So also not helping the whole EVERYTHING IS CAUSE FOR ANGST situation is the massive time-suck and patience-draining experience that has been Fall Softball. I have voluntarily given up two nights a week and almost every single Saturday over the course of 2-3 months for what I thought was going to be a continuation of the positive and rewarding experience that I have every summer. I should have known better.
Softball is the thorn in my side right now. It's been well-established on this blog how much I love it and how much I love coaching, so you'll know that I come from a good place when I say that I kind of hate it right now.
I was hoping it would stay rainy yesterday so I could call off practice because I honestly didn't know if I could handle those girls right now. One on one, they're all good kids, but they're so goddamn whiny and I can't make anyone happy and after a fiasco with a terrible umpire during last Saturday's games, I had a hard time wrangling them back up to play. One girl flat-out refused at first. I was not only livid at that dick of an umpire for being, well, a dick to both me and my girls (and the other team) but I was so frustrated at the attitudes of the girls that I had to stifle the urge to just Walk Away. I'm not a quitter and for the times that those girls are under my supervision, I am (usually) super dedicated and kind of - I don't know, big sister-ish? Not motherly. That's not right. But, yes, like a big sister. That feels accurate. But I just couldn't handle the complaining and the whining and the fact that I couldn't make it stop.
I am not qualified to be handling this age group, I have no idea how to relate to them or guide them or even control them. On a fundamental skill level, it required a massive mindset change because I was used to coaching girls that kind of already knew what they were doing. Not so much, here. I take for granted the things they know. It was an adjustment period. I've basically settled into survival mode now: I just need to get through the season. And we did manage to win a game last weekend so at least I feel like I've accomplished something. But overall, I feel like a failure and my patience has been stretched to its very limits and I just don't know what to do. I don't. My heart's not in it anymore because no matter what I do, I can't win with these kids. There are a couple I like, and I hope eventually they maybe land on my summer team someday, but... argh. (Omg. It just occurred to me that it's a very real probability that in about two, three, maybe four years, I could end up with this same batch of girls in my precious Older Kids league. God, I hope the coaches in the interim mold them into the Older Kids that I'm used it.)
OH! And here's the kicker for this week. At the beginning of practice last night, we were doing the whole stretch-as-a-team thing - and YES, they managed to whine and complain about HAVING TO STRETCH - someone asked the group who all was planning on trying out for the travel team (the more competitive tournament team) and then one of them was all "my mom says if I try out for travel team I'll have a better coach than you." .... yeah. She may have tacked on a "no offense" after that, but does that really matter? "No offense" just means "Hey! I insulted you but don't be mad!" Ugh. I mean: to be fair, she's right. They hire paid coaches for the tournament teams. Still. It was rude and I just plastered a fake smile on my face and said something to the affirmative, but holy shit, guys. I have been so verbally abused this season by this batch of kids. They have NO FILTER. They also don't ever stop talking. Or whining. Or complaining. One of my other girls, bless her tiny little heart, asked me if I was one of the travel team coaches. I can't remember if this was before or after The Insult, but. Sigh. Also, I know this girl's mom, and while I don't particularly like her... I can totally picture her saying this. I don't know if I should take it like it sounds, or if she meant it differently. I'm going to not think about it too hard.)
I can't win. My assistant coach and I kind of went back and forth on facebook for a little bit, I know she's frustrated too. They don't pay attention, they don't listen. She wondered out loud if we should say something to the parents? And honestly, I've been thinking about it. Something a bit more tactful than, "hey, your kids are being brats, can you tell them to knock it off? kthnx." But you know what I mean. I'm just wondering if it's too late, though. I've let them walk all over me all season because I can't bring myself to be a bitch. They're ten year olds, for chrissake. They're just so young.
They need some sort of guidance, though. Some sort of lecture. They need to keep their attitudes in check and learn to respect their coaches and do what we ask without whining. I don't know how touchy this group of parents is, though. What interaction I have had with them, they seem like they'd be understanding, maybe? I don't know. I've NEVER had problems like this with any of my other teams. I'm sure it's the age group. I don't know. I'm trying, guys. I really am.
If I'd have realized how good I had it with my older girls this past summer, I would have given them all hugs every day and showered them with cupcakes and rainbows. I think part of me knew that I had a good thing going, every season I always paused to think about what a good group I had, about how easy it was - too easy? - and I was always sad to see the season end.
This season, it will be nothing but relief. Sheer, grateful relief.
And possibly liquor.