Yo, Privileged Guy At The Tennis Courts

This is for you.

The other day I was sitting at the tennis courts where my kids were attending a group clinic.

I was sitting in the chairs that border the courts. You know, seating for human beings.

There were two other mothers there. We were – like – just sitting. Chatting, really quietly. (And I mean really quietly, because I know how dickwads like you give the coaches everywhere around town such a hard time.)

We were pretty much minding our business.

Then you told us to shut the fuck up. Like animals.

To be clear, you interrupted the mother I was speaking to, mid-sentence, and yelled: “hey ladies, could you take your conversation over to the parent’s area?”

Um.

The other mother said “Oh, sorry, are we being too loud?” And you yelled “just go on down to the parent’s viewing area over there.”

Parent’s area? I didn’t know such a thing existed. I didn’t realize that parents were being segregated from the rest of the more civilized folk. Maybe we are and I just don’t know, but what you were referring to, which you then clarified: the parents area was a group of chairs five courts down, in the dirt.

Hey ladies, could you shut the fuck up and go sit in the dirt?

You very obviously had a hard on for misogynistic undertones, because I also heard you refer to my 15 year old daughter as “blondie.” If I were less classy of a person, I would have told you to shut the fuck up too. But being polite and not wanting to embarrass my kids or the coaches (who deal with enough shit from assbags like you on a daily basis), I returned to my book, and listened to you.

You bitched about children in tennis.

You bitched about not having courts when you want them because of children.

You bitched about children’s sports on the whole. You said children shouldn’t be allowed to play sports until they are in college.

You said the coaches shouldn’t be allowed to support children’s sports.

You griped about how a “council” should be formed to eliminate youth sports altogether from the community, because it bothers you every time you are there playing tennis, or even at the park walking your dog.

Every time a child at the group clinic even uttered the slightest noise – and I mean slightest – you stopped what you were doing (serving, playing out a point, whatever), looked over, and said “REALLY?!”

But I digress. You know what you did.

After you finished your friendly match with a guy who seemed much more decent of a human being than you (though not – clearly – decent enough to call out that “blondie” comment), you guys went in to the clubhouse and ordered beers. Sitting outside, still on the chairs for humans versus the spots in the dirt for the parents, I heard you loudly yelling at the guy serving you that you couldn’t believe he did not know your account number. That of all the people that frequent the place, he couldn’t remember yours.

Yeah, so.

What is so disturbing about this is your sense of privilege. It isn’t that you are more privileged than others – with more wealth or better health, greater opportunities, or whatever. It’s that you believe – like actually believe – that the world is all for you.

That it is actually OK to refer to a child as “blondie.” Ever, in any situation.

That people should be segregated based on their “status” or usefulness? I don’t know, what exactly is it segregating by to separate parents from non-parents?

I read a meme the other day that said “privilege is thinking something is not a problem because it has never personally affected you.”

That’s true. But I think in your case, I would take that a little further.

Privilege is thinking that the whole world is set up specifically for you, and that in your case the rules do not apply. That you can actually say and behave in the way you did that day and get away with it.

Why? I guess because for now you do.

For myself, I’m going to start putting my kids in situations where people like that don’t rule the world. It may be hard to find. Or maybe I will just start speaking up, and speaking out. How else will I teach my kids to stand up to that shit and make a change, instead of quietly turning back to their books and do what the privileged motherfuckers like you demand, just to avoid conflict?

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We Need To Discuss Your Summer Plans

“Summer plans,” or – as I like to call them – “just another group of months with the same old shit only hotter” are steadfastly approaching, and I feel like we need to discuss them.

We were at the doctor the other day, my 15 year old was having her yearly physical. The doctor asked what our summer plans are and the crickets chirped. Summer plans? The concept is lost on me.

It’s been in conversation for about two months now.

It’s a woefully tiresome topic, because – inevitably – it becomes one of those instances in which I feel like I have to explain myself to people. Twenty minutes into it, I’ve gotten nowhere. Usually this is evidenced by whomever I am talking with clearly not understanding what I’m saying, and changing the subject with something like “well there’s always room for spontaneous summer plans!”

And herein lies the first problem I have any time people ask me questions: I can never just give simple answers. Somewhere along the line, I conditioned myself to always justify what I am saying. In reality, I don’t have to explain my or my family’s reasons behind what we do, or in this case don’t do, to anyone.

We don’t have summer plans. Why not? Because we don’t want to.

Because we homeschool, we might be a little unique. My kids are around all the time during the school year, so I can’t exactly identify with the whole you-people-are-driving-Mom-crazy-for-these-two-months-every-year thing.

