Sitting on the sidelines of Tiny Tot’s tee ball practice yesterday, I kept hearing a voice rise up behind me. It was a constant harping. A sharp, correcting tone, meant for direction, correction, and discipline. Over, and over again, this voice chirped. She was in constant awareness, in constant attack mode, in constant critique.
The sound grated my nerves, and begged me to turn around and unleash a verbal assault. Why? Because that voice, from another mother, was directed at my child–and my child, only.
“Tiny Tot, run faster toward first base.”
“Reach for the ball, Tiny Tot, go get it.”
“Tiny Tot, pay attention, or you’ll miss the catch.”
Her son played in the dirt. Her son missed the ball several times while batting. Her son didn’t catch the ball very often. Her son was playing with the other children. Her son, however, was not her concern.
“No, no, Tiny Tot, you’re not supposed to hit the ball and run to first. Coach said just hit it.”
Her son came up to bat following that correction. After hitting the ball, he dropped the bat, and ran to first base. No one said anything. Her son proceeded to hit the ball, then run to first, two more times.
She said nothing.
If she wasn’t in the mood to praise and critique her own child, what the heck was she doing, chastising and monitoring mine?
Now, I’ve already been irritated at my ex’s hyperawareness of his own child during practices and games. He’s been increasingly more annoying throughout the season. I’ve found this hilarious–hilariously aggravating. Last year, I discussed treating Tiny like a normal child on his team. He balked at first, but then agreed. During soccer, and then baseball, he commented several times about the dad coaches being too involved in where their children were, and what their children were doing. Funny how he noticed it in them, but now he’s back to doing it, again. So, along with the comments from the peanut gallery, came the comments from the coach.
“Tiny, stand up straight.”
“Why didn’t you catch that ball, Son?”
“If you would level the bat, like I’ve taught you, you wouldn’t hit the tee as much.”
“Put your hat on, Son. Leave it on.”
“Tiny, ready position. No, the ready position. The ready position, Tiny.”
Instead of a focused, maintained attention to all the children on his team, he has shifted to being overly critical of his son. That, in itself, is nothing new. But, it’s something I’ve got to start gently persuading him to see, again.
Back to that mother. It could be that she and my ex have communicated via email on numerous occasions. She might be that type of mother–the one who keeps in constant contact with the coach, asking questions, gaining insight into perfecting her son’s technique, seeing who needs to bring snacks to the games. I wouldn’t know, though. As of now, halfway through the season, I’ve still not been put on the email list.
Again, not something new.
However, this woman has never tried to communicate with me. She’s never smiled at me, she’s never spoken to me, she’s never acknowledged my presence. If she felt the need to open her mouth concerning my son’s activities during practice, shouldn’t she at least try to know the woman she’s been pissing off?
There were three adults, all related to Tiny, at that practice yesterday. The coach, the assistant coach, and me. The coach was Tiny’s dad. The assistant coach was Tiny’s uncle. And then, of course, there was me, Tiny’s mom. Tiny’s dad had Brother there. Tiny’s uncle had his son there. Both boys have special needs, so both boys needed to be monitored while the dads were busy coaching. I’ve always been the unofficial child watcher. Because I only had one phone, I gave my phone to Brother. Tiny’s cousin was entertaining himself with a new Skylander book, which he brought over to me to read to him several times. I did correct him on the rare occasion that he wandered off to knock on other children’s heads, but those moments were few and far between.
I also watched my son practice tee ball, and corrected him when I thought the need arose. “Hey, Tiny, stop swinging that bat around; you’ll hit someone.”
Now, I have known those three boys for over seven years–well, expect for mine, which has only been around for five. Since the divorce, I’ve not been a fixture in Brother or Cousin’s lives, but Cousin has always given me hugs, and I’ve watched Brother on the rare occasion that their dad needed my help. For seven years, I’ve known them, and they’ve known me.
From my perspective, if you’ve been related to my child, if you’ve been involved in my child’s life, if you’ve been a family friend, or if I love you, you have the right to correct my child. Exceptions to this rule might occur, with these two circumstances:
If my child has spoken in a mean, rude, or nasty way to you and/or your child.
If my child has done something to harm himself, you, and/or your child.
In those two instances, which cover a multitude of wrongdoings, I have given a strange person the ability to discipline my child. I wouldn’t even bat an eye. If I somehow missed my child acting in a heinous manner–which would be surprising–then he deserves a good scolding from a stranger.
Yesterday, my child wasn’t a harm to her, nor was he a harm to her child. My child wasn’t speaking to her at all, especially not with disrespect. He didn’t speak to her child in that manner, either. And yet, she harped, she controlled, and she monitored my kid.
What she should have done is tell my tiny human, “Great job,” and reserve judgement for the child she birthed.
I would have been okay with that.