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Don't be THAT Parent

There was a time I honestly thought being thirty years old meant embracing your middle age.  I remember, very clearly, when my uncle, only 13 years older than me, turned 30 and I actually mourned for his youth. Because I was an obnoxious teenager who clearly needed to be slapped upside the head.

Now that I'm firmly rooted in my thirties, 35 for all of those who are curious, I know longer believe hitting 30 means the death of your youth. That only happens when you turn 50.

(Note to self: When you hit 50 you'll know that my 35 year old self wasn't much brighter than my 17 year old self and clearly needed to have some sense knocked into her. However, since I'm still 15 years off from that age, I stand by my youthful (heh) ignorance.)

In my head, I still feel young. Ish. That is, when my back isn't aching and my knees aren't creaking. And I'm not looking in a mirror and witnessing what can only be described as middle aged droop. I may not look as good as I once did but darn it all, I believe in make belief and it was only yesterday my butt cheeks were firm, my boobs were perky and chin whiskers only happened to old ladies named Bertha.

But something else has happened as the sands of time trickled through my hourglass and time stamped it's presence on my body. I've accrued some wisdom. Not a lot, but enough that I can comfortably say I'm smarter than my teenaged children think I am.

I now have the wisdom to respect my body and understand it's limitations. I can no longer put my feet behind my ears and wiggle across the room on my arse cheeks. (Sigh. Twas a party trick every girl should have.) I know now, that sometimes, no matter how young we feel in spirit our bodies just aren't what they once were.

Youth is fleeting and we should embrace it while we have it. Or so I tell myself as I'm dragging a sled up a snowy hill while carrying a child. Because one day I'll wish I was young enough to trudge up a snow covered hill to show the youngsters how to successfully hurl oneself down a steep hill. And why these days I tell my kids to suck it up, back in my day I had to walk to school, up hill, both ways, barefoot, in snow six feet deep no matter the month. Because I am old enough now to say it with some authenticity.

What time and age has also taught me along this path to well, death, is that not every adult transitions from their youthful grace to their aged selfs with well, dignity.

I've learned this over the past decade as a spectator of various children's sporting activities. Soccer, volleyball, basketball, hockey and even dance class. Some parents have confused their children's youth with their own.

There is nothing quite as painful as witnessing a middle aged person try and live vicariously through the efforts of their child. Which is why I try to only do this within the comfort and privacy of my own home. So that other adults won't witness my folly and then run home to blog about it like I'm currently doing now.

I'm all for recapturing any sliver of youthful glory I can. I want to prolong this part of my life, the part where I can still touch my toes and not being eligible for a senior citizen discount, for as long as possible and I don't begrudge any adult for feeling the same. Because deep down inside, we all feel a heck of a lot younger than we look.

But that doesn't mean I'm seriously not going to shake my head and offer to put a boot up your arse when you are sitting on the sidelines of your child's sporting game, screaming obscenities at children not related to you and pressuring your child to perform better.

I hate to break it to you but kids aren't circus animals. I know because I've tried tossing peanuts at them to get them to balance a spoon on their nose and they just rolled their eyes at me.

How about instead of crashing your child's memories in the making you relive your own glory days quietly like the rest of us do? Feel free to play in an adult league of a sport of your choosing where you are surrounded by men and women fighting the aging process with good old fashioned sweat. Or take the lazy way out and just regale your children with tired stories of your own past greatness and achievements like I try to do on a nightly basis?

Cheer your child on, but remember, they are children. Playing with other people's children. My children. And as a parent, I'd like to keep my kids children for as long as possible. I want them to learn and improve and yes, dammit, watching them benefit from a win every now and then would be nice since I'm the one schlepping their arses to and from practices and games in buttfark rural Alberta. But I don't want them to learn unsportsmanlike conduct from the parents in the stand. Nor do I want any child to get jeered at by an angry adult who obviously wasn't breast fed long enough as an infant.

And if you jeer at my kid I'll kick your butt. Even if I have to use my cane to do it.

Like I tell my kids every time they leave our house: You aren't just representing yourself when you go somewhere. You are representing your family and your community. I've often wondered if parents forget this applies to themselves as well. You are a representing your kid, your kid's school and your community when you plant your arse in a bleacher at their sporting events so grab a bucketful of common sense and a bushel of dignity and act with the type of class you'd want your child to behave with.

Or, if you're like me, shake some pompoms and make sure to cheer for all the kids.

Because if you're going to be known for being a jackass, be the better jackass. The ones the kids won't want to beat to death with a bat as you sleep the night before a big game.

