While at a sporting event earlier this week I overheard a conversation between a father and his daughter. The young girl was early teen or maybe even a pre-teen. At first I didn’t pay attention to their conversation because they sat slightly behind me and over a bit. The girl’s voice – and attitude – escalated. The dad’s voice remained calm, but persistent.
They were watching her younger sibling compete. The dad questioned the girl about her own sporting activities. Along with the loudness, her voice became whiny. I couldn’t see them so I report this all through what I heard. The young girl repeatedly used the words “overwhelmed” and “intense” when she wasn’t raking her father over the coals for being interested in her life.
She didn’t want to participate in anymore camps as they were a waste of time. She didn’t want either her mother or her father questioning her again. She didn’t want them to spend any more money forcing her to play sports because she already had all the skills she needed. No, she did not need to practice because she had all the skills she needed. No! she didn’t really want to compete, she just wanted to be on the team. She didn’t need to practice and learn new things. She only wanted on the team that she wanted on without having to try out and her mother should NOT have spent all that money trying to force her to play. All she needed was for her parents to listen to her and let her make all of her own decisions. They were OVERWHELMING her!
I held my tongue. I did not turn my head even a smidge. I was afraid to. I might have yanked her out of her seat and been INTENSE with her. Instead, I got up and walked away. However, the conversation stayed with me because it reflects the differences that time makes in a culture.
First of all, my dad would never have spent thirty minutes exchanging words with me over options. He would have said, “Here is what you are going to do and I expect you to play/work as hard as you can.” End of conversation. I would say, “Yes, sir.” He would not soothe me or explain to me why he thought what he thought or why he and my mom made those decisions. AND he would only tell me once.
Secondly, I can tell her all about being overwhelmed at the end of a hoe or standing behind an ironing board or in front of a clothes line. I would bet that she has never picked beans and cucumbers and corn until her back was aching. I am quite sure that she does not walk to school or help her younger sibling with anything. If, by chance, my folks came up with the money to send me to a camp you can bet your bottom dollar that the only thing I told them was “thank you, thank you, thank you.”
NEVER would I have told my dad that my mom was too intense and that she was overwhelming me with her questions and expectations and that my mom needed to quit spending money on me and leave me alone to make my own decisions. If it were me talking to my dad, before I could say “you’re overwhelming me” a second time I would be hearing the belt come whizzing through the belt loops in an INTENSE manner to OVERWHELM me. There would be no third time.
Unfortunately, her malady is not unique. Even though I tired quickly of her voice and attitude, I could hear her through the mess. She just wanted to be a kid.She wanted to be goofy and hang out with her friends.
She did not want to have to perform. She wanted to have fun whether they won or lost. And the score would not matter! Her parents wanted a stellar performance each and every time. Neither dad nor daughter really listened to each other.
When I was young, my parents were the authority. We did what they told us to do. Now and then we got to argue our point but we were KIDS and our security fell within their guidelines. It seems as if there is an overwhelming confusion with kids today because they are allowed to make too many of their own decisions just about the time they really need a strong, guiding hand. To top it off they are allowed to express their unhappiness in an inappropriate and rude manner.
I believe that many of today’s youth are exhausted from trying to be professional everything instead of just being kids. So what if they can’t play the piano like Beethoven or throw the football like Peyton Manning. Who cares if they have 48 college hours by the time they are a sophomore in High School? Maybe it is time to let our kids slow down and enjoy being kids. Maybe it is time to reintroduce the idea that parents are parents and not good friends and buddies. Maybe it is time for kids to develop good manners rather than sports-making skills.
Maybe I should have gotten up and walked off sooner.