The View From A Slightly Twisted Angle

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“Those” Parents

on October 2, 2012

I have often said that if I can get all four of our children through school and into adulthood without becoming one of “those” parents I will consider my life a success.  You know “those parents”: the ones who live vicariously through their children.  The ones whose children are never wrong, always perfectly behaved, would never lie or do something bad and if they do, well, it wasn’t their fault, it’s those other kids who influenced them.  Their offspring are the smartest, the wittiest, the prettiest most talented children on the planet.  They are raising future stars who are the best at everything. Don’t try to tell them otherwise and for goodness sake don’t let your kid do something better than their kid because they will take you OUT.  They will complain to coaches and teachers about you and your children.  They will do whatever they have to do to make sure that their child comes out on top.  Their child and what their child is doing is all that is important in the world.  Other people’s children don’t matter nearly as much as theirs do. The “those parents” phenomenon seems to be growing. Or is it that maybe “those parents” are just getting louder and more obvious?

Last Saturday we attended the first competition of the marching band season.  If you’ve never attended a marching band competition let me tell you: these are serious events. There is no moving about when the band is on the field.  No talking during the performance –  at all! In fact if you have to sneeze you better figure out how to do that without making noise.  Particularly when you are sitting near the parents of the band which is performing. If you pass gas too loudly you are going to get “a look.” This is serious stuff.  Well it is serious when your kid is on the field. When someone else’s kid is out there…eh…we can bend the rules.  In fact while other bands are playing it is perfectly acceptable to critic everything they are doing, rather loudly, and express why it isn’t as good as your band’s show.  The more “those parents” you are sitting near the louder you can be about it.  When the competition’s “those parents” start in, however, it is no longer okay.  You shush them very indignantly.  How dare they talk about another band like that?? How disrespectful!

This past Saturday I have to say I saw a new “those parents” move.  Our daughters’ band were performing when I heard a woman talking rather loudly.  She wasn’t talking about anything band related.  It sounded more like a casual conversation.  Upon looking around we discovered that a lady to the right of us was talking on her cell phone.  She wasn’t using her quiet voice and she didn’t appear to be in any hurry to end her conversation.  She didn’t.  About the time that my husband started muttering something to the effect of offering to show her a new place to store her phone the woman sitting a few rows in front of her, a parent from our band, turned around a glared at her.  The woman loudly said, “Sorry” and finished her conversation all the while gesturing at the other lady’s back.  When she finally hung up I heard her say to her husband, “It isn’t like I could  just ignore that call. I wasn’t talking that loud anyway. They can’t hear me on the field.”  No lady, but we can hear you!  A few more bands performed and the stands started filling up with band members who were waiting for the results.  Teenagers in various stages of uniform dress surrounded us. At last the “host” band took the field in exhibition. As they started a few of the teenage band members sitting behind us were chatting.  Not overly loud or obnoxiously, just general chat. They should have known better but since they weren’t from our band I chose to ignore them.  Suddenly Phone Lady whipped around and said, “You kids are being disrespectful. I’m trying to listen to my son’s band!”  Really?  Did she just do that?  She’s one of “those parents”. As we walked out of the stadium I heard lots of “those parents” complaining that their band was better than the band that won.  What was wrong with those judges? They must be prejudiced.  Sigh….”those parents”.