My kids drive me crazy all year long.

So in terms of camps or classes, or special outings: there’s really no need for it. Why would I put my children in a day camp that is the older-kid-equivalent to daycare when there is literally no need for me to do so whatsoever? It isn’t like they’re getting bored and need to be kept entertained. Or they are driving me batty and I need them out of the house. Summer for other people is our lives, every day of the year (except there’s schoolwork in there).

This is the second problem, although I wouldn’t call it a “problem,” so much as a circumstance. Our circumstance, because we homeschool, is that my kids are around all the time. I don’t need to keep them entertained, or do all kinds of extra activities because they are driving me crazy in the house. These things (the stuff we do, including the fun stuff) is peppered here and there through the entire year, because we aren’t beholden to a school district calendar.

That’s just the way it is, and yet no one (and I mean no one) can seem to grasp that concept.

The third thing worth mentioning is my husband’s work schedule. One of the reasons we homeschool is to accommodate his career in film. It’s hectic, it’s unpredictable, and it’s overnight. Anyone that’s ever worked in the film industry knows that summer and holidays are the busiest times for them, so vacations around then are not always in the cards.

If I’m being entirely honest, vacation isn’t really something we normally do at any time of the year, either. He’s just usually too busy, and when he’s not busy he’s catching up on sleep. What kind of a vacation involves Dad sleeping half the day, and keeping everyone up all night because he can’t (and shouldn’t) change his sleep schedule for the couple of days?

(And also, if we’re being REALLY HONEST… film work doesn’t exactly cover the cost of exotic cruises and trips to Hawaii for 5 + my dad.)

At a tennis match the other day, the mother of a couple kids my kids play with told me that she’s decided since her husband is working a lot this summer, she’s going to maybe just do the craziest thing ever and take the kids somewhere on her own! Can you imagine?

I take my kids places on our own all the time. If we waited for my husband to be available, we would be waiting years behind our graves.

This, I think, is a suburban thing: that families should do it all together, and if they don’t there’s something crazy or exotic or weird about it. The reality of it is that there is absolutely nothing unique about our situation at all. So many people have so many different circumstances to their jobs/homes/lives, it just is what it is.

And yet… this is the fourth thing. I waffle back and forth between wanting to live my life and let my kids live theirs; and feeling the guilting and the pressures that our culture has me conditioned to believe, which is that we should all be patiently waiting to live our own lives with our hands folded neatly in our laps for my husband to be available.

Except that he’s living his life by working in his dream career. This is literally what he dreamed about in childhood, went to college for, and has worked all these years to achieve. So we should not live while he… lives?

Why do we worry so much about summer plans anyway? Maybe this is just some weird stage of life I am in, where your plans end up largely dictated by your children’s plans, forcing everyone into these specific time frames to create family memories and – oh I don’t know – live life.

Or maybe it’s something bigger. Like a status thing. I remember a movie once where the guy says in a snooty voice: “where do you summer… I SAID WHERE do you summer?” The concept is lost on me.

My summer plans are the same as my every day plans. My kids do schoolwork. They do chores. They play tennis. The baby and I watch Story Bots and play with blocks. I cook. I clean. Sometimes we go to museums and libraries, some days we binge watch Supernatural.

And I think I’m much happier and more content than a lot of people. We don’t save life’s moments for special occasions or the summer months, when conditions are perfect. We live them every day.

Just Call a Cab (Mom)

Imagine one day you wake up to discover you are an Uber driver. It’s not what you want to do, and definitely not your career path. It takes away from your other responsibilities. And you don’t get paid.

But you have to do it anyway. There’s no way around it.

You put 200 miles on your car per day, 7 days a week. Sometimes more, never less. That 200 miles is spread out between the hours of 8 AM and 10 PM. 

You never have the time to go in and see what is going on that you are driving people to…because you have to go drive someone else somewhere else. Or someone forgot something. Or someone has to go to the bathroom. Or someone is hungry. Or you were so strapped with everyone’s schedules that you have to run home to brush your teeth still, or shower.

Of course no one outside of your situation understands that. In fact, you routinely find out that people say terrible things about how unsupportive you are for not always going in to see what’s going on.

