MOVarazzi

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

813. I Want My Kids To Be Mediocre

We joined our pool because it is three blocks from our house.  We go there to splash around and cool off.  Some people go for a different reason:  to compete. 

Tall is now eight years old, and Short is six.  The Husband and I figure that they have their whole lives to compete, why burn them out now?  We are, apparently, the only parents in a three-mile radius who feels this way. 
Yesterday evening after The Husband got home from work, we changed into swimsuits and headed over.  He and the boys got right in, while I sat in a patio chair watching them.  Immediately to my right was a mom coaching her daughter.  Her daughter was seven years old, muscular and tan.    

The coaching went beyond being “helpful” and “encouraging.”  This mom made her daughter aware of her every transgression, real or imaginary.  It went something like this: 
“Lucy!  Keep your legs together.  Lucy!  Better to belly flop than go deep.  Lucy, now shake your hands out.  No.  Not like that.  Come back here.  You were doing so much better yesterday, what happened?  Watch me.  See?  Like this.  No.  Do it again.  No, that’s wrong.  Watch.  Like this.  Lucy!  I want you to get this so we can focus on speed tomorrow.  Do it over, Lucy.  Right now.” 

If Michael Phelps himself was the one standing there and giving instructions, I might’ve been inclined to listen.  But this mom was overweight, wearing shorts and a t-shirt (instead of a swimsuit), and looked like she’d never swum a day in her life.  Everything she was “demonstrating” was not exactly the best form I have ever seen.    
“Lucy, in the relay, who is going to be after you?  Isabel?  Okay.  And who is right before you?  Madeline?  Hmm.  Well.  All right, I guess we are stuck with that line-up.  What I want you to do now is streamline.  Do this.  Ready, go!  That was better, a little better.  Try it again.  Remember how I showed you this morning?  Do that.” 

This went on for over an hour.  Over an hour! 
When Tiger Swim Mom was at the edge of the pool for the 837th time, I was ready to push her in.  I had fantasies about walking behind her on my way to the diving board and faking some sort of “accidental” trip where I would bump into her and she would tumble into the deep end.  I would feign clumsiness (very believable if you’ve ever met me), apologize profusely, then keep walking. 

I am all for encouraging kids.  Really, I am.  My sons play soccer, and I have morphed into one of those moms who sits on the sideline cheering, “Take the ball, take the ball, it’s yours!”  How is that any different?  Well, during soccer season, my sons practice once/ week.  Unless it rains, and then they don’t practice at all.  Soccer has not inhabited our lives; soccer does not walk into our living room, sit on our sofa, pour itself a glass of wine, and demand the Sports Page.  Soccer knows when to go home. 
I want my children to succeed, but not to the point where it is their obsession.  Maybe I should rephrase that:  Not to the point where my obsession becomes their obsession. 

All these thoughts were crashing around in my brain while I sat next to the pool. 
Tall shouted out,
“Mom, look at me!  Watch me do a handstand!” 

I gave him a thumbs-up. 
And I didn’t even make him do it over. 


MOV

31 comments:

  1. I couldn't agree with you more MOV! And, Tall's handstand is awesome (my 8yo did one like that just the other day and it was awesome too!)

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  2. I agree as well, MOV. See me being serious, here...it doesn't happen often but I am dead serious when I say that all this pushing children to be a superstars 24/7 isn't healthy for the parents or the children. There is a huge difference in the scenarios between you and that bit**...uh...I mean mom, I think getting kids involved in things and supporting their efforts vs. that mom trying to micro-manage her kid's every move...huge difference.

    I, too, fantasize when I am near people like that. You just wanted to push her in. God, your sweet. I would of been visualizing me dunking her and when she comes up for air, I'd say things like...you really should optimize your breathing...(dunk)...you might want to do more breathing and less gasping (dunk)

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  3. So she not only ruined her daughter's day, but everyone else in the vicinity.

    I bow to your willpower. I would have "tripped".

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  4. This is absolutely one of the best things you've written. Maybe it's because I feel so strongly about it as well. Let children be children! You only get to be a child once and I think you should enjoy the heck out of it!

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  5. Such a great and true post! I've seen this time after time in every sport possible. Parents living the dream through the kids.

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  6. Couldn't agree more. Thank you for this. Love the picture of the headstand, by the way. I remember when my daughter was a toddler and after the first day of swimming lessons she refused to get back in the water. I couldn't get a refund so I just decided we'd show up every day and she could sit on the side of the pool with her feet in the water and watch. I was fine with it but I tell you the other parents looked at me like I was nuts. They were dragging their screaming kids and practically drowning them in that kiddie pool. Screaming at them to work harder. Very sad. The best part was that after four weeks, on the very last day, my kid decided she was ready, got in the pool with the instructor and proceeded to do everything the teacher had taught the other kids. She did it her way and it all worked out fine. She loves to swim now. She's 11.

