Attitude Adjustments, Be Kind, Egos, Emotions, Helicopter Parenting, Uncategorized, Watch, Listen, and Learn, Youth Sports

Scenes From an Afternoon of Youth Basketball

I enjoy people watching.  I love sitting back and observing mannerisms, speech, clothing, body types, how they interact with others, etc.  I never want or need to be the center of attention, so people watching is my way of learning about others. You can learn oodles with observation!  Yesterday, I went to watch my husband referee some youth basketball games.  I don’t know any of the athletes, but I do enjoy watching, for as long as my head and ear can stand the whistles and loud buzzers.  I also love watching Al doing something he really enjoys.  But some of these games bring out interesting characteristics in people!

When I first walked into the gym, it was about halfway through the second quarter, and it was pretty crowded, so I was looking for a spot to park my fanny.  A nice man saw me searching, and said, “Ma’am, you can sit here!”  My first interaction with someone there, and he was as polite and nice as can be.  I thought to myself that manners do still exist, even in intense situations, such as a youth basketball game. That was a great way to start this little outing!

I had a front row seat, and saw Al running up and down the court.  The score was pretty close (19-14), and both teams seemed to be very aggressive.  There were a lot of fouls, and they were extremely physical! I guess the boys on these teams were about 12 or 13 years old.  The win came down to the final few seconds, so most of the parents were on edge.  It was a good game, and fun to watch!

There were two ladies behind me, but I could only hear one…..she wouldn’t shut up.  She wasn’t watching the game.  She was telling the other woman all about how her boyfriend broke up with her because she was no longer his best friend, and he didn’t feel right about dating her and also working with her.  He didn’t feel like they would be right for marriage because it was too much work, and she disagreed because marriage is work, and blah, blah, blah!  I heard it all! Then at one point, she stopped and said, “I have a hard time getting to know people.  I don’t know how to get to know someone.”  I wanted to turn around and say, “Maybe if you shut up long enough to LISTEN to someone else, then you could get to know people!”  SHEESH!  My guess is she didn’t really care too much about her son’s game, and I bet her boyfriend really broke up with her because she talks too much about herself.

Other parents love to coach their child from the sidelines, which drives me insane.  If they want to coach, why aren’t they volunteering their time to do it?  They’re yelling at their child, yelling at the coach, yelling at the refs.  I can’t imagine how difficult these people are to live and work with.  I bet they’re never happy with anything, and everything is someone else’s fault. There are a couple of parents who know nothing about the game.  Every time their child got the ball, they would yell, “Shoot it!  Shoot it!” even though they weren’t in any type of scoring position, and weren’t within any proximity to the basket.  One boy mouthed off to his coach, and then talked back to his mother in the stands.  She laid into him for the whole gym to hear…..”You better remember who you’re talking to!” He was in foul trouble, but I think he was in more trouble with his mama.

Watching people with their families, and how they interact, is interesting to me.  First of all, I like to look at facial features and body types, trying to match the children to the parents, or which couples are together.  There was one family that were all built like blocks….the mother, the father, and all of the children had very square heads, no necks, square upper bodies, and skinny legs.  It was really odd……I had a hard time looking away…..they sort of looked like cubes with arms and legs.  The mother kind of led the children and her husband around like a pack leader.  They followed along behind her, and it was obvious who was in charge.  Back to her later…..

Because of the intensity of the game, the parents sitting around me were very vocal, coaching from the stands, and yelling at the refs (Al and another man).  I do get a little defensive when anyone criticizes him, but I think I’m supposed to.  In our marriage vows, we did promise to protect each other.  I think that goes for unfair criticism too!  Again, if they want to do the job, then apply for it.  See if they want to run up and down the court for up to 16 games a week.  See if they appreciate being yelled at, called names, or criticized for making the right call! Of course, some things get by the refs, and of course, they will let some things go on purpose, especially with the younger athletes.  They’re only human, and the game does need to move along.  If they called every little travel by these young kids who are still working on their coordination and control, then the games would take days to complete!  After Al came over and kissed me, they realized who I was there to watch, so they toned it down a bit.  I guess they knew better than to say anything with his wife sitting there. If they said anything after that, they kept it to a minimum.

