I have a confession to make. I have become THAT parent. You know the type. Loud, obnoxious, screaming at their kid at the soccer field. Yes, I have become that guy. If you ever knew me in person, you would understand how unlikely this is. I am not into sports. Maybe some table tennis and a competitive game of darts and billiards, but I never played any sort of sport in a competitive team environment. Sports did not interest me, I guess I was too busy exercising my hand eye coordination killing Space Invaders and trying to topple that angry Donkey Kong.
|Score, score, score|
I hear that playing sports is good for your health and great for social interaction, so my 7 year old son, Gomer plays soccer. He really does love it. He is built for it. He is quick, and strong, and does a nice job kicking that ball around. He can't wait for practice and games. We have a state of the art soccer complex near our house where they play. We used to go there to watch other friend's kids play and I used to always notice the asshole parent that was screaming at their kid or other kids on the field. I thought to myself, "What a dick, it's just a game." Most of these people were very athletic looking. Big, brawny, ex-jocks who wanted their kid to win at any cost. I could never understand why they would be like this. Until now.
Gomer is on a team where they are coached by volunteers. They are playing with their friends and classmates. Supposedly they don't even keep score yet. Who are they kidding, of course they are keeping score, otherwise why play the game? I am a very competitive person by nature. I hate to lose. I hate to see my son do something that I know he can do better. I hate to see him not listen to directions.
We were at his game, and he was told to play LEFT Defense. So that means, he is supposed to stay on the left side of the field and stay back to help defend his goal. Gomer is so excited about soccer and loves to help and run that he is running all over the field and chasing the ball anywhere and everywhere. This is where I got mad and started screaming at him. "Gomer, Gomer, get back to the left side. You need to help protect your goal." It is a large field and he can barely hear me. I screamed even louder. He looks at me and indicates that he doesn't understand me. I don't know what to do. I go over to him when he is rotated out and try to explain to him what to do. He still does not understand me. I blame the coaches of course for his lack of understanding. After the game, I asked him what happened, and he tells me that he was trying his best and did not understand what I wanted him to do. He looked sad and like he had disappointed me. I asked if he had fun, he told me yes. Even though they lost 8-2, he was still having fun. I asked him one final question, "Do you hate it when I yell at you?" He said, yes. That was enough for me to hear. I felt bad that I had taken his joy for playing soccer and made it a competitive sport where winning was important. Don't get my wrong, I think winning IS important, but at 7 years old, having fun is important too.
For now on, I will not be screaming at Gomer, unless it is to cheer him on. I don't want to be THAT parent. I know I will revisit this when he is older and can take the verbal abuse - I mean support from me.