You have a 2 year old who has to ride with you. He is miserable after 1 hour. He wants to play, instead he has to just keep riding and playing with what he can from his seat. If you do happen to go in and take him in with you, he bothers everyone with his noise and his playing and his toddler-ness, so you just don’t. You stay in the car, or he stays home (if someone is there to watch him and you had better believe you’ll be asked where he is with a disapproving look). Sometimes you take him to a nearby park, or other place he’d enjoy; but usually you have to be somewhere else to drive someone elsewhere and there isn’t time. Or you have to run home to take care of other stuff there that needs to be taken care of, like getting dinner in the oven or cleaning the toilets, because you already only get 4 hours of sleep a night. If that.

Also, remember, you are still missing out on what is going on where you dropped the other people/person off.

Your toddler has to usually eat at least one meal in the car. And did I mention he gets carsick? Also, he’s still breastfeeding, so that has to be done in between car trips, smashed in the backseat in some dingy parking lot too.

Your spouse drives 100 miles a day, roundtrip, in their commute to work at their dream job. Andd while others recognize you are busy, they regularly tell you that you are lying when you say you are driving 200 miles a day, even if you offer to show them your odometer. “Poor him he has it so hard… you?  …well you’re making it up stop telling stories HAHAHA” has actually come out of people’s mouths to your face.

People tell you all the time that they would love to help – JUST CALL! That ends up in one of three scenarios: 1. occasional help, which is awesome; though, more often it’s 2. the few times you ask, they are not able to 3. you get help, a little bit…just a smidge…but you feel SO GUILTY and have SO MUCH SELF-DOUBT about it all, that you feel bad asking again.

And you just know that if you were to write something like this, the single mothers of the world would be waiting on bated breath to pounce in the comments section with “…at least you have a…”

You should be able to handle all of this, right? If only you were managing the schedules better. Or had a tougher mentality about it all. Maybe you are going in a circuitous, illogical way.

The house, the housework, the grocery shopping, the schoolwork, the bath times, the bedtimes, meals, snacks, scheduling doctor’s appointments, holidays, the bill paying – you should be able to do it all plus take everyone to everything they need to and want to be at, on time every time, with a smile on your face.

Your budget for gas is $200 a month. You are using $120 a week (that’s $480 a month for those that cannot math). 

You don’t get paid for any of your time driving (duh). And you have to figure out that extra gas budget on your own with absolutely no help from anyone. Including the people getting rides from you.

OH ALSO: this free driving labor that has turned you into a terrible mother and a resentful person is giving you lower back problems to such a degree that you think you may need to see an orthopedic. (PS, just for fun let’s add in that you had back surgery for scoliosis when you were 13 years old, have Herrington rods on your spine, and definitely do not need back problems because they WILL result in surgeries.)

But wait…you can’t make it to any of your own appointments because someone else has to be somewhere else, and their thing is much more important. Always.

This is my life right now.

Every, single detail of it.

I completely understand that a large part of parenting kids over 10 is driving them from thing to thing.

However, a lot of people have a partner that helps them. I don’t.

And I know that will make a lot of single mothers angry, because I am married. I wouldn’t necessarily call him a partner, though. He’s just my husband. He works all the time, overnight, in his dream job. When he isn’t working, he’s sleeping. On weekends, he sleeps or works too. Last Saturday, he slept until 7 pm. If he can, he sleeps between 10 and 13 hours a night. He is working on Easter. He worked during our 11 year old’s birthday party last year. After I had major abdominal surgery (a c-section), he went to work two days afterwards, the day I came home from the hospital. With three kids to wrangle myself, stomach staples and all. He is, for the sake of discussion, not involved at all. When I hear other parents talking about how they “tag team” their multiple kids – split up events and such – I seethe in bitterness and resentment. It kills me to hear it.

A big big BIG factor in this is that I ALSO have a 76 year old man that I have to drive from place to place. That would be my dad, who lives with us. At the present time, he is unable to drive, leaving me the lone Uber driver. I had no idea how much work it was being retired and old.

A lot of people have SOMETHING – some sort of a break from it all. I don’t.

I think to myself regularly about how stressed out and tired and overworked and sick of being in the car I am, and I think that one day I will look back on this and wonder how I made it through it all. Originally I thought talking about it to people was the answer. I was wrong.

When I try to define what is going on for others, I inevitably offend people. I’m not a single mom. A solo mom? That pissed off a few people, so I stopped with that too. Absolutely no one wants to hear that my husband is absent in daily life.

This leaves me a bit of a Debbie Downer. Debbie Downer the Uber Driver.

I hate driving. When my kids are older and my dad doesn’t need rides places anymore, I’m going to move somewhere urban and never drive another car again.


The Intolerable Sports Parent

Today, like many Saturdays, was consumed by my kids and their sports.

