My son and I had dinner last night with CJ, and his kids. We’ve known CJ for 5 months now: he started out as my daughter’s street hockey coach, and is now her soccer coach, and he’s the de facto coach of my adult kickball team. A number of us from the kickball team went out to dinner last night to celebrate our not-so-terrible loss (5-8).
Since I knew CJ was coaching two kids soccer teams, and the kickball, I asked if he was coaching 24×7. Yeah, he pretty much was, and he enjoys it, but he felt like he wouldn’t have to coach so much if only other parents would step up and help out. He detailed his family schedule which ends up being 12-18 hours at the YMCA a week (after work and on Saturdays), and that kind of schedule is starting to get a bit draining.
Initially, I felt a bit defensive. I am an active capable parent, and my kids have been in a couple of sports, and the most I do is show up, root, and provide snacks on my appointed week. But then I realized I felt much the same way about other parents and scouting. “Scouting would be so much better if only the parents were more involved” I frequently think to myself.
And then it came to me: most parents are about as involved as they can be in helping to organize and lead various attributes of their kids activities. The parents I know individually do the following: lead scout troops, lead or participate in the PTA, volunteer at the schools, coach sports, lead choirs, help at the community theater, and probably so much more. Throw into that a few struggling (or broken) marriages, caring for elderly parents, job difficulties, and who knows what other issues, and it isn’t really surprising that there aren’t more parents involved in the stuff I’m leading.
And that brings me to my point–we only know small parts of each others lives. As a coach, CJ only sees the parents on the sidelines of games and practices. As a den leader, I only see parents at scout functions. We don’t know all the other stuff (and struggles) that fill their lives.
Today, my son’s soccer team played pretty well. I’m not sure I understand their coach’s methods (can’t the offensive line help defend their goal? why should they stand idle at mid-field? oh well, I’m not the coach) but they are having fun, and Nathan felt good about how he played in the game.
One of Nathan’s teammates forgot one of his shin guards. His mother was explaining to me that he’s easily distracted and “he’s so smart.” I had to stifle a snort. When I watch him play soccer (his second season, I believe) he looks dense. He’s not terribly coordinated, and pretty slow moving, but what really gets me is he doesn’t seem to understand the game, even at a 9 year old level. He parks his butt in position and waits. If the ball comes within 5 feet, he lumbers towards it, and tries to kick after it hits his shins, if the opposing team hasn’t gone around him. When the coach tries to instruct him, he stares with a blank, angry sort of look. He doesn’t watch the ball, or the other players, and just doesn’t seem to “get it.” Like I said, he looks dense to me.
But I only see him in one narrow slice of his life. His parents are proud of him, and I think its admirable to try to get him involved in some level of physical activity even though that clearly isn’t his strength. Maybe his smartness is exhibited in other ways: math, reading, working with hand tools; I don’t know. When I watch him play soccer, and think “aw man, does the dumb fat kid have to be a forward?” I need to remember to be more charitable. I see only a tidbit of his life.