Because activities

Hey, I know! Let’s compensate for our own miserable lives by making sure our kids don’t have a minute to themselves:

How did we go from spending our family times in parks and picnics, at movies and relatives houses to travel baseball and cheerleading competitions? When did we go from being supportive to being subtly abusive?

Why are we spending our entire weekends schlepping from county to county, town to town, state to state to play in some bullshit regional, junior, mid-west, southeast, invitational, elite, prep, all-state, conference, blah, blah, blah tourney? We decorate our cars with washable paint, streamers, numbers and names. We roll in little carpool caravans trekking down the interstate honking and waiving at each other like Rev. Jim Jones followers in a Kool-Aid line. Greyhounds, Hawks, Panthers, Eagles, Bobcats, Screaming Devils, Scorching Gonads or whatever other mascot adorns their jerseys.

You wouldn’t turn out for the Scorching Gonads?

The motivation here, apparently, is a subtle guilt/fear combo:

We are afraid that Emma will make the cheerleading squad instead of Suzy and that Mitch will start at first base instead of my Dillon. But it doesn’t stop there. You see, if Mitch starts instead of Dillon then Dillon will feel like a failure, and if Dillon feels like a failure then he will sulk and cower in his room, and he will lose his friends because all his friends are on the baseball team, too, and if he loses his friends then he will start dressing in Goth duds, pierce his testicles, start using drugs and begin listening to headbanging music with his door locked. Then, of course, it’s just a matter of time until he’s surfing the net for neo-Nazi memorabilia, visiting gun shows and then opening fire in the school cafeteria. That is why so many fathers who bring their injured sons to the ER are so afraid that they won’t be able to practice this week, or that he may miss the game this weekend. Miss a game, you become a mass murderer — it’s that simple.

Suzy is a whole other story, though. You see, if she doesn’t make the cheerleading squad she will lose a whole bunch of friends and not be as popular as she should (and she’s REAL popular). If she loses some friends, she will be devastated — all the cool kids will talk about her behind her back, so then she’ll sit in her room all day, eating Ding Dongs and cutting at her wrists. Then, of course, it is only a matter of time until she is chatting on the Internet with fifty-year-old men and meeting up with them at truck stops. And that is why every mother is so frightened when her daughters have mononucleosis or influenza. Miss cheerleading practice for a week, and your daughter is headed for a career in porn. It’s that simple.

Of such young women is Tumblr Feminism made.

I do worry about this at one level removed: #1 grandson has proven to be Quite The Jock. Fortunately, he doesn’t seem to be taking it so seriously that thoughts of it occupy every waking moment, and his parents have just enough Essence of the Lackadaisical to prevent them from going totally guanophenic.

(I got this from a teacher of long acquaintance on Facebook.)


  1. fillyjonk »

    7 June 2015 · 1:14 pm

    1. It’s “keeping up with the Joneses,” only metastasized into something that is less about having a new car or new pool and more about how well your offspring do at stuff that probably won’t matter once they’re out of high school. And I’m not sure I buy the “popularity” argument; my experience was you either had some ineffable quality that made you popular (I think “family money” was part of it, in my school) or you didn’t, and no amount of being forced into cheerleading/gymnastics/twirling/whatever would fix an unpopular kid.

    2. I knew someone who was on an intramural softball team made up of pre-med and nutrition students. They called themselves the Nads, because then the cheer was “Go, Nads! Go, Nads! Go!” Because even pre-meds can have 12-year-old’s senses of humor.

  2. Brett »

    7 June 2015 · 1:21 pm

    I’ve got families who consider themselves active church members who think nothing of missing four Sundays in six because of some dance or sports tournaments, and then lament that there aren’t any people in their age range at church…

  3. fillyjonk »

    7 June 2015 · 5:00 pm

    Yeah, Brett, we have exactly the same issue.

    Also, back when I led a Youth Group, we changed its meeting time three separate times to try to accommodate kids who were in sports.

  4. Dick Stanley »

    7 June 2015 · 5:01 pm

    Ah, youth. So much time wasted in whining.

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