Plus. Pompoms. It's like reliving your youth but with better accessories.

*Feel free to relive your youth in the comments section. It's never too late to brag about YOUR glory days. How awesome were you as a child athlete? Or you know, go nuts and rat out that annoying sports parent you totally want to smother when you go to your kids games. Because I know those people are EVERYWHERE.*

**Also, Camrose parents? This is totally dedicated to you.**
« Follicular Follow Up | Main | Oh Ya, I'm a Teenage Dream »

Reader Comments (60)

Camrose parents! Awesome.

Have you been going to my Daughters soccer games?

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBrian McMorran

I hate those parents. I hate the lessons that it teaches to the younger children. It teaches the teens that they can be assholes and there are no consequences. When my oldest was in HS there were a group of moms that lived for the girl drama of the cheer squad and regularly created their own. It was embarrassing.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterHeadless Mom

[...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tanis Miller. Tanis Miller said: New post up. Dedicated to all the asshole parents at their kid's sports games. http://bit.ly/gG8LWu [...]

I think you should have included some of your tweets as they have been priceless on this subject lately. I'm wholeheartedly with you on this one. My kids are yet too young to witness this behavior, but that's because they are 3 & 4 and not yet in organized sports and it will be a while, be damned, before they are for this reason!

Down here in Alabama it's frightening, there are kids at 5 yo tee ball and soccer games being screamed at by the parents. (I can't wait to see what they will turn out by junior high.) I've got a guy at my office that constantly tells me about how my life will change when my kids get his kids age (7 & 10 WOW) referencing this and I want to slap him with my - HELL NO Buddy - hand every time, because he is one of these parents. I wonder do they even realize how ridiculous they are and what they are doing to their kids?

A video as witness to such behavior would be a great follow up post for those that haven't recognized it among them, or maybe are in denial of it *shudder*.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSarah

Oh we have some of those parents in rural Ontario too. They magically morph from soccer field to hockey rink to bottom of the ski hill. They are the ones who didn't make it themselves and are trying to make up for it by pushing their own kids. Guess what? Your kid isn't going to the NHL or the World Cup or the Olympics and neither is mine and that's okay. I find sitting with the opposing team's parents helps. At least their yelling isn't directed at our side.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCid

Our son quit soccer after the other parents starting yelling at him because he missed a pass. (He's got Aspergers). They also screamed at him because he kissed a little girl on the cheek. He was 6 at the time. Since then I've been scared to let him do any group sports. It's bad enough when other kids pick on him, but his self-esteem doesn't need parents jumping in on it too.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKeri@GlamorousArmy

What makes me really sad, is...if these boneheads act like that in public, with everyone and their dog there to see, how do they act at home? If they can get belligerent in front of parents, teachers, and anyone else, like they do, is it worse at home? What kind of expectations do their kids have hanging over them? Perfection? Yeah, cuz that will happen.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMonica

People who leer at disabled children need to have their arses kicked.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterThe Domestic Goddess

I am not at the point of organized sports for my kids yet, but I will remember this when the time comes. I do see these parents and wonder what is actually going through their heads as they are spewing their hate all over the place.

And of course it is very obvious that these are the people who were not breastfed long enough!! LOVE IT!!

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNatasha

All this talk about the crazy sports parents and their expectations of perfection is putting me in mind of the recent book from the Yale Professor, "Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother" (review here: http://www.boston.com/community/moms/articles/2011/01/18/the_tiger_mother_roars_and_slacker_parents_shudder/)

Scary scary stuff...

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGurukarm (@karma_musings)

I have had the pleasure of watching my youngest grandson play youth football for the past three years. When the team was first formed, the head coach met with the parents and told them if they couldn't behave themselves, they would be escorted out of the game. This year I got to hear the opposing teams parents, in unison, taunt the kids with the cheer "if you can't beat 'em, cheat 'em". I couldn't believe what I was hearing. My grandson's team parents didn't take the bait. Good for them. The other team ended the season winning first place, but at what cost? What did they really learn?

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDorothy

First, having sat through eons of my stepdaughters CC meets/basketball games (9mos pregnant, thank you hard wooden bleachers on that one)/track meets, I know EXACTLY which type of parent you're talking about. Sone of them even coach, making it far worse. Ugh. I remember the first CC meet I attended where I saw parents running to each checkpoint to call put their child's split times IN CODE so competitors didn't know how well they were/were not doing. It wasn't the code that baffled me as much as the fact that the parent spectators were running too. Jeez. Take a load off. Drink a mug of hot cider (with rum for me). STAND at the finish line and let the coach (gasp) do their job.

