Sunday, July 1, 2012

When Saying "Ain't" Is Worse Than Swearing

Christopher had  a less than stellar baseball experience this spring.  His Little League team was littered with attitude problems, the coach's head wasn't really in the game and he was stuck in the outfield for those innings when he actually did play.

The coach started off great, but lost steam in the end.  I had high hopes for the guy who began his practices and games with "hey, champ, you've got a great arm on you" or  "you're too talented to watch strikes go by and not swing"  turned into "I have nothing positive to say.  There were too many errors in this game to count," followed by a bellowing, "What's wrong with you?!"

Suffice it to say the team didn't get too far in the playoffs.  The kids weren't having fun.  The coach wasn't having fun.  The parents, definitely, were not having fun.

I wasn't the only parent who thought the season was wrought with problems so I don't think my version of how the season progressed is too off base.  It really was excruciating to watch.

At the end of one of the playoff games the coach proceeded to tell the kids how disappointed he was with every mistake that was made. During his post-game wrap-up he offered no positive reinforcement whatsoever.  One of the parents had enough and grabbed his son out of the group while yelling a string of profanities at the coach.

This parent told the coach he was the "worst effin' coach he'd ever seen."  He went on to say he "ain't never seen a coach do a worse job" and "my kid ain't never playing on your team again." I quickly scanned the group to see which of the 7 and 8-year-olds heard the offensive f-bomb because that was my cue it was time to leave.  I could see things were getting pretty heated so I grabbed Christopher and said, "let's go."

I wondered if Christopher was going to ask me about the expletive-laced language this parent thought was appropriate to spew in front of the kids.  I wanted to explain that his behavior and language was inappropriate and uncalled for.  I did not agree with the coach either, but there are better ways to voice a disagreement.

On our ride home we talked more about the coach's inability to provide any positive reinforcement and how Christopher would hopefully get on a better team next year.   I wanted Christopher to know that his experience this year was not normal.  He would have to try again.

When we got home Christopher told his Dad about this parent's outburst.  He explained how they lost their game and how the coach told his teammates how many things they did wrong.  He brought up how the father of one of his teammates started yelling at the coach.  I was bracing myself for his description of the f-bomb and preparing my speech about how disrespectful it was, etc.

But his description of the f-bomb never came.

Instead, Christopher told his version of the worst part of the tirade by telling his Dad, "you wouldn't believe how many times this guy said 'ain't'!"

Christopher Murray, future grammarian.  His English teachers are gonna love him!


Meryl said...

You make such a good point - postive reinforcement and shaping of desired skills is so much more effective than bullying or negative feedback. Too bad the coach started off so well and ended so ineffectively.

Also glad you liked my summer reading suggestions. I hope he likes them. You may also want to try Resistance which is more of a story than the others to round it off a bit. Please let me know how you found my suggestions.

Looking forward to more visits!


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