Take me out to the ballgame! Or literally anywhere, really. I just need to get out of the house.
I’ve actually been super involved with NCAA football lately for a project I’m working on and it occurred to me that parenting really isn’t that different than coaching organized sports. Here’s what I’m thinking:
1. No matter how good a job you do, some armchair quarterback is going to think he or she can do a better job and won’t be able to keep this opinion to themselves. You’re the coach, though. They can’t make you care. Shake it off.
2. You send your charges out into the world with all the safety equipment and protection available and hope it will be enough. Most of the time it is. Sometimes they get boo boos on their hearts and you have to sit on the sidelines and help them feel better.
3. Your people generate an obscene amount of laundry that smells really bad.
4. You practice, practice, practice and sometimes, it still doesn’t turn out right on game day. All you can do is regroup, pick your toddler off the floor and try harder next time.
5. You have to motivate your people to overcome impossible odds, get them outside their comfort zone and perform like they never have before. You coach them through seemingly insurmountable challenges like getting through an entire road trip without asking ARE WE THERE YET?!
6. You spend a lot of time making sure people are hydrated for optimal performance. Sometimes they dunk what you give them on their heads. Snacks are also an integral part of the culture.
7. Sometimes your charges are easier to track by number than by name. Hey, you, #3, that was offside! PUT THE CAT DOWN.
8. You have to accommodate a lot of superstitious rituals. Outside the athletic realm, this involves things like the frequency of washing the blankie or sandwiches that must be cut into triangles, not squares.
9. It’s white-knuckle-exciting-how-is-it-going-to-turn-out while you wait to see if all the preparations you went through are going to leave you victorious – whether it’s the game winning touchdown or getting through a night without wetting the bed.
10. Win or lose, you’re held responsible. Some days this feels really unfair. It’s important to remember you’ve done your best.
Sports and parenting are both exciting and in the end, we all love to cheer for our charges. All we can do is sit back and enjoy the game before the season draws to a close.