Now she's all growed up and off on her own adventures while we're raising our nearly 4 year-old son. We got a flyer in the mail for soccer leagues the other day. They went as young as 24 months. Really?! Just shoot me now. I took one look at my happy, klutzy, playing in the dirt kid and tossed the flyer in the trash. Let all that wait a while. He needs to be a kid right now.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I was a junior umpire in Netball. I was 13, players were 8-9. A father, unhappy with a call I made against his daughter, he picked up his folding chair and threw it at me (missed thankfully).

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMardi

OMG right? I was completely stunned at some of the things some parents had to say while our girls were involved in various activities/sports/etc. I mean, it was un-freaking-believable. And they said in front of people and children. Where people could hear them. And they didn't care. WTH?! The older the kids got, the worse it got. The better the athlete, the worse it got. We went to a game that DD2's boytoy at the time was playing in and they had to eject the coach and break up a fist fight between two fathers. And the kids were high school seniors. I will say though, that the boys showed far more maturity than any of the parents there on that particular day.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPam

I'm wayyy too young to take part in this discussion, but back in the glory days of high school (cough, cough... sevenyearsago...) I was I giant track nerd. I won most half-mile races and quarter mile races (only 59 seconds, WOOO glory days!!!) that I ran.

One meet, we were up against our big rival school-- the gun went off, and all of a sudden there was an impermeable wall of slow-running girls in front of me. Their fastest chick took off ahead, but I couldn't get through. As we rounded the corner, their coach was screaming at them "That's right!! Cut her off! Cut her off!!"

No sh*t.

I got one of the worst times of my life and it took everything I had not to hurl my spiked running shoes at that dipsh*t f*&^$# coach for the rest of the afternoon.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterApril

My husband is not allowed to speak at soccer practice. He had no idea he was THAT parent. But he is. I, on the other hand, spend my time alternatively hating soccer moms and wishing they would talk to me. Which is kinda like reliving my youth. Except I'm not drunk.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAlex@LateEnough

It's sad to see that school sports are just as bad as hockey and soccer. This year in calgary, the parents of every player in the city had to take a sensitivity class/write and exam before their child was allowed to play. In my son's soccer league, at every game each team must assign a marshall to sit in the stands and keep an eye on "problem" parents. Our coach actually puts together a list of expectations for the parents to follow. This year, it also included "no coaching from the sidelines" and "only positive, encouraging cheering from the stands" because of a few incidents last season with my son's father. I've also had some run ins with other parents when I've told them to shut their pie holes and just let the kids play. It's amazing to me how childish adults can be.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersherri

I am so not that parent, and with about a decade on you youngun', I've added an element to the game: I call out parents on being jackasses. Coaches too. I'm vocal and make no apologies for letting these nutjobs know they're out of line; first with humor, then with kind needling, then with full-on assault. I have a rep now, with my youngest of 4 neck-deep into lax, soccer, and hoops.
I can guarantee these parents never made a team in their entire life. That is a sure thing.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterkathykate

My daughter isn't in organized sports, but she is in ballet and an arts school. I think these same parents show up at her events too.

They are the parents that hold loud conversations only during the times their own child isn't on stage. They are the ones that snort when a 6 year old gets stage fright and takes a moment to get started. They are the ones who have the utter gall to mock a 6th grade boy who has the courage to sing solo in front of a crowded gym full of audience members. They are the ones who let senior citizens stand while they park their lazy arses in a front row seat (and let a 4 yr old also have a chair instead of letting them sit on the floor cushions provided for them). They are the ones that don't turn off their phones or flashes on the camera and need to be told repeatedly to do so.

Such lack of respect to model to our children. I wish I had the nerve you do Tanis... It'd be worth trying to figure out how to maneuver a cane over a snowbank if it meant I could use said cane to give 'em a good swift knock in the back of the head.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCc

Gawd...I hate those parents!!!!!! My kids ask me why I cheer for EVERY goal, touchdown, award...etc. that comes up no matter who did it. I just figure why not?

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterCindy King

Try booking refs for little kid hockey games. Not easy when the refs ( who are kids themselves) get screamed at by parents in the stands. It's always extra lovely when some idiot is screaming at his 9 year old son to "hit that little bastard" when there is no contact allowed in atom hockey. Parents at hockey games make me sad....

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKaren

Amen sista!!!

