Suburban Butch Dad Report: Passing on the Family Business of Speaking Up For Yourself

I would like to share a Proud Parenting Moment concerning my Elder Spawn.  Tonight she stood up for her beliefs and for what she wanted, in the face of opposition by some privileged, spoiled popular girls on her soccer team.

A little history.  ES has been playing soccer since she was in first grade.  There are 2 other girls on her team from those days, several of them joined in the next couple of years.  Most of them have been playing together for several years now and they have great camaraderie.  We love the other families and everyone is into fair play so we have a good atmosphere on the sidelines.  Since about year 3 or 4, they’ve been playing under the same team name, a name ES came up with, incidentally.  The name came about in a rather silly way, which isn’t surprising considering they were 8 or 9 at the time, but it has become a beloved rallying cry for the team and us fans.  Sadly, in the past couple of years, it has been less beloved by vocal minority, who’ve been making increasing noise about their discontent.  They have in fact, been whining, about how childish it is, how it embarrasses them, how it’s wimpy, and how much they want to change the name.

Last year the coaches put it to a vote and the old name won, barely.  That didn’t stop the whining, apparently.  Oh, and to top it off, the chief complainants are the coach’s daughters.  And this leads us to a lesson about politics which we conveyed to ES tonight:  if you are close to power, you have more say in decision making.  And so it is that the question of changing the name is once again up for vote, and the coaches have fumbled and obscured the process in a way that feels a bit disingenuous.  The coaches sent an email not long ago, asking for nominations for a new name, giving this Friday as the deadline.  Our ES, a passionate advocate for the old name, was going to send an email with her nomination and some reasons why it was still a great name and worthy of support.  Today, the coaches sent an email with three recommendations, sans the current name, with no explanation, completely ignoring the fact that they’d given Friday as the deadline.  This ticked Mrs. Kyle and I off, and upset ES.  Mrs. Kyle got on the phone, I emailed something much more restrained than what I was feeling, and ES wrote as well.  We ended up holding Spawn’s email back, helping her to come up with something more reasoned and less divisive (wow, but she wrote with some heat).  That was the next lesson, that as passionate as you are about something, if your goal is to convince people and bring them over to your side, you have to do what you can not to offend and piss them off.

Other parents have chimed in, apparently, because now the list of nominees includes the current team name, and an invitation for others to send nominations.  We sent ES’s reworked email as both her vote for the existing name, and presentation of her reasons for voting that way.  We’ve since gotten emails from parents and one of the kids, thanking ES for her statement.  Another lesson learned, if you take the time and put yourself out there, you might find you have support you were previously unaware of.

Sadly, this whole situation came about because the coaches were swayed unduly by their daughters whining (their word, not mine) about the name (apparently before and during the games, in fact, they’d have been doing laps if I was the coach).  The coaches want to change the name so they won’t have to listen to whining anymore.  Seriously, this is the first thing one coach said to Mrs. Kyle in explanation for the name change proposal.  I’m dead sure that if the suggestion had come from elsewhere in the team, and hadn’t been supported by their daughters, not much would have come of it.  At the very least, they wouldn’t have attempted to railroad us into choosing from a list of sucky substitute team names.  (the names proposed were surprisingly unimaginative considering they’ve wanted a change for 2 years now).

Another rub in all of this is that we just bought new jerseys for the team last year and some of us have bought coordinating gear for our daughters (hats, gloves, Under Armor, etc.).  Shelling out more money, on top of league fees, just so some spoiled girls can have their way (and so their parents don’t have to stand up to them) is not something we and other parents are taking lightly, not to mention the message it conveys.  One of the other parents brought this up to the coaches who said, with confusion, “But it’s only $25.”  Ok, maybe for you, that’s an “only” but not everyone on the team is in a position to buy new jerseys and accessories year over year (one family has two girls on the team, a few are not in super flush situations financially).  So class privilege is playing a part in this as well.  And, as usual, those with privilege are unable to see it.  They seriously didn’t consider that the additional financial outlay would be any problem at all.

I’m very proud of my daughter for taking the time, and the risk, to put herself out there, to speak up for herself, against more popular girls.  The family value of standing up for what you believe in, even if the odds are not in your favor, have been passed down.  She set her jaw and wrote her email, knowing that the group may decide against her choice, but she did it anyway.  She’s showing signs of her ability to lead, to speak up, to maintain her integrity and voice against popular belief.

I guess, despite the other push back we get from her all the time, we must be doing something right around here.

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