I had a total "mother bear" moment this evening. When it comes to my children, their safety, their feelings...cross me (or them, for that matter) and I turn "mother bear".
Zachary has been playing baseball for the past two years. He has been on the same team but this year they have a different coach. He enjoys it (but will probably never be an all star athlete and I don't care - as long as he is having fun).
The team he plays on is full of true to life boys. Pushy, mouthy, attention deficient, dirty boys. They are not bad kids, they are just typical boys who need a lot of redirection, a lot of discipline and a lot of tolerance.
Kirby "coaches" and I keep score (and attempt to keep these monsters in line while they are in the dugout). I say "coaches" because he has never officially volunteered with the league, just helps out when he sees the need as often as he can.
This is the new coaches first year coaching. He is a great guy - no doubt - he just hasn't made it clear to the kids what is expected from them. We have kids that are teasing the other team (as well as their own teammates), throwing equipment (and nearly taking of the head of one of their own players with a bat), chewing gum in the catchers mask (and leaving the remnants for the next person who plays catcher to get all over his mouth), pushing, shoving, talking back to coaches and parents, complaining about the position the play....I could go on.
They are GREAT players. They have only lost one game and even that was close. These kids can hit, they can catch, they make great plays....then there are the fundamentals. There is no sportsmanship, no playing as a team and no respect for their coaches, their peers or the parents helping out.
Tonight they had practice. Practice turned into a free for all. Kids were getting tackled on the field, one kid threatened to hit another with a baseball bat, they were fighting about which position they were playing and the coaches didn't say a thing. In fact, the coaches were horsing around as much as the kids were.
Kirby had to attend a wake this evening and was late for practice. By the time he showed up two other fathers had gotten so irritated that they got on the field to try and keep the kids in line.
A few of the other parents and I were chatting on the sidelines AMAZED at how out of control these kids were. One commented on how "painful" it was to watch and mentioned her husband was on the field because he was "getting ready to blow his top".
Zachary was playing catcher without any gear except the mask. He isn't a great catcher and tends to forget to move into action as soon as the batter makes contact with the ball. The coaches made absolutely NO attempt to correct him. At one point in time I stepped out on the field and reminded him what he was expected to do.
About an hour into practice, the same kid that threatened to hit another with the baseball bat, the same kid that had tackled about 5 kids on the field, the same kid that mouths off to me at EVERY game, shoved my son.
Mother Bear kicked in.
I told Kirby to watch Andrew and marched out onto the field to find that both coaches had seen nothing. I informed them that if I saw one more kid shove I was going to bench them myself. "Go ahead" the head coach says, "whose shoving" the assistant coach asks him as I walk away, "I don't know" he responds "I haven't seen it" (in such ah "oh give me a break" tone), "THEY ALL ARE" I holler "And one of those kids just shoved my kid - I'm DONE, these kids are out of control". I stomped off the field, grabbed Andrew and left Kirby to bring Zach home when they were done.
On the way home I called to get the league president's number. I am fully prepared to call him. One of these kids is going to get hurt if not by one of their own teammates by someone they are on the field playing against.
I took a few minutes, I cooled down and I decided that I need to call the coach, apologize for doing this on the field in the middle of practice and explain to him my concerns:
-This level in the league is called Rookies. They call it Rookie level because the kids are learning the fundamentals of the game, they are not given the score, they are new to the sport and they are there to have fun;
-Zachary is there to learn and to have a good time doing it;
-Somebody is going to seriously get hurt;
-These kids are not being taught discipline, respect, sportsmanship or the fundamentals of the game.
I left a message for him to call me but I think my mother bear attitude scared him off...
I screwed up, I feel badly (and a bit embarrassed) but I am not going to back down. Yes, I need to have a different approach but this is serious and I will not tolerate it anymore.
If it doesn't get resolved I think I am going to have to take a step back...