I am among the millions of American parents whose children chose sports activity over something far cooler. Like a Saturday book club or a weekend Thespian Society. My kids are not in band. They are similarly not into something like D&D or other gaming types of clubs.

They are into fitness.

When I was their age, I spent my weekends reading Teen magazine, organizing my Caboodle, trying to tape my favorite songs off the radio without getting all the commercials, and crying into my pillow because my dad wouldn’t buy me a new pair of Rollerblades.

Not my kids, though. They can’t do cool stuff like lounge around all weekend eating Cheetos and watching reruns of Saved By the Bell.

Nope.

It’s only after you are knee deep in strings, racquets, and the mounting costs that come with it all, that you realize just how much single sports specialization becomes a way of life. The question every morning when we are getting ready for the day is: are we playing tennis today? Today, in 2019, the kids that pick one sport essentially devote all their free time to doing that sport. And if your kids get really into it, entire weekends, holidays, and vacations are reserved for – you guessed it – tournaments.

All complaining aside: I do love that my kids have found something that they have a passion for. There are a lot of kids (and I mean a lot) that sort of flounder around from thing to thing, until they eventually succumb to complacent boredom. Nothing good can come of a kid (especially an older one) that is bored. Tennis, for my kids, has not only curbed boredom; it’s kept them healthy, taught them about caring for their bodies, helped reduced school-related stress, and brought them into a social setting with other kids that have similar interests.

But by God if the parents don’t suck the fucking life out of it sometimes.

Honestly. These parents that put their kids in sports are the most intolerable of the bunch. And I recognize the irony in the sense that I – too – am a parent that has put my kids into sports.

But I definitely see myself apart from the pack.

1. I don’t coach my kid.

You can always tell you are dealing with the intolerable sports parent when you roll up to the tennis court and see that they are coaching their own kid. Even parents that played in college probably shouldn’t be coaching their kid (unless, of course, we are talking about a sport like baseball where the dad volunteers to be the coach for the team – an entirely different circumstance altogether).

I know parents that know absolutely nothing about tennis whatsoever and insist that they are their kid’s coach.

I know parents that bust out Youtube videos to show their kids a new stance for serving or hitting a backhand.

I know parents that will stand there and argue with their kid about what is right and wrong in the game. That will do this not only on the public court on a Saturday afternoon, but in front of a large group of other people at a tournament. The kid just lost, usually badly, and the dad is standing there lecturing about the racket head being closed instead of open.

We get it: a lot of professional tennis players have parents for coaches. But your kid isn’t Serena Williams, nor are you Serena and Venus’s dad.

2. I also don’t push my kid into positions they are ill-prepared ready for.

My kids play team tennis. Team tennis parents are the worst.

Granted, we have made friends with a lot of team tennis families over the years; but there are always those few that seem to have made it their mission in life to ruin the team experience for everyone.

Usually they are mothers, and typically they think they are auditioning for Dance Moms, at least when it comes to the high key drama and the nonstop shit talking.

Typically their names are something like Tammy, Tiffany, Brenda, Debra, Linda, Tobi, or Jenipher – spelled, emphatically, with a “ph.”

Speak to the manager haircuts are not required, but almost always a part of the get up.

This intolerable sports parent makes the situation unbearable for everyone else by trying to push her kid into a place the kid isn’t really ready for.

Why isn’t my kid playing #1 singles?

Why isn’t my kid playing singles AND doubles?

Why did we even come if my kid isn’t going to play the top position?

I’ll admit, there have been times that I have gotten annoyed when my kids are put at the bottom place week after week after week after week. But my annoyance usually isn’t because I expect them to play at the top, rather I am just tired that they are shit on by way of these overbearing, intolerable sports parents stepping on them to make their under qualified kid the star.

3. I don’t act crazy or loud at the matches.

It really doesn’t matter what sport your kid plays: there is no reason in the fucking universe why you should be acting crazy or loud in the stands.

One time, my oldest daughter was on a tennis team and there was a mother that would bang her fist on the table and scream at plays she didn’t like (either from her daughter or her daughter’s opponent – she was not discretionary at whom she screamed).

That same lady, one time, went totally ballistic because her kid was placed in doubles, and literally fell on the floor crying. Fell. On. The. Floor.

It was fodder for a bad reality TV show, at best; and to this day, I have not since seen anything so extreme.

We used to live in a townhome complex across from a soccer field, and every Saturday would wake up to the sounds of parents getting into outright brawls over something that had happened during the game. A yellow card or red card was pulled and parents would start screaming at each other, then two mildly obese men in Raiders t-shirts and Levi jeans would be rolling around, fists flying.