For the next game, I moved to the other end of the gym, where it was a little less crowded, and one man sat a few feet away from me.  He had a lot to say when the game was going on about the refs, but as soon as Al came near me during the time outs, he lowered his head and played on his phone.  When the game started back up, he started his criticism again.  Coward.  It wasn’t a very exciting game because one team was really bad, and it was a blowout, so I left at half time. One of the parents from the losing team was the mother from the “block” family….the pack leader. I’m actually happy I left before the end of that game.  Al said she came to him, and verbally berated him for not making enough calls on the winning team.  She was mad that her team lost, and was very unpleasant.  It wasn’t his fault that her son’s team sucked.  The saddest thing about this is that she is a co-worker of Al’s at school.  She attacked another adult, who was just doing his job, over a youth basketball game.  Petty.  Immature.  And now their working relationship will most likely be strained.  As protective as I am of him, it’s probably best that I wasn’t there!

Watching and listening.  Watching, listening, and learning.  Spending an afternoon watching youth basketball games, and learning about people…..people I may never see again, but who show us so much about their personalities through their words and actions.



Helicopter Parenting, Overprotective Parents, Raising Self Reliant Children, Teaching Responsibility, Uncategorized

Helicopter Moms From Hell

Helicopter parents…..they’re everywhere.  I see it in stores, with my students, my neighbors, etc.  I understand the need to keep our children safe.  It is a scary world. However, I think things are getting out of hand, and we are raising wimps. When I was growing up, it was nothing to be home alone during the day, even if I had to stay home from school if I didn’t feel well.  Those days are no more.  Parents would be turned in for child neglect today.  During the summer, I was out on my bike, or with my friends, or at the swimming pool…..until it was time to come home for dinner.  And yet, my parents were strict, and a bit overprotective compared to my friends’ parents.  I learned communication skills, problem solving skills, and had to take responsibility for my actions.

But today’s parents frustrate me.  Last night, I was watching a youth basketball game that my husband was refereeing.  One mother was driving me insane.  She was one of those loud moms… know the type.  She only cheered for her child.  She coached him from the stands.  In fact, during time outs, before her child went to the huddle with the rest of the team, he came to her on the opposite side of the gym, to be coached by her before joining his teammates and coach.  That was disrespectful to his coach and teammates. She was pushy and controlling. Another parent did something that my son told me never to do as a parent.  Her son got hurt, taking a fall on the court.  Now, we are talking about an 11 or 12 year old.  He was not little.  As soon as he fell, his mother and two other women went running onto the court to check on him.  I remember my son telling me when he was about 7 or 8, that it didn’t matter if his arm, leg, or head was falling off….I was NOT to come onto the court, or the football, baseball, or soccer field.  He assured me that he was not a baby, and I was not to embarrass him that way.  There were many times I sat on the sidelines, biting my nails, as my child was sprawled out on the ground, being attended to by his coaches.  I waited for the coach to motion to me if I was needed (I never was).  It was excruciating at times, but I knew I could not be one of “those” moms, babying my child.  I will never forget the time he took a baseball to the face!  If I had run onto the court as that lady had done, my son would STILL be mad at me, and he’s now 25.  By the way, this lady’s son was fine.  He was able to get up and finish the game.

I’m really hoping the pendulum starts swinging back the other direction on this issue.  If not completely, at least a little, so we can let our kids learn for themselves, learn from their mistakes, figure things out, develop better problem solving and social skills.  Doing everything for our kids and hovering is only going to make their lives more difficult in the long run.  Colleges and universities are already seeing the results of helicopter parenting, and it hasn’t been positive.  Parents telling teachers how to teach, coaches how to coach, protecting their child from every bug bite and skinned knee are not helping their child.  Spend time with your child, but teach them to figure things out on their own, and develop life long skills for exploration, communication, problem solving, etc.  As someone who has raised three children, trust me.  It will be ok.  Kids will make mistakes, but so did we.  The world will keep turning, life will go on if you aren’t hovering over every detail in your child’s life.  I know we need to be hands on, and proactive, but that is different than being a helicopter parent.

And by the way, my son turned out ok…..he’s serving our country in the Navy now.  My worry for him is much bigger now than when he was playing sports as a child, and I still can’t run out and protect him with every little problem.  I’m glad he survived those bumps and bruises and cuts and scrapes (and the baseball to the face).  I’m quite proud of his bravery and dedication to his country….so I guess I did something right.