Saturday, May 17, 2008

The real reason parents attack one another with baseball bats during sports games

And with the completion of the final game this morning, soccer season has ended for all three of our kids. Kendrie had a great year --- landed on a winning team, with involved parents, a fabulous coach, and enjoyable teammates, almost all of whom go to her school, so lots of opportunity to make friends. She was really worried at the outset about playing on an all-girl team, but it wound up being a huge blessing and she had a blast.

Kellen’s season wasn’t quite as successful --- he loved meeting his team mates (everyone was new to this team, like him) and his coach was pleasant, but they got rained out of almost every practice. Seriously, out of ten weeks of the season, they only had three practices. The boys were competing against teams that had played together for years, and although they had a lot of natural talent on the field, they never quite got it all together and ended the season 1-9. He still had fun, though, and made some new friends, and that’s what counts.

Brayden’s season, well, was sort of a wash out. It had been almost three years since she played, so we purposely put her in a different league than the other two … a less-competitive league, run out of a church. We thought it would be a good way for her to get her feet wet, and become familiar with the game again, in a more casual way. Not as much stress; not as much competition. Good in theory, but in practice, this team was perhaps, too casual.

The coach missed half the practices and games, and we often had another coach or ref or volunteer step in and take over. There were only four girls on her team, and they played four-on-four soccer, so if a single girl from her team was absent on game day, which happened with alarming frequency, they had to borrow a player from the other team, or let someone’s sister play, or play one person short.

Brayden was the ONLY one of the four who never missed a practice or a game the entire season. The other three girls all missed at least two games, and about half the practices each. There were even a few times that Brayden was the ONLY one to show up for practice, and she was the only one to show up on picture day. One of the other girls on the team missed, in a row, a practice, then a game, then another practice, then another game. This was near the beginning of the season, and we assumed she had quit the team. When she finally showed back up again, she said she had been grounded for two weeks, and that was why she had been absent.

This actually sparked a conversation in our house about responsibility to your team-mates, and how Blaine and I would never ground our kids from a sporting event where they were a team player ….. simply put, we don’t think that’s fair to the other kids on the team. Groundings, in our opinion, should be about restricting TV or computer or telephone time, or being made to miss a birthday party or a playdate, or taking away a Gameboy, or whatever. When your daughter’s soccer team is in a four-on-four league, and there are only four girls on the team, I just don’t think grounding a girl from a game, and handicapping the other three members of that team, is appropriate or fair. But hey, that’s just me. Since Parenting magazine hasn't called with my Mother of the Year award, it's quite possible I don't know what the hell I'm talking about.

Something I did this season – something I try to do every season – is take pictures of the other players on each team while I’m taking photos of my own kids. Then I print out the best twenty or twenty-five photos and put them in a small brag book to give as gifts at the end-of-season party. I’ll be honest, it’s a little bit of a hassle, but I love doing it. I spend about five dollars a kid on the photo printing and books, which doesn’t sound like much, until you consider I did it for the four girls on Brayden’s team, the ten boys on Kellen’s team, and the 13 girls on Kendrie’s team.

And I don’t even mind spending the money (although I *did* find some cheaper books on the internet and you can bet your sweet bippy that’s what I’ll be using next time) but the real investment is the time I spend downloading, uploading, sorting, organizing, and photo-shopping these pictures. It's not out of the ordinary for me to take over 500 shots in a single weekend. Picking the best action shots, then cropping, zooming, adjusting brightness and level contrasts …. I really want the kids to enjoy receiving them, and I love for the parents to be happy with them, so I (gladly, and I really do mean gladly) spend hours every weekend on this project, from the beginning of the season to the end. The happiness on the kids’ faces when they see these pictures of themselves (or, the pretend-happiness on the parents' faces that they fake just to be polite … I don’t care) makes every minute and dollar spent worthwhile. Truly, it’s a labor of love and I don’t mind doing it.


(You knew there would be an “except”, didn’t you?)

Last night, the three other girls on Brayden’s team had a swim party and sleepover (but not Brayden, because our rule is no-sleepovers with families we don’t know personally …. But our over-protectiveness is another blog topic for another day) and they were all coming to the game together this morning. We arrived a few minutes early, and I took my chair and set up by the side of the field, ready for the game to start. Brayden was waiting in our van (still pouting because we wouldn’t let her sleep over and made her come home at 9pm because {and I quote} “we are the meanest parents in the world!!!”).

The other parents on Brayden’s team haven’t been incredibly friendly, and we most likely wouldn’t recognize one another on the street. Another dad showed up and set up his chair next to mine, waiting for his daughter to arrive from the sleep over. The girls were running late, and the referee came over and asked the people on the sidelines if the team was going to show up. (Because our coach wasn’t there again today … imagine that.)

