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.**