Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Children and Sports: Sticks and Stones

"Baseball game" by Now and Zen Photography
Kids and sports
Every Saturday, we pack up and head to my son's baseball. He plays for a league that doesn't keep score, everyone gets to bat, and everyone gets to play. Cute, right? *Eye Roll* Actually, I despite how sports' leagues play like that. What happened to teaching kids that not everybody is a winner? Yeah, that's why it's called a game. There's a winner and a loser. And, well, ya can't be both at once!
Anyway, it's a great starter league to help him understand the concept of a team and to get the basic fundamentals down. Come to find out, he's quite the little competitive slugger! The coach has him batting last and has named him as the "clean up hitter". He makes me super proud when he's the only one who can hit the ball into the outfield! 

While he was waiting to bat, I got distracted by another parent on our team. "AUBREY, AUBREY. PAY ATTENTION" Followed by a mean hand whipping gesture from the mom. 

**Side note---if you're yelling at your kid to get their attention, only to tell them to focus on the game, is it possible you're creating him/her confusion?**

First thought: "Holy Sh!t lady, calm down. You're on a 10. Take it down to about a 2. She's only 5, lay off of her!' 

Instead of speaking my opinions, I just sat back and watched. What I saw was truly sad. The mom was in her mid 30's and dressed pretty normal. She was wearing a t-shirt and mom jeans that made her have a saggy butt and complete with sneakers. But, her clothes were clean and hair was pulled back in a simple pony tail. Her daughter Aubrey was wearing her hair in pigtails, baseball jersey, skinny jeans and high top sneakers. She was extremely cute, but seemed as if she was uncomfortable. 

I sat and watched as this other mom became seriously frustrated with her (5 year old) kiddo not paying attention. She would pace back and forth, like she was a coach in the World Series (Go Boston, BTW!). Her other daughter was making a ruckus and not wanting to sit in her stroller, because let's face it...it's boring to just sit and not BE a part of the action! The mom made numerous grunting/frustration sounds when her kid would scream. Followed with eye rolls and even telling her (I'm assuming 3 year old) 'YOU'RE FRUSTRATING ME, UHHHH' 

I would glance over and the mom had this rage look on her face. When we made eye contact, she would dropped her head, as if she was ashamed that she got caught. If she was this way in public, It made me wonder what she did when no one was watching. I also thought 'damn right, you better drop your head like a dog that just got caught chewing up sneakers!)

 I know that I'm not the encouraging, peppy, excited parent at every waking moment of the day. I'm not the one saying 'good try' when my son swings and misses while at bat. (I don't think it's the 'effort' that counts for him). However, I'm also not the one threatening him ("that's it, I'm not bringing you next week because you aren't paying attention). Seriously? The stuff that comes out of parent's mouths...I choose to say what he's doing right (Way to smack that ball!) versus what I think he's doing wrong (Pay attention, kid, quit messing with your glove)

In all of this watching others, it made me more cognizant of how words can truly hurt. Especially a child, who's learning by observance. That poor girl looked so disappointed when her mother would get after her. She even tried to express herself by crying, because she was sad. She got yelled at for it. She got yelled at a lot. Such a beautiful little girl, with her hair in pigtails, and her sparkly skinny jeans on. Outside, I see a polished little girl with the trendiest clothes and accessories. Through her frown, I see a disappointed, discouraged, sad little girl, who is just doing what she's told. Even at that, she's can't do it right. She can't do anything right, according to her mother. 

This week, I'm planning a distraction technique. Maybe she just needs a little help. An outlet? A break? Either way, I plan on butting in and killing her with kindness. 

Perhaps she can pay it forward, and it can be a positive way to start her day. Wish me positive thoughts for next Saturday's game! 

"Baseball game" photo by Now and Zen Photography downloaded from FreeDigitalPhotos.net