Sunday, May 20, 2012

Smack Talk Prohibited

The start of baseball season this year has brought an all new source of entertainment. We have Myli in tee ball which is just plain hilarious to watch. I happen to be one of the coaches on her team and the most challenging part of it seems to be herding them all on and off the field. Fynn is in his first year of "rookie" - which is a step up from tee ball ... but we still have those kids who like to play in the dirt and wear their mitts on their heads. There are a handful of kids on his team, though, who take the game quite seriously, Fynn included. They slide into the bases, regardless of the possibility of getting out. They chest bump, back bump, and side bump to celebrate a good play. Luci is in softball. Her team is actually really good and, for the first time ever, she is really into it. She pitches or plays first base and she always gets her hit when batting. Now I'm not into bragging on my kids usually but I'm allowing myself to do so in this instance. I'm quite proud of her. Quite proud of all of them.

Fynn and friends throwing up their hats after practice on a warm day,
They had just seen some older boys take off their shirts.
During Fynn's first practice, we saw a trend that needed to be addressed. We called it "smack talk" and immediately prohibited it. From many of the boys, Fynn included, we'd hear bragging or taunting. "Did you see how far I hit that??? Man, I was cranking them out there!"  or  "Seriously dude, can't you throw further than that??" One kid said "That was pathetic!" We told Fynn he'd be out of the game if he used smack talk. We used another boy (I'll call him Joseph) as an example. "See how Joseph just plays the game and does his best without running his mouth?" I complimented Joseph's character to his dad. He thanked me with a smirk, knowing his son better than I. Ten minutes later I heard Joseph taunt another boy who didn't catch the ball he just threw, "You SUCK!", he said. His dad's smirk registered in my mind. I caught the boy's eye, gave him 'the look' and he knew immediately to apologize. It's really a lot of them, though, who do it. Fynn and I are reading Tim Tebow's book together right now (which I highly recommend) and it helps Brad and I get our point across....but it isn't an easy lesson. They don't get the concept of humility at this age. They're all just trying to prove themselves and there is a fine line between confident and cocky. He'll get it someday - we hope. For the most part though, these boys act like brothers. They want to win....and that is definitely a good thing. They are ultimately trying to encourage each other by challenging each other to do their best. It just doesn't look like encouragement sometimes. To me, it looks like showboating and it sounds like smack talk. But I'm just a mommy who wants her little boy to be nice.

Luci at bat.

Meanwhile, at Luci's first practice, we revelled in the stark differences regarding individual character and team unity. These girls are so supportive and polite to each other. They cheer each other on, encourage, build confidence. The phrases commonly heard on the softball field are positive.  One example during practice: From the batter after swinging at a strike: "I should have hit that one....what a good pitch!" From the pitcher: "Oh thank you! You'll get it next time! You're a great hitter!" "Thank you." "You're welcome!" During the game they have all sorts of catchy cheers for succeeding and for failing. One girl struck out and I heard them all chant "It's alright. It's okay. We still love you anyway!" (I swear!) And they all ran out of the dugout to group hug the failed batter. At the end of the game, most teams do a little group cheer for the other team, then go by giving high fives repeating, "good game, good game, good game......" These girls do this whole ritual but then they run to the other team's dugout and form a tunnel with their arms chanting, "We are so proud of you. We ARE so proud of YOU!" while the other team runs through their tunnel into the dugout. It's really pretty adorable...maybe just a teeeeny bit over the top.

Myli's team - the Mackenzie River Diamondbacks - in the dugout.

Now I don't claim to know why these two sports differ like this. The rules of the game are essentially the same. It could have to do with age and maturity. Maybe it really is gender or hormones (I've heard people comment on the overflowing amount of testosterone in the boys' dugout). I don't want to blame it on gender though. That's not in my nature. I used to think if we raised our boys and girls exactly alike, there would be none of those stereotypical differences. Nature vs nurture, we called it. Luci had footballs and trucks as well as dolls and dress up clothes. Fynn would play with dolls and princess dresses as well as his footballs and trucks. (I remember being complimented by our rather crunchy pediatrician on dressing our baby Luci in her gender neutral clothes). The problem is, you can't raise two children exactly alike regardless of their gender. They are born with their own personalities and you have to let them be who they are. We learned that eventually and when Luci was old enough to tell us what she wanted, her earthy green baby room was painted cotton candy pink, much to my dismay. I had fought off pink for so long so it bothered me as I tried to dissect the meaning. We don't get too hung up on the stereotypes anymore though. These kids are who they are and we adore them through it all. Fynn is very athletic, so obsessed with his sports. He also loves to shop online for clothes and he snuggles his mommy every night. Luci likes to paint her nails but she loves sports and prefers casual clothes to frills. Her biggest passion is to get dirty at the ranch taking care of and riding horses. Myli is Myli. She loves her babies and is the first in the family to own a barbie doll. But she'll dig for worms and play baseball in the street with Fynn and his friends any chance she can get. So I guess what I'm saying is, it shouldn't matter if they are boys 'acting like boys' and girls 'acting like girls'. Or if they're boys 'acting like girls' and girls 'acting like boys'. They are who they are and we adore them through it all.

But still - can we please do away with the smack talk?


  1. I so agree with you! Love you, Mom

  2. I have many doubt about online shopping, after seeing your article i came to the conclution where do you shop online for clothes? very thanks