So I have recently become two things of which I am not particularly fond: a stage parent and a hockey parent. My perfect daughter (age 8 ½) is performing the part of Molly in the local high school production of Annie starting this weekend, and my youngest (age 5) recently started in developmental hockey, and is doing a skating program over the summer. I’ve spent a lot of time since high school playing in musical pits and a bit less time playing hockey of many varieties, so it’s fun and validating to see my kids having fun doing something I really enjoy. Now, to be fair, the kids’ mom has been doing the bulk of the heavy lifting in regards to the stage performance, which has been grueling and hugely time consuming. But even with the handful of rehearsals I have seen and chauffeured for, I am getting a glimpse of things from the other side.
I’m sure a lot of people have heard stories about crazy hockey dads starting fights over pee wee games and the like. And anybody who’s played a high school musical has run into the mom (usually!) who is rabid about getting her kid the lead whether they deserve it or not. The hockey parent who harasses the coach over playing time, or inserting some esoteric scheme that will highlight their kid. The stage dad who thinks the department should do Miss Liberty because their daughter is perfect for the Countess. (Ok, seriously for just a second- find me this dad. I want to have a talk with him.)
Maybe this should be a post about my transformation, coming to an understanding of their behaviors, maybe becoming a little more tolerant of a different viewpoint on the world, but it isn’t. I haven’t run into any really rabid stage parents here, which is a good thing. I have run into some less than ideal hockey parents, the guys that bang on the glass to tell their five year old to remember what he taught them at stick time, which doesn’t begin to explain why that dad isn’t out on the ice helping mold the rest of the next generation. I’ve seen probably a half dozen kids harassed by parents into crying fits which simply does not make for an auspicious start to activities that demand a certain amount of toughness and a lot of resilience. And if you think you know which one I’m talking about, you probably haven’t done the other.
If anything, the last couple of months have reinforced my stereotypes, and made me more likely to lash out against them by being reasonable and as affable as I am capable of with coaches and directors, and by telling the hockey dads as politely and good naturedly as I can muster to buzz off when they start telling me how I should be putting out the cones. The bottom line for me is that I have enjoyed the heck out of most of the time I’ve spent playing musicals and playing hockey, and now I figure my job is to try to maximize the enjoyment my kids are getting from them by using my experiences help guide them along the way. And I’ll keep an eye on the other parents to try to get some more examples of how not to do things, and maybe, if I’m lucky, a few examples of the right way.