This dad said to the ref, very politely, “The girls had a sleepover last night and my guess is they’re running a few minutes late.” After the ref walked away, the dad turned to me, who he didn’t know, and said, “Not that it matters if they show up anyway, they’re terrible.”

And I sat there, just looking at him, and then he laughed this sort of patronizing laugh and said, “Oh, did I just say that out loud???” This was the very same dad, mind you, who kept his daughter from the games and practices whenever she was grounded.

I sat there, fuming, and I wanted to ask him, did he KNOW that one of those girls he was talking about was my daughter? And just how was the team supposed to get any better when he wouldn’t bring his OWN DAUGHTER to practice with her team mates?? Or let her play in all the games? Or when the coach wasn’t even there half the time???

But because I have no spine (No, seriously, no spine. It’s a medical miracle I’m able to stand upright) I just sat there, with my mouth shut, with the photo album of his daughter’s pictures in my hands. Pictures I spent my own time and money taking, and tweaking, and getting developed as a gift for him.

And I thought very seriously about throwing his set in the trash.

Because, yeah, that’d show him.

Ok, so it wouldn’t show him anything. But I think it would have made me feel better.

(Yes, I'm still a little bit angry about it .... can you tell?)


Stefunkc said...

Holy cow! This amazes me! What an idiot. Idiot applies to the coach and the dad. I'm also wondering if you could have another child Reagan's age so I could get one of those photo albums for her team!!

heartshapedhedges said...


I totally agree about being a team player. Andrew broke his arm, but I we still went to cheer on the team, and help out with little things in the dug's a TEAM, and, even when the major leaguers are out with an injury, they still show up for the game and warm the bench. One of the reasons we sign our kids up for team sports, is to learn about teamwork, etc., that other dad is a dork!

And the coach....geesh! Id be really mad about that, probably would write a complaint letter to the league, just to that they know how he was and how it impacted Brayden.

Im also with you on the slumber party rule. Working with victims of abuse, MANY incidents happen at the home of a friend, I think it's important to really know who your kids spend time with, including their parents.

so, basically, what Im trying to say, is if you havent received your Mother of the Year award yet, it's not that you arent deserving, it's just that someone like your coach is probably running the contest, and it just late.

PS. Im sure Brayden will appreciate all of this one day...and I also wonder if "M" still reads, and if she isnt thankful that Brayden has such a loving family watching out for her best interests.

Monica H said...

So did you give him or his daughter the pics? How did he react? Ooh, I wish I could have been there to see his face!

Monica H said...

I'm not sure if I missed it or not, but how were the award ceremonies last week and how did Brayden react to her siblings being knighted? Do you have pics- we'd love to see them :-)

Monica H said...

I know 3 comments in a row! This will be my last- I promise.

But what did you ever decide to do about the funeral situation? I was just reading your older posts, and was wondering if you made a donation in her name, or sent flowers, or any of the other great ideas that other people suggested.

MonkeyBusiness said...

shit! Can i go back in time and kick that guy in the nuts? no? too bad...

Amy said...

You can let Brayden know that she will have to talk to my thirteen year old about passing the "meanest parents in the world" award over to you guys!

Bravo to you for putting together the memory books, this is a very nice gesture and really it is for the children, not the parents and someday they just might appreciate it!

Sherri said...

I agree with you on not grounding kids from sports events when they are on a team. I did the same thing with my girls. Once you sign up, you've made a committment and your teammates are relying on you to be there. Just trying to teach responsibility and committment, and all of that stuff. My youngest had two seasons that she had injuries that kept her from playing part of the season of softball (broken elbow running track and broken thumb playing catcher on the softball team) and she was still there for every practice and every game. (OK, so mostly she sat there and fumed that she couldn't play and complained that the girl that replaced her behind the plate didn't do as good a job at catching as she did, but still, she was THERE.)
And as for the memory books, wow, I would be so impressed if someone had done that for my girls and their teams!

Sherri in NC

Anonymous said...

grrrrr... oh my gosh that would have pissed me off sooo bad. The boys team isnt that good either but you know what its so cute to see these boys try our 1st game looked like the bad news bears. the photos is a great idea...

jbaj said...

Wow! Some people are unbelievable! My youngest plays flag football and we played a team that didn't show up and play us - twice! Coach didn't show, team didn't show they obviously informed each other but not the league because we were all there with the refs!

I do those photo books too except I give them to the coaches. I take a lot of time making sure every kid is included and they are good pictures blah blah blah. I never thought about doing it for the kids - not a bad idea at all!

CAT said...