Once, at a tennis match, my younger daughter’s coach walked in late (having come from another match) and stepped right into a huge circle of parents and coaches that were screaming at each other about who was actually allowed to call balls out. At one point I heard someone yell “is this a racial thing,” to which another person said “no I’m Mexican but apparently my skin isn’t brown enough” and several people walked (no, ran) away.

Even the parents that cheer too loudly seem to be intolerable at a point. It’s one thing to clap or be happy for your kid; it’s another to stand up and scream like it’s the Super Bowl.

On one hand, I get it: sports, like everything else, costs a lot of money. Like more than a lot. For my two, oldest kids, our cost runs about $280 a week, and that does not include the strings, rackets, clothing, bags, grips, shoes, etc. that are replaced at least every other month, some every week.

So when you are putting out this fuckton of money, I can see how some parents could want some sort of a return for the money.

In truth, I think it’s really about the fact that some parents are living out their wildest fantasies through their children.

Because let’s face it: a lot of us didn’t grow up in a time where kids and their activities are so at the center of a parent’s universe. We were sent outside with our bikes and a stick; and, sure, some of us played a sport, but it wasn’t a daily thing like it is now. What we did daily was homework and Nintendo and hanging out with our friends.

And, if I’m being honest, our parents didn’t expect so much from us.

Or maybe I have a skewed memory of it all and my parents were intolerable sports parents when I was in t-ball or, later, tennis as well. I’m sure they existed in some way or another. Maybe there was a fight or two in the stands I was just completely oblivious to.

Or maybe me being so against living through my children and berating them after a bad match; or choosing to give my kid some space while they play, and keep quiet when I do watch, is the actual enemy. My lax approach to this whole thing really unsupportive; my insistence that my kids just enjoy themselves and have fun being just another example in a series of times I’ve missed the point. Maybe I’ve misunderstood the right and the wrong of this whole thing, and the only intolerable sports parent is me.


My Kids’ Sports Are Starting To Drive Me Insane

This month – May – is National Tennis Mom’s Month. At least that’s what the USTA says, and since May is Mother’s Day, it makes sense.

I am a tennis mom. I drive my kids hundreds of miles a week, spend close to $2000 a month, and live my life on the sidelines as my kids do what they love with their free time.

I even have the ‘Tennis Mom’ decal on the rear window of my SUV.

To be clear: they love it, and it’s the only reason I am doing it. That doesn’t change the ever-increasing fact that their sport-of-choice is starting to drive me a little insane. Last night, while picking up the house and finishing the day’s chores, I decluttered a drawer in the kitchen and took Marie Kondo’s advice so literally to heart that I was – out loud – saying thank you to the things I threw in the trash, the things in the junk drawer which no longer brought me joy.

That was the moment when I started to see the cracks forming in my mental health. I blame it on the kids and their sports.

 

A Lot Of Parents Are Living Through Their Kids

…so much so that it’s the de facto assumption of all parents.

So many people at this point assume that I am forcing my kids to play tennis, and it makes me really mad. Like REALLY mad. Like ANGRY mad. Because along with it comes comments like “you need to stop forcing them to play every day.”

Or straight up asking my kids if they like tennis. The other day, my daughter was working with a coach and when she got in the car after the lesson was over, she said “he asked me if I liked tennis.” That’s an odd question to ask of someone he’s been working with for close to a year now. Why the fuck else would she be out there practicing, attending clinics, playing tournaments, and taking lessons?

My kids are not easy to force into any situation. Putting their shoes away involves a twenty minute argument in which I have to reason with them over and over again about all the reasons why their shoes need to be put away. If my kids didn’t like tennis, if I were truly forcing them, cattle prods and massive bribes would be involved. I would have to threaten my kids with no dinner for an entire week to get them out of the car at the court, and even then they would probably consider the merits of one less meal a day if it meant not having to do something they didn’t want to.

What I’m saying is that it isn’t easy to force my kids into anything. And, moreover, that I’m therefore obviously not having to force them to play tennis.

It’s Starting To Feel Like Everyone Is Trying to Rip Me Off

Last summer, I paid for a week long tennis training camp that was only fulfilled for one day. After that, the coach had to “go out of town” and promised he would reschedule the remaining four days.

He has yet to reschedule it.

Routinely, I take my kids to local clubs for clinics, and they always have these deals. Like buy X number of clinics for X number of dollars, which is discounted from the one-at-a-time price. That, I have quickly learned, though, requires an enormous amount of bookkeeping and arguing. One club has been so bad about it that I’ve paid hundreds of dollars for a month’s worth of clinics, only for my kids to show up a week later being told we owe them money.

