Last night I behaved poorly. Yelled at the opposing coach four times during my son’s basketball game to get off the court. He was standing on the sidelines but kept stepping on the court during the game. It bugged me. It was defiant behavior jeopardizing the safety of the players. It was referees not controlling the game. It was kids observing role models – him and now me – being jerks. I do not like being a jerk.
Sadly, behind those jerky behaviors is a person hurting. It was a mom whose son asked her not to tell his dad, a man losing his judgement due to a horrific disease, that we were going to the game. The last game of his basketball season. We tried to sneak out but only got a mile away before we were caught and questioned about where we were going. And, I’m once again faced with the impossible question – who do I choose? Do I choose to respect the wishes of my son who is trying to become a man and keep the game a secret? Or, do I choose my husband, a man, that is becoming my child and tell him here we are headed? I chose my husband, this time.
Ten minutes later my husband is at the game. His behaviors stress me. The worry of what he might do stresses me. The worry for how he might embarrass our son stresses me. And to most, the behaviors do not seem that bad. People in the know laugh at his antics to diffuse the awkwardness. But, even to strangers, it is obvious that something is amiss.
My husband arrives to the game with our precocious five year old. He was a surprise arrival and much younger than his siblings. He truly feels that he is a teenager. He does not always know his boundaries in terms of staying close to mom and dad. Some would say he is not supervised enough. I do not worry about his whereabouts in a closed gym but realize that other adults believe in tighter reigns.
So, to paint the full picture – mom (me) is in the stands worried about the emotional health of her son sitting on the bench. She let him down by revealing tonight’s game to his dad. She is worried about the judgement of others because her baby son, who her husband brought to the game, is running around unsupervised. She is frustrated that her husband can no longer keep up with the kids yet panics when he remembers he is responsible for them, and they cannot be found. She worries about what her husband is doing two rows behind her, because, although he cannot control his behaviors, he does understand that his wife doesn’t like them. All she wants is to watch the game, intently, so she can connect with her teenager on the ride home. Talking sports and rehashing the game is a safe and fun topic for them. It’s a lot.
It is hard trying to be all things to all these people depending on me in life. Please do not judge. I see the looks. I feel the cold shoulders. I heard the condemnations. Until you have walked in my shoes, you have no idea. I’ll gladly leave them at the front door for anyone that wants a try.
So, I’m sorry I behaved badly. I am sorry I was a jerk. I am sorry that I did not represent the families on this team the way we like to be represented. This will haunt me for a while. But, today is a new day. My family needs me to be strong. I am going to give it my best shot.