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDiana

I've never commented on any blog posts but have been a lurker on and off (a nice kind of lurker not a nutcase one!). Anyway, I have to comment this time. You are so TOTALLY RIGHT on this one.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSoccer/ballet mom

AMEN AND AMEN - we have a School Board Member's wife heading to court for yelling that she'd pay $500 to have the football coach killed and stuff done to his "man bits" (my words not hers).

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

I'm just gonna second that amen because I couldn't have said it better.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBecky

Age is really just a number.The moment you get old is the moment you have children. You get old then because you have to.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGTR

Can we dedicate this to Stony Plain parents as well???? My fave is the 40 something moms who try to dress/ act like their teenage daughter. I've specifically asked my husband to kick me in the box if I start wearing age inappropriate attire. Hmm, perhaps I should rephrase that to him. His eyes kinda lit up...Anyway, well said.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLeanne Moffat

My glory day: I had dates with 4 boys in one day.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGrandeMocha

I agree completely!!! Especially about the kids representing their family, school etc., the other day I was watching my daughter's Jr. High basketball game, and in the doorway to the gym, only 6 feet from me, my family, and others, there were teenage boys hollering and making inappropriate sounds, I told them to please shut up, but they didn't hear me, then my husband told then, one turned, looked at him and told him to shut up!!! I couldn't believe it!!! They then went to the other door to the gym and sat there!! If my kids or their friends EVER did anything like that, they would never leave the house again with out supervision!! BTW my kids are 15(boy) and 12(girl)

Thanks for another great post Tanis!!!

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterShauna Baron

Figure skating moms are the worst. They cheat to get their kids with the best instuctor/best times instead of waiting their turn to register.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterGrandeMocha

Bravo, Tanis, and a hearty "Testimony, out there!" Well said, and I raise my glass to you...'cause I'm too lazy to stand up and cheer :)

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterIrish Gumbo

Woot! Say it LOUD! Good for you for saying something. It never fails to blow my mind how nasty some people can be. I'm a former (for a reason) junior high coach. You would not believe how many times I was yelled at for not playing such and such more. Or letting those darn first year kids play. *gasp* shocking I know - wanting to play the entire team on a school sponsored team - so they could, you know, learn. (A team that was small because it belonged to a small country school. Not like we were chasing Nationals here.)

Ooops - rambling on. Hit upon a major peeve of mine....

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrea

Oh gawd... I only have a 2yr old so we're not there yet, but heaven help me if I have to face this.
I didn't play organized sports as a kid, being more into solitary stuff like sailing, swimming, skiing etc and not competitively so I missed out on this scene growing up. What a shame. ;)

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Oh gawd... I only have a 2yr old so we're not there yet, but heaven help me if I have to face this.
I didn't play organized sports as a kid, being more into solitary stuff like sailing, swimming, skiing etc and not competitively so I missed out on this scene growing up. What a shame. ;). It's hard to believe people can be such idiots. (Okay, not really, but...)

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen

Amen amen amen...well done, Tanis!

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie Harper

I'm 38, will be 39 in less than a month. Sometimes I still feel like I'm in my mid-twenties. Within the next six days I'll be having a baby (my second - first has just turned eight) - either because she's made her way out via the tunnel-o-love-and-other-indoor-sports or because she's dragging her feet and the surgeon has lent a hand.

I haven't had any glory days, yet, unless you count being a mum...and they don't give out pom-poms for that (at least not here in Redneck Central)...but hope springs eternal...

Shade and Sweetwater,
K (who would be the mum cheering on every kid, even the ones on the other team, because it's all about the play for her and not the win...which may explain why she has no glory days to speak of)

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKyddryn

Sadly I'm so old I no longer remember my glory days (the alcohol has NOTHING to do with that) and my daughter is too young to be in organized sports, but I still feel compelled to comment...
Oh, and those parents? I want to junk punch them.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterNeeroc

I'm not 30 yet!! neenerneenerneener!!!

But I will be in 2 months and 10 days... :(

The best parts of my youth were spent on stage... I was one of THOSE nerds- the choir-joining, dance classing, musical theater nerds... one of the nerds even nerds made fun of!! Because not only was I a nerd- but I was a nerd in front of other people!! I made an ass of myself in PUBLIC!!!

so um... yeah- I would have to say that although I no longer perform on stage- I AM still living my glory days by making a complete and utter ass of myself by dancing in public... :D

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterPottyMouthMommy

Camrose? Really? Dang!

By the way, you should have a "Like" button here because LIKE!