I probably have twenty stories like these of me shelling out dough, only for it to come up with no, or less-than-promised, services rendered. Is it because tennis is traditionally a sport of the wealthy, so people just assume the payees won’t even notice they’re being ripped off? Or is this just how things are now?

There Are a Lot Of Terrible Coaches

Playing a sport in college does not implicitly qualify a person to go on to call themselves a coach of said sport.

I think this is the primary reason why, in any sport – and especially tennis – there are a lot of really bad coaches. Coaching is another word for teaching, so unless you have some subsequent training in teaching, psychology, sociology, or whatever, it seems wrong to be able to just say “yeah I’m a coach.” Because you aren’t.

In tennis, anyone can *technically* declare themselves a pro, but there are also designated exams for certification as such. I don’t take my kids to anyone that lacks one of those certifications. Beyond the fact that if I’m paying good money for them to play, I should at least be able to get someone actually qualified on paper; there’s also just the simple idea that putting my kids in the hands of someone under-qualified seems – well – dumb. Right?

The real thing is that you sometimes don’t know. I’ve heard a lot of people lie about their qualifications in an effort to justify their coaching. There’s a woman who plays in local leagues, that – it is rumored – played in college; and now I’m hearing her tell people she’s a pro. Uh…really? Because the registry of pros is actually public and, well, you aren’t. That doesn’t stop other people from going to her, though; and – I’m sure eventually – a lot of kids will quit playing the sport altogether, simply because this unqualified lady that happens to play in a local league decided one day she needed some extra cash and could give lessons to innocent people that don’t know any better.

So Much Money, and So Much Driving

As I said, between the two kids, it’s close to $2000 a month, when all is said and done. Playing a sport isn’t just showing up and doing it. You have equipment, travel, clothing; then all the add ons. In tennis, you can’t just do the lessons, you have to do the clinics too. And you get to a point when the standard issue clinics aren’t that good anymore, so you have to upgrade to more elite clinics (elite = a lot more expensive). And then you’ve got to do a certain number of tournaments, join teams, play in leagues – all with hefty fees; have a back up racket for the tournament; new strings every couple weeks. Your shoes wear out in a couple months. Then everyone tells you the only way to get better is to play matches against players better than you; but the players better than you don’t want to do that shit for free.

All of that for two kids.

And because they are so far apart in age (four years), a lot of times they are on different sides of the county, with only one Mom to handle their transport.

I read an article recently that the nature of youth competitive sports in America is essentially pricing your average kid out of having the opportunity to do it. Either the cost or the ability to travel around, or both, make it near impossible for most kids to play. Knowing the ramifications of kids that need sports to stay out of trouble doesn’t lower the prices, either. In fact, the knowledge that everyone price gouges youth competitive sports now seems to only justify it.

TennisMom

The silver lining in all of this is that my kids really love to play tennis. Sometimes I have to force them – against their little wills – to take a day off. Next to their schoolwork and the various household pets (two dogs, one guinea pig, and two fish), tennis is everything to them.

Which is why, as crazy making as it is, I do it all. May is Tennis Moms Month, you say?

 

I Think I’m Becoming One Of Those Annoying Sports Parents

Seriously. I will not shut the fuck up about tennis (our chosen sport). That is the principal clue that I’m becoming one of those annoying sports parents.

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Tonight I was posting a photo to my Instagram page. After I checked in at the tennis courts on Facebook, of course. After the photo uploaded I looked at my most recent photos. Tennis. Homeschooling. Weekend. Food. Tennis. Tennis. Tennis. Dog. Dog. Tennis. Tennis. Tennis. Breakfast before tennis. Dog. Tennis. Husband’s birthday. Book I’m reading. Tennis. Tennis.

I’m so annoying. If I were one of my Instagram followers, I’d be saying out loud: “alright, we get it already …you guys are into tennis – gah!”

Or my Facebook friends. My poor, innocent Facebook friends that are probably all asking themselves daily if we really should be connected.

Because honestly. Who would want to call an annoying sports parent like me their “friend?” Not me, that’s for damn sure.

My posts have been rapidly derailing into nothing but updates about tennis. I’m like one of those new parents that won’t shut the fuck up about their baby belly, their pending birth, the dilation of their cervix, and the subsequent 16 million photos of their baby all making the same, typical baby faces.

Only about tennis. Tennis is my new baby.

There’s the basic update that no one really gives a shit about.

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Then there was that time I tried to express frustration, which people also didn’t (and shouldn’t) give a fuck about.

