“Good Job, But…”
By Ashly Colicchio
“Good Job, But…” There I was, five feet tall on a good day, swinging an aluminum bat with all my might. But instead of the crack of the bat, I heard the ball POP right into the catcher’s glove. And, of course, what’s the next thing I hear?
“C’mon, Ash, keep your eye on the ball! You’re dropping your shoulder; you’re stepping out!”
Which sounds like a supportive thing to say if you didn’t know my dad. The thing is, it didn’t matter. I could have hit the ball, and I still would have heard the same thing. “Good job, but you’re dropping you’re shoulder and stepping out. Next time, swing a little sooner.”
My dad is many things. But a crazy sports parent has always been number one. As a kid in Little League, he would come to my games and even help coach sometimes. It didn’t matter if he was coaching me on the field or in our driveway, it would last about 5 minutes before the yelling would start, “You’re too nonchalant! Act like you want to be here!” I didn’t even know what the word nonchalant meant, but I knew that’s what I was to my dad.
It didn’t matter what I did. Even when I threw a player out or hit a dinger out to centerfield, there was some kind of critique like, “Great hit, but you could have made it to third if you were faster.”
Please Stay Home
At about the age of 12 or 13, I just couldn’t handle the yelling anymore. I asked him (well, I asked my mom because I was too terrified of being yelled at) if he could stay home for a game. Then one game became two, and so on, until eventually, he didn’t come to many games at all. We did let him come to the bigger games and some others here and there, under the condition that he didn’t yell at me and my teammates.
It came to a point where I was too afraid to talk to my dad about anything for fear I’d be yelled at, and his constant nitpicking made me not enjoy my own sport. There was no pleasing him. No matter what I did, there would always be a “good job, but…”
To this day, I think I could cure cancer, and it would still be, “good job, but what took you so long?” And even though sometimes it may be a joke, I take it to heart every time.
Despite his constant negativity, I loved playing softball. Plus, swinging a bat as hard as I could at a ball was the only way to get out of my frustrations. So I continued to play.
Maybe I’m Not Good Enough?
In high school, you had to make varsity your junior and senior year, or you didn’t play at all, there was no JV past your sophomore year. Despite being brought up to play in the playoffs and other coaches pushing to have me on the team, I never did make varsity. This destroyed my love for the game and haunted me for years because I knew I was good enough most days of the week, so what was this guy’s deal?
I played on a travel team until my senior year. But I slacked off a lot. My passion for the game was gone, and our team wasn’t very good, so my heart just wasn’t in it anymore. As much as I considered playing in college, I figured what college would want me if I couldn’t even make varsity in high school. So, I quit after my senior year of travel ball.
It wasn’t until the age of 28 that I found out possibly the reason behind the varsity team stalemate. I always assumed the coach hated me, or maybe I truly was too “nonchalant” and just not good enough. Turns out, maybe it wasn’t me. Maybe it was my dad?
My mom told me that my dad had confronted the coach about not putting me on the team all those years ago. Lord only knows what he really said to him, but it clearly didn’t help. And even though ten years had passed, I was still livid to learn that my dad did this behind my back. Was that the real reason? Did the coach just not want to deal with my dad any more than I did?
I will never know.
It’s Not Me, It’s You
Though he meant well with his critiques and wanted me to succeed, my dad’s words stick with me to this day as I go into my 30s. I’m too nonchalant. “Good job, but…” Sadly, if you hear those three words enough, you feel like you’re never going to be good enough. I would carry that feeling into everything I did- school, work, hobbies, and even relationships with others.
Eventually, I figured out it wasn’t me that was the problem. It was my dad and his poor communication, and that would never change. I would never seem to please him, and there would always be a “but” at the end of every sentence. I learned that just because my dad doesn’t know how to communicate doesn’t mean I’m not good enough, and it certainly doesn’t mean others don’t think I’m good enough.
I may not be a parent, but I sure know from this experience that the words you choose to say to your kids have a lasting impact. It may mean nothing to you at the time, but they hear you, and they are just trying to have fun and make you happy. So the next time you decide to yell over from the sidelines, save the critiquing for another time. Just clap and say good job. No “but” this time.