Dear coach of my kid’s future soccer team, Principal of her future elementary school and fellow parents:
If I show up to LJ’s first real soccer game and there are FOUR GOALS instead of two so the kids can “score easier”: I will go fucking bananas. If every kid wears the same color on field day at her school, to ensure that nobody has to actually TRY, and every precious little child wins: I will go fucking bananas. To the 85% of parents polled by the NY Daily News who said that Wiffle Ball, kickball, freeze tag and Red Rover are DANGEROUS and should be BANNED FROM SUMMER CAMPS BY THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH: You. Are. Pathetic. I feel sorry for your kids, because you are setting them up for a lifetime of frustration and mediocrity.
In the 7 years that I played soccer as a kid, I don’t remember anyone crying if we lost. Ever. In fact, getting our asses kicked 6-0 by the purple team (or by Rockville Centre’s ridiculous soccer prodigies) made us try HARDER during the next game. We ran a little bit faster. We cheered each other on, and learned how to be gracious winners AND losers. The truth of the matter is, and I’m going to sound like an asshole here: sports are not JUST about having fun. They’re about working well with others; learning how to have patience; gaining problem-solving skills; and improving confidence. They teach the importance of perseverance. If the scoreboard is taken away, and your kid is never allowed to experience the joy of winning or the frustration of defeat: they won’t even try. Can you blame them? The POINT of playing lacrosse is to work with your team to score goals. The POINT of baseball is to score runs. If you’re trying to teach them the game, well, quite frankly, that’s just how it’s played. There aren’t FOUR FUCKING GOALS (unless they’re toddlers, and spend most of the time staring at the clouds anyway).
While out on Long Island for a day last spring, I happened to drive past my old elementary school during field day, one of my favorite childhood memories. It took me a while to realize it was field day, though, because the kids were all wearing the same exact shirt. There were no teams. The three things I remember being awesome about field day were: finding out what color team you were on, hoping it wasn’t something lame, like maroon; the tug-of-war at the end; and the fun competition. Now there are no colors, no tug-of-war (deemed too dangerous, of course), and no competition. There are no ribbons given out at the end. Now I realize that every kid is not athletic. At this point my 3-year-old seems to have 5 left-feet and prefers bubbles to her mini-kick scooter. That’s fine. The thought of relay races might fill some kid’s bellies with anxious butterflies, but really, is anyone THAT amazing at hopping in a potato sack?
Throughout life we ALL encounter experiences that make us feel nervous and uncomfortable; moments of disappointment; and times where even busting our ass resulted in failure. We picked ourselves up and kept trying. Your kid probably won’t get into every college on their list, or get every job after graduation. They WILL experience epic failure, and won’t always be “smartest”, “fastest”, or “the best”. If you don’t stop coddling them, and don’t start teaching them the values of tenacity and determination at a young age, they will turn into self-entitled brats. Mark my words. I’m a teacher, I’ve seen it. We all need to stop praising our kids for every miniscule thing they do, and stop telling them they’re “so smart” for every line they scribble and simple instruction they follow. I’m guilty of it, also. I shouted “GREAT JOB!” when my daughter took off her sneakers the other day. It really wasn’t that much of an amazing accomplishment. She took off her fucking shoes. Big woop. Instead, we should praise them for… you got it, TRYING HARD. I know I sound all Tiger Mother-y, but so be it. We are raising a nation of wussies. It’s a problem. Let’s fix it.
Oh, and let them play KICKBALL, for christ’s sake. You seriously think your kid will get mortally wounded from a game of freeze tag? Really? Fine. Then let them play video games all day and contribute to the astronomical childhood obesity epidemic. Nice move. It’s your call.