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Occasionally I try to fit in that we are out for tennis by talking about something else, as if that’s going to trick people into believing that I’m posting anything other than TENNIS TENNIS TENNIS OMG OMG TENNIS TENNIS!!!!

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The growing sense of arrogant entitlement.

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Posts that will one day be proof that I’ve become a truly annoying, and borderline intolerable, sports parent.

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And, the occasional moment of acceptance and defeat.

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I’m sure if we are Facebook friends, you unfollowed me a long time ago. I myself feel like punching myself in the crotch just reading over all of these.

The thing is that I’m not *really* the one doing the tennis playing. I mean I’m facilitating the practicing. Serving the balls, paying the bills, loading the ball machine, shouting the occasional annoying-sports-parent slogan (my favorite is: “let’s move it – tennis is a sport of movement, not lounging around!!!!”).

But I’m not the one taking the lessons or playing the games. I won’t be the one playing the tournaments, and I won’t be the one to either win them or lose them.

I’m just the mom who is obsessed. And annoying. And overly supportive. Did I mention annoying? To some, I may be lumped in with the sports parents that live vicariously through their kids. They never did anything worth a damn with their lives (which most of them will admit to), so they have kids and live vicariously through their kids’ achievements. But to get to those achievements, especially because a lot of times the kids don’t even want to do whatever it is the parents have them do; they have to push. And push. And push. And push their kids in ways that are entirely unreasonable to keep it going.

I’m not one of them. There are a lot of them out there, but – honestly – anytime anyone in my house says “this has gone too far,” or “enough is enough,” I’m perfectly prepared to retire the tennis gear forever.

There are more clues out there, though. That I’m not one of those trophy parents, but still among the annoying variety.

A while ago, I decided I would build tennis into our daily routine. Not just the practicing, but the living and breathing of it. I mean everyone in our house wanted to do it that way, so I figured – hell, why not? Why not add 30 minutes watching tennis channel to part of the breaks we take during the day of homeschooling? At least then three hours of sitting on our asses watching match after match don’t go by without realizing it. Why not add yoga for better balance in tennis to the morning routine of get up-wash-your-face-brush-your-teeth-eat-your-oatmeal nonsense?

And then there’s the whole bit about never shutting the fuck up about it.

Yesterday we went to my sister in law’s baby shower. It, in and of itself, was the most intolerable activity of my year; so I figured I would match that intolerableness by being intolerable myself. By networking my way around the room, between family and my mother in law’s friends; people I had never met before, and just innocent neighbors that had noticed a party going on and wandered in (no really…three people there were of that variety, and I envy them for such gusto). All the while, when people asked “what do you do?” or “how are things going,” the conversation turned to our preoccupation with sports. Tennis. Fucking tennis mom won’t shut the fuck about tennis.

I annoy even myself.

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But what I will say in my own defense, and the defense of all the other annoying, obsessive, irritatingly one-track-minded sports parents out there is this: sports provide a lot of fucking structure that kids need.

After we got more serious as a family about tennis as a big part of our every day lives, everything else seemed to fall more into place. School work got done more efficiently (so we could get out to the courts). And done right, the first time – more often. Bedtime is easier (everyone’s burned off all their energy). Vegetables and fruits are eaten with less complaints, because quite frankly even my husband is burning so many more calories now, anything will do at dinnertime.

So I get it. I get why the sports parents revolve their entire lives around soccer or hockey or basketball or tennis or whateverthefuck sport their kid(s) play.

It doesn’t make it any less annoying, though. Make me less annoying, I mean. At least I can admit it and try to do better.

But let’s all face it: tomorrow morning when we go to coaching, I’ll check in on Facebook and post my photos and talk on the phone about it. And be the most annoying bitch on the courts.

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Dodger Fan Douchecan

I am from Chicago. I am not from Los Angeles. There is no way in hell I am going to be a Los Angeles fan.

That means I do not like the Dodgers. I do not like the Angels either. Further, I cannot stand the Lakers (especially Kobe). The Kings are somewhat innocuous to me, but that’s because I just don’t care much about hockey. Lastly, I think it is absolutely pitiful that a major metropolitan does not have a football team. I also hate the Raiders and the Saints, though – which are apparently the default teams for citizens of southern California.

All that being said, I do not begrudge others for being fans of whatever team they hold allegiance to. When in Chicago, I do not begrudge people that are fans of the opposing teams, or rather that happen to live there but be fans of other areas for whatever the reason may be. My husband grew up in the suburbs of LA, so he is obviously an avid Lakers and Dodgers fan – we even have what he coins a “Dodger wall.” I could care less about the wall or the fanship, but I will not change my team allegiance just because I got married. And I wouldn’t expect him to either.

