Hey Know-It-All Parents…Why Don’t You Shut Up and Try It

Alex Flanagan
In Learn
By Alex Flanagan | December 29, 2015

Dear Parents,

You know how you are always yelling at me from the sidelines to run a little faster, be more aggressive, shoot, score, drive, hit the ball?  Just so you know, it’s not helping. Don’t you think I would run faster if I could?

I have an idea. How about the next time some of that superior sporting advice starts hurling out of your mouth, why don’t you get up and try it first?

Like last week, when I was guarding the other team’s tallest kid, who, oh by the way, is 10-years-old. I’m 7. Hello.  You know I’d probably be a phenom if I were playing with kids my own age, but since you brilliantly think it’s suuuuch a good idea that I play up, the height differential between my 7-year-old body and the 10-year-old I’m trying to box out is at least 2 to 1.

I know, I know. The competition is going to make me better.

How about we try this. Why don’t you come out here and stand here under the basket next to someone twice your size, like you keep screaming for me to do, and see what it’s like getting continuously nailed by a series of endless elbows to the mouth. It’s not like you can’t see that my 2nd grade face is right about the height of that 4th grader’s elbows.

Like that isn’t bad enough, you actually then have the audacity to urge me at half-time to “Be more aggressive” as if you think I LIKE taking blows to the face. I should have just nodded and said “okay,” like I usually do, but instead I decide you might actually be able to handle the truth. It’s so Obvious. So I get real with you and shoot you straight. “He’s a much better player. He’s too big for me to guard. I can’t be any more aggressive,” I say. “oh no,” I think to myself  the minute I let that can’t word leave my lips. I could tell by how your eyes grew wide that a teachable moment was now just around the corner.

“Prepare for it,” I think to myself as I climb into the car after the game. I don’t get it though. Why are you in such a bad mood now? I know my team lost, but the post-game popsicles that Robbie’s mom handed out after the game were awesome. Why didn’t they make you feel better too?

“Focus,” I tell myself. “Don’t talk back,” I think. I know if I do, you won’t let me go over to John’s house to play Xbox later or you’ll take away my iPad. Now here comes the lesson. I can’t wait to hear this one. “If you say you can’t, you won’t, if you say you can, you will,” you say. Whatever that means.

What I want to say back to you is, “So let me get this straight. I just got clobbered and the best you can come up with is some sort of wanna be John Wooden post-game speech?” I wish I could tell you to save it. I wish I could show you my deep eye roll. I wish I could tell you most everything in life is easier said than done!  But instead I bite my tongue. And hope. That somehow, somewhere, you’ll find the wisdom to see sports through my eyes and for Pete’s sake…let me just be a kid!


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