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterWinn

I used to live in Camrose and I am on your side. Parents that act that way at children's sporting events should be forced to play(insert least favorite sport here) in a lime green speedo in front of a room full of high school students on Red Bull. Talk about abuse. Love your blog.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterOld Dog

I harbor a silent guilt. My kids don't "do" sports.

One tried lacrosse when he was 5 and spent the better part of "practice" performing some form of interpretative dance on the back 9. Soccer happened at one point, but nobody liked Gatoraid or running. The oldest...now a Sophmore has signed up for track because "even if I drop out I'll be looking good in my size 6's by summer."

You know how people are all "I run my kids everywhere like craaazy" well, I don't. We never really got into that habit (partly due to one kid who had a lot of doctor's appointments) Our evenings and afternoons get spent wandering or sitting in the creek or playing video games together or trying to figure out what the dog ate to make it's barf smell so ripe. Yeah, we do "other" stuff.

...I may have to continue this train of thought elsewhere, lol you've got me thinking.

Rock on, I like reading your blog!

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRebecca

A-FREAKIN-MEN! Leanne Moffat I'm SO with you on that one!(in both location and opinion) I take my niece to school or pick her up and quite often find myself wondering why those "girls" are picking up little kids...then look again and see age stuffed into the outfits bought at Garage. Ugh.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristine

Good job, Tanis! I love your blogs:) Having raised 5 kids, I've been there.. done that! I hate those 'my kid is better than that kid .. why isn't he playing more?' My kids are grown now with kids of their own .. and we ALL still cheer for ALL the kids that are out there having fun.. One boy on our grandson's hockey team, even denied he 'knew' his Mom! .. some parents shouldn't be parents .. just sayin'.. Camrose ain't the only one in Alberta with obnoxious fans .. we got 'em here too:)

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterLadyinGrey

That's pretty much why we all hunker at home and don't go out anywhere. So I can sit them down, put on some dance music and embarass the crap out of them by waving my booty and singing along with the deep throated rapper. Nah, I don't do that. But I totally see you BUSTED the Camrose parents...God love 'em.

January 19, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMarcia

You know what I love about being in my 30s? I can wear a toque and not feel like a dork.

I realize in Alberta (because I lived in Edmonton) even kids wear hats regularly, because, um, they value their ears. But in Ottawa, you can probably survive without one on all but the bitterest days. Which means you're a dork if you wear a hat. There's a 13-year-old who stands at our bus stop in the morning and she refuses to wear a hat, just like I did.

But now I can. I pretend it's to set a good example for my 5-year-old, but really it's because I like being warm. And I don't care any more if she thinks I'm a dork.

And yeah, there's parents like that everywhere, wondering why their particular little princess isn't at the front of the pack for the "ballet" show etc...

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJuliette

Ooo don't get me started on Sports Parents. I grew up in a baseball family. I played softball, my three younger brothers played baseball and both of my parents either coached or were on the Board of Directors for the Little League. Thankfully, my folks were great. As long as we tried our best and learned from our mistakes and had FUN, it was all good. But I've seen THOSE parents. I saw them when my dad coached and I saw them years later when my son played Little League. Those horrible people who don't seem to realize where they are. At a KID'S SPORTS GAME!!! I actually saw a guy who got so pissed about his kid not being in the entire game, he threatened my father with physical harm! Never mind that there were league rules about how long a 7 year old can be in the game or that my dad was a good 12 inches taller than this man...I mean come on! Really?

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDumblond

Coached youth baseball for 25 years. Experience with the kids? 98% positive. Experience with the parents? 80% positive.The loon factor seems to grow with age.

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered Commentersteve shilstone

Wait, I'm still stuck on the part where you say you feel old at 35. Woman, please. I just turned 44 and have decided to dive headlong into a full-blown midlife crisis. Next up: red sportscar and 20-something boy toy. Don't tell my husband.

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterStephanie Smirnov

A couple things. First I am with you 100% on everything you said except I only know it as an adopted aunt. I have no children of my own but used to go to games of my best friend's kids. There are too many parents that try to bring kids. Their own kids and strangers kids. Grow up!! Second, I'm so in the boat of feeling younger than I am. I feel 17 most times, until I try to move and then I feel closer to 75, when in reality I'm 36. Oh how we learn.

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAngie_stl

[...] more: Don't be THAT Parent @ Attack of the Redneck Mommy This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged arses, kids, kids-children, long-as-possible, [...]

January 20, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDon't be THAT Parent @ At

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