Hey Kristie,

That is too bad about the kids not showing up for the team sports. My daughter dances competitively, she is 16 and very committed, they dance at least 20 hours per week and have a couple of girls who are not committed, they are only dancing because their parents won't let them stop dance so they don't show up for competition or they just don't know what they are doing, because they don't come to the classes and it really is frustrating for the rest of the girls. The sad thing is that these parents laugh and think it is funny that their kids don't know the dance or that they don't show up for competition.

Wait to see what a "mean parent" you are when you get to the teen years and your kids friends are ALLOWED to drink at 16, and you tell your kids absolutely not, their parents actually don't have a problem with that!!! I have had to deal with that with both of my daughters and to be honest with you I find it quite shocking. So stick to your guns, it will pay off in the long run.

I tell my kids it is easier to be a parent who doesn't care than to be a parent who wants to do right by their children.

Have a great day!


Cathy in MI said...

Kristie you are an amazing mom. That you take the time to make these books for the other teammates - well I am entirely impressed. That just shows how much you care about your kids, their activities. If my kid was on your team I would be thrilled to be able to share in one of those photo books!

And about grounding and sports practices. We would never have our kids miss a practice because of grounding - kids need the physical activity as well as to learn to follow through with a commitment. There are so many other ways to follow through on grounding - like no tv - no video games - etc. It's too bad there are some misguided parents out there in this world.

Dianna in Louisiana said...

I'm right there with you about spending the night out Kristie.... at her kindegarten graduation, one of the moms asked if my five-year old daughter could sleep at her house. Mind you, she wasn't one of the three other moms who were involved in class parties, etc., so I never saw her before. I was a little taken aback, especially because she asked in the presence of my daughter, who was quite upset when I had to tell her no.... what a moron this lady was.... As for the soccer dad, well, he sounds like a moron too! I sure wish that my girl was on one of your kids' teams, I would so, TOTALLY love if another parent made a book like that for me.

Anonymous said...

OMG! You think just like I do! No wonder I love your blog....well that's one more reason anyway!

Where shall I send the Mother of the Year crown? You really do deserve it!


Vicki said...

I can't give you enough credit that you deserve for putting those albums together. I myself take LOTS of pictures and know how much work it is to upload, print, download, organize, crop, etc and that's for only my 1 daughter. I would be THRILLED beyond words to receive something like that at the end of the season and I'm sure most parents are more than appreciative which makes it all worth while. I agree with you on the grounding for team events. Mostly I agree with about everything you talk about so no different here. Keep up the great work and always look forward to your life stories (you have a way with words).

Vicki - Michigan

Pam said...

i am an expert soccer mom (LOL) so I know how to address everything! Just kidding, but having 3 kids play soccer I feel like I know everything.

There are times when class is shown by the other team. Ie, (get prepared for a long story) Alex's team was in the 6th bracket(bottom) and played a team that should have been in the first bracket. Of course our team got stomped. My Alex (goalie) played incredibly well, but - the other team had so much class that they came over and congratulated her after the game. (I think it was 11-1, Alex saved at least twenty. *dramatically*
I guess that the sport is about good winners, and good losers. And it is also about the parents being good sports!

Anonymous said...

I can't believe the nerve of some people. I really think you were right on about the commitment issues and not making the other children suffer b/c of something your child did to get in trouble. We do the same thing in our family. We don't skip out on gymnastics just b/c she doesn't "feel like going today and its beautiful" outside either. That doesn't cut it with me. Guess Brayden will be playing on the same league with the other two next year, huh? Then you will have lots more kids to make books for, not just the 4. I am thinking of stealing your idea for gymnastics. We only have 14 girls on our level so that would be easier on me. Plus, we only have 7 meets. Sometimes the gymnasts do really good and mama forgets her camera that particular meet. That would be a really nice thing to do. Thanks for the idea!! I love it.

lizinsumner said...

You're not spineless - you have class. And the other parent DOES NOT. I would have done what you did - although, I probably would not have been so generous as to have taken pictures and made copies/books at my own expense for all of the other children. And, I would've been inwardly fuming and wishing that I could say something as well. But, you took the high road and you were generous to boot. Makes you the better of the reasons I read you so faithfully. I'm proud of you! (not that my pride in you should matter, but it does).

lizinsumner said...

I mean, it does to me.....never mind. Go Kristie!!

Tammy in Ohio said...

O.K. we are mean parents too and would not let our kids stay just anywhere. I have had way to many stories from friends with older children telling me what they wished they would have done differently. You can imagine that was on the top of the list. So, we listened and so far it has not bitten us in the butt! Now, as for the dad in question. Seriously, why did you not just give him the picture book laced with a little sarcasm and say something witty. Like, "hey, here are some pictures of your daughter and her sorry soccer season." etc. . . That drives me nuts. I especially LOVE it when some other nut job parent wants to live vicarously through his/her child and screams like a fool. It gives me extra tingles when they feel privy to yelling at my child! Thank the Lord that soccer does not go on forever and ever. I need the break more than the kids do!

