Parents, All They Hear Is QUACK QUACK.
“Do you think he hears what you’re saying?”
“If the coach did his job I wouldn’t have to say anything.”
“So, if he did, you wouldn’t say anything?”
“I can’t help it; he’s my kid, I can say what I like.”
“Yeah you can, but all they hear is quack quack.”
A few years ago I wrote an article called, Dad!
It Doesn’t Help! It was about what I learned about myself when I was told by my eleven year old son my quacking
doesn’t help; in fact, he didn’t even listen to my quacking, that my quacking
fell on deaf ears.
I’d quack loudly instructions, as he was
about to bat; I’d sneak behind the dugout and quack softly more instructions;
I’d even worked out secret duck calls so only he could understand what I was
quacking about. My son also told me none of the kids liked their parents
still we quacked because we thought our quacking made a difference; and of
course, quacking is a great stress relief.
Most of us do well at keeping ourselves
together by not blurting out our stress and frustration. Yet, even for the best
of us, the pressure cooker explodes. We are simmering. The heat is turned up.
We think the lid is secure. But there it is. Everybody is now wary of the
child only hears the QUACK QUACK.
A duck moves gracefully across the lake.
What we see up top is different to what we don’t
see below the water’s surface—feat paddling at rapid speed.
We couldn’t keep those little paddling feet
to just turning over and over inside of us. We feel we must protect and defend
the mistakes of our kids, the good of the game, and especially let the umpire
know his judgment is floored.
At a recent national baseball championship
my son was about to pitch. A scout asked me, do you get nervous and stressed
when you see him out there? I said, not while he is pitching because he doesn’t
see himself as a pitcher. The scout said, even though his son is in his
twenties and plays the game not at a high level, he still is a mess inside watching
his son when he is playing. I said, I only really feel it and am churning up
inside every time my son is batting.
matter who we are, we all feel it.
Whether it is because we relate to a parent
duck and we want to protect our ducklings from anything that will harm them. Or,
we can’t bear watching our child in a stressful, competitive environment. Or, perhaps,
because there are fourteen of our genes in him or her (the other fourteen from
our partner), and half of you is also out on the playing field and so you have
a right to be a part of the action.
react; to protect; to quack, is perfectly natural.
I’m not an advocate to tell parents they
shouldn’t quack. But there are different forms of quacking: from harmless
shouts of general encouragement; to interfering parents who feel they must keep
on instructing; to some who know their judgment call is far better than the
volunteer managing the game.
is how I learnt to stop quacking.
I asked my son if it helped. I asked him
what he thought of it. I got his perspective. Of course, I justified myself to
him to why I quacked. Yet, for the first time I realised, this is not about me.
I’m going to have to deal with my internal duck feet kicking over in my chest
another way: perhaps breathe deeply, and
smile, and continually remind myself it is just a game.
made the decision to STOP. That’s it, no more. I
want him to enjoy the game. I want to protect our father/son relationship and
not let my ego and quacking get in the way. And, of course, I learnt to breathe
deeply, smile, and remind myself it is just a game.
I decided I wasn’t going to just try to stop. Either I stop or don’t
stop. If I don’t decide I’ll continue to quack. I wanted to help him by getting out of the way. That’s right, can
you believe we can get in the way—a lot.
I decided I wasn’t going to say anything in the car on the way home where my
instructional quacking was worse than my public quacking.
chose only to say, I enjoyed watching you play.
If he wanted to talk about the game I would
now let him initiate the conversation… Guess what; he did. Even then I chose not
to instruct. If I quacked it was only to ask questions.
In the end, I am my son’s parent. I’d
probably take offence if someone told me how to behave. I’ll quack if I want to,
would be my response. But in the end, I choose to look at the game through my
son’s eyes and what’s best for him, and what’s best for our long term
relationship, and what’s going to help him continue to enjoy the game, excel in
the game, and learn from the game.
Never forget, all they hear is QUACK QUACK.