On Sunday our youngest son’s team played the only undefeated team in his football league.  These guys are pretty good. They also have the only kid in the 4th grade league who is bigger than our son. Our son looks like he should be in 5th or 6th grade.  This kid looked like a junior higher.  As the game started we quickly figured out we were sitting in the wrong spot.  We were surrounded by the “those parents” from the other team and there were a lot of them.  They weren’t really worried about being polite I might add.  As I watched their #52 throw my #52 to the ground well after the whistle blew – TWICE – I had to repeat to myself over and over “Don’t be one of those parents….don’t be one of those parents…”  After the third toss after the whistle our son was slow to get up.  His coach sent him out and as he was limping off I heard an opposing “those parent” yell: “Way to go! You OWNED him!”  Wow. These are 4th graders.  I refrained from walking over and asking “that parent” just what he was teaching his kid with that attitude.  In the 4th grader’s defense he came over right away when he came off the field  to make sure our son was ok.  He was.  He just wasn’t used to being thrown around that much.  He shook it off and returned to the game the next series.  By that time he had figured out he wasn’t going to out muscle the kid so he started slipping around him.  That irritated “those parents”.  They got louder and more obnoxious as the game went on.  They were behind and that was not acceptable. Toward the end of the game when the other #52 decided that since the refs weren’t really calling much he could hang on to our #52’s pads.  And throw him after the whistle blew.  He did that twice.  His team scored.  We had the ball one last time. On the final play of the game our 52 had had all he was going to take.  He grabbed the kid who stood a full head taller than him and threw him for all he was worth.  I don’t think the opposing #52 had ever been knocked over before.  The “that parent” inside me stood up and shouted – “HA! Serves you right you big thug!!”  The proper parent outside me stood and clapped and grinned at my grinning son.  Tie game. We counted it a success.  As we were walking off the field I heard one of the opposing team’s parents talking to #52 from the other team. He pointed right at our son and said, “You hurt him. Made him limp off – that’s the way you do it! You keep that up!”   I’m pretty sure if teenage sister’s glares could kill the man would be laying dead on the sideline but instead we walked by without saying a word.  As we passed he said (to us) “What’s your problem? It’s true ain’t it?”  Without bothering to acknowledge his question or correct his grammar we walked away. There is no need to engage with one of “those parents”…

Later at home I explained to my kids that there are just parents like that out there.  Parents whose only glory comes from the success of their children.  I explained for them that while I want the very best for them and while their successes make me so happy for them they aren’t my successes.  Their success or failure belongs to them.  I’ll help them any way I can but I refuse to do it for them.  I’ll support them but I will not rip apart other people’s kids to get them ahead. I will not fight their battles nor will I do their work.  I’ve already been a kid. I’ve done the teenage thing.  My young adult hood has passed.  It’s their turn now.  I don’t need them to be the best at everything to make me look good.   I’m proud of my children and the things that they accomplish but my value as a person comes from somewhere other than that.  So does theirs.  I’ve got great kids but they are just kids.  They aren’t perfect.  That’s a good thing because neither are their parents. Yep – I’ll be satisfied if I make it without being one of “those parents”….and don’t raise one of “those kids.”

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8 responses to ““Those” Parents

  1. Haha…sounds like you need to pass gas REALLY loudly around THOSE parents. Aim it in their direction and make sure they smell like twelve-week old egg salad sandwiches.
    By the way, you sound like an awesome mom!

    • wedelmom says:

      Trust me I wanted to do more than pass gas at the football game but my daughter leaned over and said, “The love of Christ constraineth me….” 😉
      Thank you. I don’t know if I’m a great mom or not. Some days I wonder… My true goal is to raise kids who remember their childhood as being happy and are secure in who they are and to Whom they belong. I feel sorry for kids of “those parents” – so much pressure to be the best. Life is too short!

      • Maybe God made us pass gas for a greater purpose. A built-in weapon of sorts. lol.
        Seriously though, I applaud your restraint!!

      • wedelmom says:

        LOL! Never thought of it that way but you may well be on to something. We have another full weekend of a competition and a football game coming up. I may have to make a big pot of chilli to prepare…. 😀

  2. momshieb says:

    Oh, my!
    You have achieved the nearly impossible: you’ve made me happy that my kids are all grown up and past all this crap! Too many memories of hockey games, football games, band concerts and PTO meetings where “those parents” made me want to kill someone!! Phew. Breathe deep! This, too, shall pass.

    • wedelmom says:

      Lol! Glad I could help you find a good thing about being an empty nester. ;). I’m guessing, though, you deal with your share of “those parents” as a teacher.

      • momshieb says:

        But its weird! If they aren’t doing anything to hurt MY child, I can laugh them off! There was a time, though, when I used to lie awake at night planning how to kneecap some of those hockey parents…….

      • wedelmom says:

        I can’t imagine. I saw a “those parent” giving a teacher what for the other day and it was all I could do not to smack her in the back of the head as I walked by. Teachers are amazing people.
        I’ve laid awake trying to figure out how to instigate a few “accidents” in the football stands myself…..

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