result. We watched out son grow in confidence of what he was physically able to do on the field.
If you ask our son, he’ll tell you his coach is kind and caring. I’ll tell you he’s calm and collected. Not once in two years did we hear the man raise his voice to a yell. I’ve seen some things standing on the sidelines of midget football games for four seasons. There have been words like “annihilate,” “loser,” “pansy,” “worthless,” along with some cursing. I’ve seen men embarrass boys simply for making a mistake. I’ve listened to men belittle and holler in the faces of children, and at referees.
Several times I’ve thought how grateful I am that my son isn’t on such and such a team. Many times I’ve thought if that was us with our son under that man’s tutelage, we would be done. I’ve listened to friends talk about showdowns with coaches where the parents aren’t happy with their style of coaching. I’ve listened to boys talk about how mean their coach is and how they feel bad for disappointing their coach.
A coach is a teacher of sports. It would never be tolerated to walk into a classroom and hear a teacher speak to his students in the manner some youth football coaches choose to do. I know it’s not the same thing. I realize that football is aggressive by nature, but I know you can instruct football without being mean and overbearing. As coaches and parents, let’s agree to raise up our athletes in an environment that teaches them skills, but values who they are as people. Let’s work together to take pressure off players to crush one another and instead encourage them to improve in their skills and enjoy the game they’re putting time and effort into. Let’s work on teaching our children how to manage their emotions, a skill that will suit them well for all their years. Most importantly, let’s remember those players in pads and helmets are learning a sport and are still just children.
If I was an animal, I would dig a hole and hide in it when things were too much. The person that I am copes by huddling my family closer in this home we’ve made together. I want to close the curtains, disconnect the WiFi and pretend it’s just us. Really I’m not coping, just hiding. Eventually I have to come out and actually deal with the world. Life has been heavy the last few weeks. We have too many... [Read More]Read more
Teachers, I’m asking for some grace. We’re in our first full week of the new school year. We’ve done the back-to-school nights and signed all the papers. We’re almost in the groove, heavy emphasis on almost. Give me time to acclimate to the four varying schedules and demands of our children. Half our kids don’t have homework. The other half will, one far more than the other. There are reading logs to keep and behavior ladders to memorize. When I... [Read More]Read more
Some of the best money we spend each year is the $80 used to purchase an America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. The pass gives us free access to over 2,000 federally managed recreation sites across the United States. This year we have a 4th grader who qualifies for a free pass through the Every Kid in a Park program. I’m always looking for ways to save money. This saves us $80 and allows for access... [Read More]Read more
Confidence is fleeting in my parenting game. One day I think we’ve got this. The next, Craig and I are looking at each other wondering what we’re supposed to do. This morning I had no clue what to do when a child potentially breaks bones. By this evening, I had it figured out. Almost 14 years into parenting and we had yet to have any child break a bone. The simple act of running ruined that record. Our first-grader was... [Read More]Read more
Our second oldest son and I were driving to his 6th grade orientation last week. His brothers and sister weren’t with us. This was the perfect time to talk one-on-one about heading to middle school. I over-think and prepare for situations. I was going to begin with talking about responsibility before moving into the importance of kindness and bravery before wrapping up with a shortened version of previous talks on drugs, alcohol and sex. I’d given this talk to his... [Read More]Read more
She told me I was overly sappy. She accused me of looking at parenting through rose-colored glasses. I was told I was crazy for not wanting my kids to head back to school. I’ll admit to being a sap. It’s taken me years to embrace the fact that I’m an emotional person. I have all the feelings all of the time. I’m passionate and a little emotionally volatile. I feel my way through life, and no longer make apologies for... [Read More]Read more
Barcelona 1992. That was when my passion for all things Summer Olympics began. I watched everything I could in those pre-Internet days and stood in the grocery store reading magazine article after magazine article devouring every athlete profile tidbit I could. Gail Devers, Jennifer Capriati, Derek Redman and the basketball Dream Team were brought up in conversation as if they were friends of the family. Not much has changed in 22 years. My passion for the Olympics runs deep, and... [Read More]Read more
We’ve spent our summer doing what we do best: wandering. I play the part of responsible adult most of the year, attending meetings, turning work in on time, volunteering, and running kids hither and thither. Summer is for following my gypsy heart. I long for deserted roads stretching to the horizon and open vistas from the mountain tops. I pour over the road atlas and maps looking for the next place to visit. I’m sidetracked by road signs. I constantly... [Read More]Read more
Each year I make a short list of books to read, places to visit and a new thing to learn. I manage to finish the book list and cross off places we visited. Then there’s the thing to learn. For three years, the new thing has remained the same: take a ballet class. It sits at the bottom of the list with me making no attempts to make it a reality. The excuses piled up. I’m almost 40, surely too... [Read More]Read more
Something has been missing all week. Someone actually…two someones. Our oldest two sons have been at summer camp this week which is the first time half of the children have been away at the same time. It’s been interesting to see our third son step into the role of oldest for the week. He’s been extremely helpful and attentive to his sister. He’s enjoyed being the leader instead of the one who tags along with whatever his older siblings want... [Read More]Read more