I know that fans can be ugly in other areas of the country, but I have never seen fans act so nasty and vicious as they do here in Los Angeles. At the first Dodger game I went to, a young woman walked across to her seat in a Giants t-shirt and there was so much food thrown at her that she couldn’t get in her seat without swiping it all on the ground. Another time we went to a game, the Cubs fans sitting in front of us had beer poured on them by Dodger fans in the deck above. Some of the most violent things have happened outside of Dodgers stadium after games as well: people have been stabbed, beat up, shot, and one person has even been killed. Lakers fans are just as bad – who riot if the Lakers lose or win.

So I was running errands today and standing in line at Target when this total douchecan wearing a Dodger hat cut in line in front of me to ask for a price check on a Brita water filter. The price on the screen came up differently than the price he had seen online, though, so we all had to stand there for about fifteen minutes while they argued over this price check. I was pretty annoyed. It wasn’t until about five minutes into the waiting that I realized I knew the guy – he is the husband of an ex-boyfriend’s friend. It’s been years since I was dating the guy (about a decade) so I was surprised I recognized him, but then again how could I forget him? We went on a “double date” one time to a baseball game at one of the local colleges.

I remember it well. He wore a Dodger hat then as well, I a White Sox hat. While it may or may not have been the same hat he was wearing today, he acted like just as much of a self-important dick then as today at Target. We were at a community college game and the guy kept screaming as if he owned the team and had a vested interest in them winning. At one point I remember someone behind us telling him to quiet down; to be honest I was surprised his screaming didn’t get us kicked out. At the end of the game, he capped off his little tirade with “the Dodgers never would play like this – what a sorry bunch of losers these guys are. They’re playing like the White Sox.” We all laughed, awkwardly and he looked at my hat and said “I’m fucking serious.” I remember thinking to myself just who in the fuck goes to a community college baseball game, on a double date no less, and acts like this? A Dodger Fan Douchecan, that’s who.

Ironically, I am going to a game tomorrow at Angel’s Stadium. The White Sox are coming to town and so (of course) we pulled out all of our team gear and are heading down for some beers and baseballs. We needed to find another White Sox shirt to take with, though, since most of what we have is cold-weather clothing and it’s going to be pretty warm tomorrow. So after my encounter with the Dodger Fan Douchecan, I went out searching for a team shirt … only to be confronted with even more Dodger Fan Douchecans in my community.

I went to every sporting goods store in the county: Sports Chalet, Sports Authority, Team Gear in the mall. Team Gear had the closest thing I could find to a non-California team shirt, but they were jerseys for the Heat and the Yankees. They had one Derrick Rose shirt marked down also, but someone was buying it while I was there. At Sports Chalet, I walked in and asked where the team shirts were. I was clearly speaking to another Dodger Fan Douchecan, though.

Me

Hi! Where’abouts in the store do you keep the team shirts?

Dodger Fan Douchecan

The wha?

Me

The team shirts … you know, like the sports teams.

Dodger Fan Douchecan

Oh … what team ‘choo lookin’ for? The Dodgers?

Me

No. I was looking for the White Sox.

Dodger Fan Douchecan

The who?

Me

The Chicago White Sox

Dodger Fan Douchecan

Aw, no man. Only Doyers an’ Angels represented up in here.

Me

Hmm. Okay, well thanks.

Dodger Fan Douchecan to his coworker as I walked out

Man, the nerve. E’rbody know only Angels and Dodger fans allowed up in here. Pssh.

Indeed.

After hitting up the remainder of the stores in the area and getting the same, exact response from all of them, I see now that he’s right. Only Dodgers and Angels fans are allowed up in here.

I suppose in some sense I get it: if the population is primarily made up of a particular fan base, they’d only be losing money to carry merchandise that no one would buy. That really isn’t the point, though. The point is that my experience with Dodger Fan Douchecans is such that I get the impression these people think the Dodgers are where its at in all walks of life. I’m not saying that the Dodgers make people douchecans like this – assholes that will dump beer on someone sitting in front of them, stab a non-fan in the parking lot, and act like a totally self-centered prick in general life. Those people are just assholes, irrespective of the team. But this happens a lot with Lakers fans too, and I presume Angels fans. So is it that these teams attract douchecans?

I’ve only been to Angels stadium once, actually, so it will be interesting to see if they are just as arrogant and pompous as the rest of these people. Given their record this year, I’d hope they know better.