RSMDianne said...

Kristie, count me in with those who do not agree with grounding a child from team sports. Although, to be honest, it worked in our favor. My 12 yo son hated winter lacrosse, whined about practices, everyone on the team "hated" him, wanted to quit, and we wouldn't let him...gave him the whole "you're part of a team" lecture, not to mention the $300 we had spent on equipment! Then the boy who played goalie *was grounded for the last two games, my son filled in at goalie, with a borrowed stick. He LOVED it, and wanted to play another season! He played spring lacrosse He is still learning, and wasn't very good, to be honest, but ::::shhh:::: neither was his team. Granted, 11 out of 15 boys had never played before, so they had a lot to learn, and they improved quite a bit through the season but he loved it and wants to play again next winter. And we had to shell out another $300 for goalie equipment!

As for the photos, the photo albums are a great keepsake. I was the "team photographer" for my dd's U10 spring team. I put together a dvd of pictures I took at the games. I put in 10 pictures of each girl where they were the focus, a picture of each of the coaches, and another 60-70 team shots. It was easy to do with iMovie and my iMac. I put in music, transitions, and a few effects. It took many hours, mostly because my mac is new and I had to learn the program, but I think it turned out pretty good! We'll premier it at the team party in 2 weeks, and I have burned a copy for each girl.

Ginger said...

As a parent and person who runs an organized competitive youth organization (indoor color guard), THANK YOU for understanding that grounding hurts the team!! My philosophy on folks who do it and keep their kids out of sports, band, etc. is that it's because it makes the parent's life easier. It's takes work to punish a child in a way that makes it meaningful to them so they won't make the same mistakes again. The folks like that dad are just happy they have one less stop on the "Mom's Taxi" route that week. So, here's a big old "good for you"!!

I do something similar with the photos for my kids in my groups. Each year, they get a photo collage of pics from all season long. There are group shots, funny shots, and at least one individual shot of every child. I have them printed and put them in an inexpensive frame, and they LOVE them. I've had random kids I didn't know come up and talk to me at events, and they say, "Oh......I know you from so-and-so's collage pictures. I go to college with her and she has them all in her room!"

Thanks for giving your kids and so many others wonderful memories!

Anonymous said...

This is so incredibly nice of you. I don't, however, think that man deserved his!

Sandy P said...

Did the rest of the girls finally show up?

Jeanette, feeling your frustration in GA said...

We have had the EXACT same problem with baseball this year! We have had to forfeit at least 3 games due to parents just not showing up, as well as the whole not-showing-up-for-practice problem. It is so frustrating when we have been to every single game and practice and have to drive across town and then be told we have to forfeit. We also had the same talk about team responsibility. And the coach does NOTHING to promote team spirit or excitement-nothing. He actually speaks very little to anyone.

Also, we have one player, a girl, who so does not want to be on the field. The ball will land ten feet in front of her and she will stand there, look around, casually stroll up to the ball, and half-heartedly fling it to first base. AARRGH! And her parents don't say a word.

Needless to say, we have yet to win a game this year.

Anonymous said...

I hope you gave him that book. Please write and let us know. I would have felt horrible if I had been him. Some parents totally amaze me. It makes you realize why kids grow up the way they do.

Sandie in MN said...

I have to tell you that I "encourage" (STRONGLY!) my kids in independent sports like gymnastics and swimming. Then, they don't have to be let down by parents (because it's really about their commitment, isn't it?) who don't show up each week.

Of course, we have also done the baseball, soccer and kickball (which was so much fun, actually!) but have came back to the idividual sports time and time again.

I am really hoping my 4 year old will take up golf:)

Krisha said...

My husband coached pee wee football and baseball for almost 9 years in a row. The first day of practice in his welcome speech he would tell the parents to not "ground" the kids from practice. He told them to bring them to practice and to tell him that they were in trouble and he would make them run extra laps, do push ups etc. Of course, you would still have the occasional parent who wouldn't follow up on his offer and the team would suffer. Your story brought back so many memories of some of the times that we had. Great job on the photo albums. For all the parents that don't appreciate all your hard work I am sure that there are more that really do appreciate it! Pictures are my favorite gift!

Becca said...

That is an AWESOME idea and gesture. I'll hold onto that so when Sofia is old enough to be in groups and stuff, I may use it.

And really? Poor Brayden. Hard to get your feet wet when the other kids don't even want to be in the pool. I hope she still managaed to have fun, and perhaps is either ready for a different league next year or a different activity?
And actually, good for Brayden, and good for you for having made all the practices and games. Why be in a league if you really don't want to be?