I encourage my kids to play sports. Sports are an important part of socializing our children. Sports teach the value of teamwork. We watch as our children first experience the sweet taste of victory, or the bitter taste of defeat and humiliation. We watch them learn to be coached. We watch them improve. Then, at the end of a hard fought season, we see the joy on their angelic little faces as they accept a trophy from the coach. A trophy they recieve regardless of their record. A trophy that encourages them to play again. A trophy that teaches them that losers are rewarded, too, so there’s really no need to try your best.
I am not a rabid sports fan. I do not sit in the bleachers screaming instructions at my daughter. I enjoy watching her play, but I leave the coaching to the coach. He is, after all, the coach. I do yell. I do try and encourage the team. By the end of the season, I’ll know each girl’s name and will have cheered each of them on hundreds of times. That’s what parents do.
Last night was the season opener, and there were a few delays. The bases had to be moved to the correct distance. The umpire wasn’t on time. Typical opening day girls softball stuff. They started the game 15 minutes late. It was an epic battle of horrible pitching, very little hitting, and a lot of stolen bases. That’s how 11 year olds play softball. Late in the game, about the time it should have ended had they started on time, the teams started arriving for the next game of the evening. Their parents arrived as well. That’s when she started.
“They’re late. Our game’s supposed to start now,” she said to no one in particular. Then she repeated it, louder.
Someone in the bleachers near me offered her an explanation; that the umpire was late, and we had to move the bases, and we’d be through in 15 minutes.
“That’s not my fault,” she said.
What? What the hell did you say? Not your fault? Listen you stupid bag, it’s 15 minutes. Surely, you can stand there without being a complete bitch for 15 minutes. She couldn’t.
“It’s not my fault you started late.” Again, to no one in particular, but loud enough for all.
It’s 15 fucking minutes. 15 minutes. I guarantee you’ve wasted more time than that today just being a bitch. Somewhere, at some point, something didn’t go your way and you wasted 15 minutes of your day bitching about it. My guess is you’ve wasted the better part of your life bitching about things that didn’t go your way. Look at the bright side. It’ll give your husband a few extra minutes to bang his secretary this afternoon.
“It’s not my fault.” She was hissing at this point.
Her kid was tugging at her sleeve wanting bubble gum. How could that kid think about bubble gum when the game was going to start 15 minutes late? How incredibly selfish it was to think of anything other than the 15 minutes her mother was losing through no fault of her own. Selfish or not, the kid continued to tug. Then it happened.
The cup the woman was holding spilled from her hand. Whatever beverage she’d been too mad to enjoy, something diet I’m sure, splattered all over her unnaturally tanned legs. Only at this point did the woman’s stare leave the back of the umpire’s head. She glared at her daughter. Apparently, mom’s little sweetheart had seen this look before. She was no longer asking for bubble gum. She looked terrified.
“It’s not my fault,” said the little girl.