Dear Mrs. Beauregarde,
I don’t know you’re real name but I give nicknames to people who I “people watch” and you earned the nickname Mrs. Beauregarde. Mrs. Beauregarde is the all-or-nothing; “keep your eye on the prize” mother of Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie. The new Charlie and The Chocolate Factory with Johnny Depp not the Willy Wonka movie with Gene Hackman, I have to clarify because my husband likes the original and my daughter likes the new one. I was a geek and read the actual book.
Mrs. Beauregard, you caught my attention at what is hopefully my very last ever soccer tournament. You weren’t a parent on my field you were on a field behind me, and technically two fields away but I could hear you. What caught my attention, and several other people’s attention, was your screaming at the top of your lungs “Get Open! Get Open! Don’t let her push you like that! Push Back! OH MY GAWD, follow your shot… FOLLOW YOUR SHOT!” When I turned around I expected to see a USWNT World Cup qualifying match. But what I saw was little girls – like I would have said they were eight year old little girls, but my son informed me that the tournament was U11 and up. So ten-year old little girls, I was off a bit. For fun, and because it was halftime, I actually turned my chair around and started watching you.
You were sitting near the 15 yard line (yes there are yard lines in soccer – they aren’t marked but they are there) and every time your child’s team got near the goal you were out of your seat yelling. You would scream all sorts of directions to poor little Violet, telling her to use her left foot, dribble more, dribble less, and for God’s sake FOLLOW YOUR SHOT! Um…. She’s ten. If she can use her left foot to shoot she’s probably already got coaches lining up to sign her because even my left-handed 18-year-old son struggles with shooting left footed. And the whole follow your shot thing, it’s a great idea, but again she’s ten and is probably tired and knows she now has to run back to play defense.
In all fairness, Mrs. Beauregarde, it’s all about perspective. You are at the beginning of your child’s soccer “career” and this is quite possibly even your first season. I am at the end, or at least the end of travel soccer and I have a lot of experiences to reflect back on. I’m not going to lie and say I’ve never yelled at a soccer game because I have, but usually I’m yelling things like “Watch your mouth! Was that yellow card really worth it? Retaliation always gets the foul.” and again “Watch your mouth!” And truth be told I don’t usually yell, I wait until he’s near me on the field so I can say it at a reasonable volume. Mostly because I know that screaming at the very top of my lungs means that everyone within three fields of me is turning around to see who that parent is.
I hope your daughter loves playing soccer. I hope she loves it enough to want to keep doing it in spite of the fact that she has that parent on the sideline yelling and screaming at her every time she has the ball. I’ve seen that nearly ruin a soccer player. I mean how embarrassing must it be for a child to have to tell their parent to stop yelling during a game? I’ve seen that happen. Of course there’s the chance that your daughter is learning from you and acts just like you. And eventually will start yelling at her teammates in the same condescending manner you yell at her. That doesn’t end well either – in case you’re wondering – and yes I’ve seen that happen too.
Currently you are on a crash course to being the parent everyone avoids at the games. And unfortunately for your daughter the parent that the coaches avoid at all costs. Like fake-a-seizure-so-I-don’t-have-to-talk-to-that-parent kind of avoidance. The kids pick up on it too and will probably start teasing her. Yes, I’ve seen that happen too – it’s not pretty. Again, I hope she loves soccer so much that all of these things won’t matter to her because if she doesn’t in a few years she will hate soccer.
I don’t know what your motivation is for acting that way. There are all the cliché reasons like you didn’t get to play soccer, got cut from a team, never realized your full potential, or you were great a soccer player back in the day and want your kids to be like you. Maybe it’s because soccer is expensive and you expect more for your money (PS if this is your reason you should quit now). Or you just expect perfection from everyone, or hell, maybe you just like to scream at the top of your lungs. It doesn’t really matter why you do it, you just need to stop. For your daughter’s sake, or if nothing else so you don’t have to pay for therapy when she’s 16.
In closing, Mrs. Beauregarde, please know that it’s just one game. You will have hundreds more in your future and Violet will make mistakes and she will make awesome plays too. There will terrible calls from the officials that can’t be reversed. There will be wins and losses. There will be good coaches and bad coaches and sometimes she may not get to play the position she wants to play. If you can’t accept all of this you need to quit now because it’s going to get a lot harder as she gets older.
Remember, “Keep your eye on the prize!” Just realize the prize isn’t always winning.