Monday, February 23, 2009

Attack of the Game Moms

Today's flavor -
Cayenne: heated; only bearable in small doses; many redeeming qualities, including passion.

[Here in my very first post, I am confirming publicly that I am, in fact, a crappy mom. Following is my account of an ugly incident at a 3rd & 4th Grade Girls Basketball Game.]

During the third quarter of our game this past Saturday, Veronica was hurt by an opposing player. She got up from a fall - unbelievably no one seemed to notice that she was hurt and crying, and the game just went on. I reflexively ran to see about my daughter and get her off the court. There was no whistle until I had removed her. She was crying so hard, I could barely understand her, when she said, "She kicked me. She kicked me on purpose!" Veronica has taken some hits on the court and even if she was physically hurt, it was the "on purpose" part that was making her cry. There was no call, there was no acknowledgement, and I admit, I was seeing red. My child was attacked and it seemed that no one cared. I signaled to the ref and said "She got kicked! Deliberately!" He sincerely and diplomatically said, "I'm sorry, I can't say, I didn't see it." Immediately the mothers from the other team were yelling "No she didn't! Nobody saw anything, she didn't get kicked!" Of course I was upset and and yelled, "She is not lying! She got kicked!" And when I saw the girl who was on the other end of the situation, I did say (yelled? most likely, considering all the yelling going on all around me) "Did you kick her?! Did you kick her on purpose?!" The other little girl started to cry and her father told me there was nothing deliberate and took her back to their bench. Veronica went back to her bench and both girls sat out briefly.

As soon as the game resumed, several mothers from the opposing side came at me telling me what a monster I was for yelling at an 8 year old when "nothing actually happened," they came en mass to say that Veronica was "the most aggressive one out there," (so she deserved a good kick?) and at least one of them said, "and your daughter isn't even hurt!" I actually wanted to try to talk to the girl's mother, who was the only one actually acting reasonably, but the other women just swarmed. So many of them were talking, my 6 year old said, "Mommy that lady said Veronica's lying!"

How wrong was I for yelling at the child? Inexcusably, painfully, regretfully, unequivocally, completely wrong. I was immediately sorry about my reaction. I do understand that the other moms decided I needed a good telling off. Absolutely, I get that. Calling Veronica a liar - and yes, she heard them say that there was no kick - was not exactly a decent response either. A couple of these women walked all the way from the other end of the spectator's seats to berate me and add fuel to the fire, yet somehow, I'm the only one who did anything wrong. After the game, I went to my daughter's side and the first thing she said was "I wasn't lying!" I told her, "I know. I believe you. But I want to apologize to that girl for yelling at her and maybe you can believe her too if she says it wasn't on purpose. Do you want to come with me?" She said Ok. We approached the girl (I thought her name was Tracy, but now I'm not sure) and I said "Tracy, I want to apologize for yelling at you," she started crying again and she said "It's OK." I said, "No, it wasn't ok. I shouldn't have done that, but I couldn't call my daughter a liar" Then the other girls' father who is also the coach, interrupted, "That's not an apology!" I was shocked. Ridiculously, I kept trying to explain. I said, "Look, I had to believe her - we do teach our kids not to hit -" But I couldn't finish. The other dad said, "That's your apology? Fine. It's not a real apology, but you think it is, so we're done." He ushered his family away. And the other mothers were on me again. "That wasn't an apology! You're still saying your daughter was kicked and she wasn't."
I know what I did was wrong. I recognize it. I tried and would have taken an opportunity to apologize properly and soothe the girl's feelings. I do want to apologize to everyone who felt offended by my fierce and inappropriate defensive reaction. That said, I can't ever imagine a situation where I wouldn't step in like a tigress to protect my child if I thought she was being attacked. As other parents sit in the comfortable shadows of their unbruised children, it's very easy for them to judge me and feel completely righteous in the certainty of how well they would have handled being in my situation. If everyone is in agreement that I'm so awful that I shouldn't be allowed to attend the next game(s), I accept that. I hope they also understand that they are also punishing Veronica - who did not a single thing wrong, and has a pretty nasty bruise from the kick that supposedly never happened - and confirming what she still fears: that she was not believed.


  1. Yes, you were completely wrong in yelling at the girl, but emotions get the best of us too many times...especially when we feel that we have to protect or defend our children - no matter what the circumstances. I am very involved in youth sports, and I know that kids can be very agressive and hostile (and somehow the parents never see it or admit it). But at this point, I really think that you should make an attempt at another apology (maybe a written apology or some kind of gesture). Not so much for the girl or her parents, but for Veronica so that future games are not so uncomfortable. And you are in no way a crappy mom...just human. Try to keep in mind that this is just a 9 year old basketball team. It is will blow over before you know it. It always does. xoxo, Joana

  2. I don't blame you I might have done the same thing. I know my husband would've been thrown out of the game.
    I think most then anything you showed Veronica that she can always come to you if someone hurts or tries to hurt her.
    That is worth more then a basketball game. That is something some mothers don't offer their children. It can get children in alot of trouble if they don't feel they can talk to their parents.

  3. Things happen in the heat of the moment ... (cayenne!) how you handle them after is what counts!
    btw... popped over from twittermoms

  4. I'm here from TwitterMoms too - love this blog and the way you tell it like it is. I'm with you! Love to have you check out JuiceBoxJungle on TM and on our site - we would LOVE to have you grab an episode and blog about it! We promote your blog right on our homepage...

  5. Thanks for sharing this beautifully written incident. I felt like I was right there in the court (hopefully as a passive spectator).

    I used to be quick on passing judgement on people. I have learned through these years that it results to nothing good except feed my ego. I thought what you did after the initial explosions of emotions have calm down was commendable. It takes a very strong, humble and good person to do what you did - accepted that you may have made a mistake and reached out across the other party for an apology. That gesture was a great model for the kids. I wish you well.

  6. Great post and wonderful gesture as was already said.

  7. I love your blog. I should be doing other things, but I can't stop reading.

    I have 2 teenage boys that have been involved in sports since they were 4 years old. I have learned that as they get older it gets more and more cut throat. I've seen my son get punched, pushed, kicked, tripped, etc. You just have to develop a thick skin and if your child is really bothered by the aggressiveness they will eventually stop playing.

    Having said that, I would like to add that I think it was very thoughtful and considerate of you to go and apologize to the other child. I don't think that I've ever seen a parent do that at all the events I've been to.

  8. You have better restraint then I do! I would have been slugging it out with those other moms! There would have been some serious 911 calls placed! I dont "Play well with others" but for them to come in a group to confront you....its always funny to me that people can feel so justified in what they are doing, even if it is just as WRONG as anything you may have villainize you was ignorant and wrong...any GOOD mother there would have done and felt the same way that you did IF it was their child!!! I would not go and apologize again or even worry about it!!!
    Your DD was hurt!!! No compassion at all for this child!!! THEN a whole slew of people supported the child who was doing the lying and who acted out in a horrible manner by kicking your child! What did they all just teach these kids! That the ones who lie and cheat are the ones who are supported and the honest ones are the ones left to feel they need to Apologize???? DONT DO IT!!!! Girlfriend I tell ya...Im heated just thinking about it all!!

  9. I have seen this many times - I currently have two boys in sports and now my 3rd son is starting. Assuming my kid is not gushing blood and an all out fist fight has not started (which has not happened YET), I let the coaches and kids handle it. The kids can share the information with the coaches (or I can if my child is unable to) and they can take it from there.


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