A short volley darts across the net. My son starts to run towards the ball. I watch intensely as he scrambles to salvage the point in a district championship tennis match. With baited breath I wait to see if he’ll get there in time. I hear someone yell out, “Get it, Kevie!” Oops! That someone was me! I thought I had my emotions under check, but the words just kind of popped out of my mouth. To put this incident into proper perspective, “Kevie,” the youngster in this photo, is now in his mid-twenties and likes to be called Kevin these days! The point I described above was played just last week. I guess not much has changed – it’s just as hard watching my kids play sports now as it was when they were young.
I thought I’d learned my lesson to “zip my lips” during sports activities when my second child started playing soccer at age five. Because he was stocky and strong, the coach assigned him to the position of goalie. Playing this position was not fun for my son because it involved long periods of time just standing around when the ball was at the other end of the field. And in my case, this was not a fun position for me to watch my child play either. Anxiously, I would keep an eye on him, the lone figure standing in front of a huge goal, trying to fend off a bunch of charging offensive players. Sometimes when the ball came down the field towards him, I would yell out, “Watch out!” or “Get it!” or “Here it comes – be ready!” Then after one particular match, he came off the field crying. Alarmingly, I said, “What’s wrong?” He sobbed, “Mom, why are you yelling at me?” I didn’t think I was yelling at him as much as I was yelling precautions to him. Lesson learned either way. No more calling out from the sidelines and if anything escaped from my mouth it was only positive reinforcement.
Three children and three sports amounted to a lot of sideline sitting. Even though, I don’t play tennis, I always tried to give them a pep talk and remind them of certain strategies before they entered the court for a match. If people asked if I played tennis, I always answered, “No, but I learned the game through osmosis.” Watching over a decade of lessons, three times over, I was bound to pick up a thing or two.
Moms are their children’s cheerleaders in life. We dream their dreams with them. We live vicariously through them. This cheerleading doesn’t automatically stop when a child turns a certain age. Whatever the endeavor and whatever the age of the child, you can bet there’s probably a mom in the background somewhere silently, or in my case not so silently, rooting for her child. Just ask my mom.