Sometimes I worry I forgot to teach my kids stuff. Or that I possibly taught them the wrong stuff. Let me tell you a little story to illustrate what I mean.
Once upon a time, one of our boys played on the "C" team for his junior high school. What's a "C" team, you ask? Well, let's put it this way. It's not the school's "A" team. It's not even the school's "B" team. It's . . . the "C" team.
I'm sure you get the picture.
Anyway, this ragtag bunch went around the city competing against other ragtag bunches and while the quality of play wasn't stellar, a good time was (mostly) had by all.
That is until the day the Nordic gods arrived.
All of the team members were tall. And blond. And looked like they'd just swooped down from Valhalla. Or possibly northern Minnesota. They arrived carrying matching gym bags and wearing matching traveling uniforms with their names embroidered on the jackets, and they were followed into the gymnasium by their parents who sat around me in the bleachers where they spoke of their sons' many awesome activities (enrolling in accelerated classes, taking music lessons, participating on various teams) and awesome achievements (earning merit badges, winning PTA Reflections contests, and being selected to travel to Moscow to meet Boris Yeltsin over breakfast, although it's possible I'm making up the part about breakfast).
Naturally, the Nordic gods destroyed my son's "C" team. Squashed it. Like a bug they never even knew was beneath their expensive basketball shoes.
I could see my son becoming more frustrated as the slaughter continued. Finally, in an ill-advised act of sheer desperation, my son grabbed one of the gods' jerseys and flung him to the floor. The ref (rightly) blew his whistle and called a technical foul, whereupon I, in an ill-advised act of monumental pique with all those smarty-pants parents sitting by me, shot to my feet, pointed to the middle of the court and roared, "That's my boy and I'm proud of him." So neener-neener-neener.
Yeah. Not a good moment.
This is why I wonder if I'm the one responsible for the way my boys will ride referees now that they're spectators themselves. None of them suffers in silence when there's a blown call. Or even a questionable call. They shoot straight to their feet and roar their displeasure.
Recently my friend Andy sent me a link to an article about that referee in Brazil who was drawn and quartered by fans who were angry that the ref stabbed a player. I am not speaking metaphorically here. The referee was drawn and quartered. You know. Like in the Middle Ages. Andy hoped that this incident would a.) dissuade me from moonlighting as a ref in Brazil and b.) serve to make me feel better about me and mine.
And it did, I guess. To my knowledge no one in my family has drawn and quartered someone lately. But the story did make me reflect on how easily inflamed our passions can become at a ball game and how, once that happens, we feel totally justified in going to the stupid place where we say and do stupid things.
I doubt my boys and I will resist the temptation to unhinge our jaws in future.
But it's always a good idea to keep your hands to yourself.
Ann Cannon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or facebook.com/anncannontrib.