August 5, 2011
I’m such a bad parent. No wait, I think that’s a little too harsh. It’s not so much that I’m a bad parent as much as I’m a stereotypical one. Yeah that sounds better. I’m a stereotypical black father who is actually present.
That’s the perfect way to describe how I feel after my daughter’s first day of soccer practice. I mean I was excited—perhaps a little too excited. As a former athlete and avid sports fan I was proud almost to the point of tears when I saw my baby kick the ball between the cones then come in second place in her first team sprint. Words can’t describe how elated I was to witness her first day competing on the field. I can honestly say that was probably my happiest moment as a parent which, when I think about it, is absolutely terrible.
It’s terrible because so far in her academic career my daughter has been an excellent student. She was honored during an assembly for being scholar of the month in Kindergarten, and she was given the top award in her class this past year in first grade. So what can I say? I mean those things are definitely cool and I’m glad I have an intelligent, articulate child but I’m sorry— it’s just not the same for me.
I didn’t jump up and scream when she accepted her award in front of a few hundred people I only applauded mildly. Similarly, when she showed me the award she got from her teacher I said good job and kissed her on the cheek but when I found out she would be wearing a number 7 jersey like Michael Vick I almost lost my mind. I took pictures of her wearing it with my camera phone, I called relatives long distance, and I gave her high fives all over the place. I realize now that I put much more of an emphasis on athletics as opposed to education where it should be, but it’s so hard to do otherwise.
It’s not that I want my child to barely pass her classes and work toward getting an athletic scholarship it’s just that seeing her out there doing her thing evoked a more effusive response from me; and while I would like to say that’s only natural I’m more inclined to say, once again, that’s terrible. And the worst part about it is I never even played soccer.
Alright maybe I can even things out a little bit. The next time she gets an academic award I will force myself to go nuts. I will scream, I will shout, I will holler, and I will jump for joy as if I caught the Holy Ghost. The only problem with that is my little one will see right through the act. After all she is very sharp. My goodness, I only wish my mother and father would have told me how difficult this parenting gig truly is.
I wish more fathers would encourage their daughters to play sports. Don’t underestimate the importance of sports in the lives of girls. Sports involvement can play a major role in helping girls achieve academically. A lot of fathers are intent on their sons being athletic, but forget about it when it comes to their daughters. I was the youngest of four girls for my father–his last chance at having an athlete and I am sooo glad that he pushed me into sports. Playing sports distracted me from a lot of the middle school adolescent girl antics. I will say that there are always waaaay more supporters at pee-wee football games than at back to school nights and spelling bees…and that makes me sad. But for girls, it’s so important that they learn that their bodies can do more than…ya know 🙂
Amen sista! My sentiments exactly. There is no way I will allow my daughter to be one of those girls sitting in the bleachers gossiping about some boys playing football when she could be active herself. thank you so much for reading and responding.