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    1. great story! kids seem to thrive on their own, whether we push them or not. :)

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  7. I couldn't agree more. A friend of mine was telling me how her mother-in-law was pushing her to teach her daughter a foreign language... and her daughter is two.

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  8. That's the last time I take my kids to practice at your pool. (;

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    1. ha! I know you have sons, though. :)

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  9. Great post! We need more parents like you - letting their kids have fun and giving them a smile and a thumbs-up!
    Parents: Just let your kids be kids - stop living your failed dreams through them.

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  10. Here, here! I. Also have a feeling you do not shout negative things at your kids on the soccer field. Theree are so many cars I am glad I am not gettinginto when we leave the field on game day. I also think coaches should be allowed to play their role (provided a huge portion of it is to insure happy fun times!)

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  11. Right on, MOV! The people pushing their children like that are usually obese coconuts with little more than a perfect vacuum between their ears, trying to relive their defective, inept, lazy childhoods by pushing,even abusing their children to be 'better' than they were.
    Advice to idiot Olympic-used-to-Wannabe's, grow UP and learn; you failed at YOUR "perfect" childhood; you don't have to fail at ADULTHOOD and PARENTING TOO!

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  12. I would be quite tempted to tell that mom to shut the hell up, but if I did, she might sit on my and squish me.

    Love,
    Lola

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  13. I agree. Anytime I hear of a parent behaving that way I just think that they are projecting their own agenda onto the child which isn't fair. You can't tell me that that seven yr old wouldn't rather be splashing around in the water with friends than hear her mother correct her form over and over.

    Of course it's a completely different story if it's teaching your kid how to fix yourself a nice cocktail. I mean, they need to learn that when I say stiff, I mean stiff!

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  14. That is the best water handstand I have ever seen.

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  15. Good for you. I am very glad that I was never pressured by my parents to practice sports every day and that it was my choice not to go pro in baseball, soccer, hockey, or any of the other sports in which I was totally amazing.

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  16. THAT IS A GREAT HANDSTAND HE SHOULD GET A RIPPON FOR IT OOPS THATS NOT RIGHT YOU HAVE THE AWARD COMING TO YOU FOR COMPETING IN THE GREAT BLOGOSPHERE WONDERFULNESS SO CONGRATS AND JUST IGNORE THOSE MOMS OR THEY WILL GET YOU 5 TO 7 IN JAIL UM YEP THEIR THAT ANNOYING YOU'LL SLAP A BITCH OOPS I MEAN CHICK.

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  17. I agree with you 100%. And I didn't think this type of thing would ever effect me, because I am NOT an athlete, at all. Never played any sports, have no glory years to relive, or any school records my kids must live up to. However, the day my daughter received her "Young Author's Conference" invite, I have to admit, I kind of freaked... LOL. But it was not the same as what you are talking about. Because I was so proud of HER, and HER accomplishments. Somehow, with the "sports" parents, it isn't even about their kids, it's all about them!

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  18. I was deeply attacking the picture with my eyes, just praying for a reflection of you in the pool. No such luck.

    I also love that you used the word "swum".

    You're the best mom ever, duh.

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  19. It is so "all about them." Can you imagine the over-corrected kid as a teenager? Rebel, rebel, rebel.

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  20. So True :( It is so sad to see parents that have forgotten that sports are supposed to be fun. I have yet to put either child in sports, and they are 3 and 4. In theory, I am WAY behind. I am considering soccer for the older one this year. We did try flag football through the church preschool. It was hilarious, but similar to watching cats being herded through the grass. After that initial experience, I decided to wait another year. I think I would have knocked that lady into the pool as well...

    http://mommypluscoffee.blogspot.com/2012/07/mommys-night-out.html
    -Heidi

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  21. I made a point to be very mediocre when it came to sports so my parents didn't have to worry about whether or not they should push me.

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  22. It's a nice idea, until you're 20 and can't swim a width. Maybe we should push kids a little (into the deep end, then we can leave em alone).

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    Replies
    1. great point. I am all about balance and moderation. I want my kids to swim, but not feel like I am micro-managing their every move.

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  23. I know just what you mean. When I take mine to archery, I sit as far away from him as possible with a nose stuck in a kindle.

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