Sunday, September 6, 2009

I've Got Four Words For You...

As I begin this topic, I know what I want to say but not quite sure the tone I'm going to use. It's the type of topic that drives me crazy, mainly because I feel it should be common sense for everyone, but unfortunately isn't.

A couple years ago, one of my student's mom called me incredibly angry about her son's teacher at school. I instinctively took her side at the beginning of her rant... until she got to the meat of her complaint. "Are you kidding me!!!???" is all I could think of saying when she finished. 

Her son was expelled from school for telling his teacher to *F-off!* So, you ask, why would she be upset at the teacher for kicking her son out of class? Her question:

"What did the teacher do to make my son tell him to F-off?" 

Again... "Are you kidding me!!!???" What did the teacher do? What's she teaching her son, and how will he ever grow up and take responsibility for his actions? I'm seeing more and more of this, believe it or not ~ some just refuse to take responsibility for the decisions they make and the consequences that follow. 

Another doozie I'll never forget: 

It was my 14 year old tennis student, his dad, and I at a tournament in L.A. This kid was a physical talent, but didn't have much mental toughness or the ability to control his emotions. In short... he was a spoiled brat that thought he was entitled to win because his dad said he was better than everyone else. 

20 minutes into his first match, it was quite obvious that he wasn't going to come out ahead at the end of the day, so I began focusing on the positives we could talk about when it was over. I knew he was going to walk off the court upset, and probably not wanting to talk, but it was my job to help him after losses like this.

22 minutes into his first match, he threw his racquet onto the next court, almost hitting a player in the head. I immediately looked at his dad to see his reaction... hoping he'd be disgusted, and maybe even yank his ass off the court! Nope, that's not what he did. He actually gave ME a look, as if I was at fault. "Are you kidding me!!!???" 

It gets even better... 

27 minutes into his first match, he hit a ball over the fence into the parking lot, hitting a car, and setting off the car alarm (which seemed to last for hours). I looked at him again and yep - you guessed it... he gave me that same, "It's Dayne's fault" look. "Are you kidding me!!!???" This time, I wasn't going to just sit there. I walked over to where he was standing (I don't like sitting next to most tennis parents during their kid's matches - they can get critical) and asked if he thought this was acceptable behavior. He didn't say a word. 

35 minutes into his first match, he threw his racquet again, but this time it hit a pole and shattered! I was horrified to call him my student... and was planning on some "heated words" the second he walked off the court. Before I could think of what those exact words would be, his dad sprinted over to me and had the nerve to ask, "Why isn't he winning!? Why didn't you prepare him better!?" Say it with me... "are - you - kidding - me!!!???" You're worried about his winning or losing, rather than the punk he's looking like at the moment? 

I looked at him with rage welling up in my eyes, yet calmly explained, "You're right, my bad! It's my fault he's an emotional psycho at 14 years of age... and it's my fault he just completely embarrassed you and your family. I'm so sorry that I didn't prepare him better. I'm sorry that I let you down!"

I won't let it happen again!


plainolebob said...

isn't great to be able to pack up you tools and walk away, when facing this type

Mike DeNeut said...

Wanna knowe what is sadder, I know guy like 60+ years old, and when he and a bunch of other people with the mentality of a 3 year old on crack set up an online message forum, they would talk smack to peopel that put them in their place and gave all the users but them a rank of "Registered Spaz"... For awhile, this guy would give me a r ank of "I wear diapers", then when I set up an online forum, he made a fake forum, trying to say that everyone I know was me. Some people would make Dr. Phil cringe..

Irene said...

Love this post and yes sad but true...

Midnight Whisperer said...

Bob - Walk Away? Are you kidding me?! The greatest Fail in this situation would be for the one with Sense to WALK AWAY.

Dayne - You are probably not going to like me after this Comment, but that's okay...
If the tennis student was not prepared emotionally to compete, emotionally prepared to lose, as well as he was physically prepared... then you do share some of the blame. Is it right for dear old dad to only care that his son was losing the match while overlooking the sad display of sportsmanship? No. But at the same time it shines a spotlight on the probable reasons as to why tennis student was such a spoiled little brat and behaved in the manner that he did. You said it over and over; He's 14, Obviously in need of guidance, and obviously not getting it at home... not proper guidance anyway.
You knew he was not emotionally prepared and then got angry when he showed you how emotionally stunted he truly was. Did you coach the athlete or the person? And afterwards, DID YOU WALK AWAY?
It is easy to oversee our faults when other's are so obvious. It is easy to see that the Dad was in the wrong, and even the tennis student, but from what I read, if I read correctly, you share a little of that too.
You were presented with an opportunity to make a huge difference in this boy's life, to show him his errors as well as direct him on the right path. And from what I have read in previous posts, you are more than capable of handling that task.
My question is, What did you do about it? Did you walk away or alter your coaching to strengthen his mind as well as his body?

Adam said...


Dayne Gingrich said...

Bob - My instinct at the time was to "walk away," as this would be the emotional response (and I was young and less mature as now)... but I just couldn't walk.

Midnight - I wouldn't hate any opinion... from anyone. I invite them, actually.

There were a lot of details that weren't in the story, one being that we hadn't yet developed a strong relationship as of that tournament. I think I had only worked with him for 3 wks, so we were in the early stages of the process. I do totally agree with you that I had a huge opportunity to teach him something, both mentally and emotionally (as well as showing him how a hand on the ass feels like - haha).

Yes, the boy was 14, and yes he hadn't been taught how to behave like a mature competitor, but his dad lacked the ability (or ignored) to look in the mirror, and ask what HE could've done differently... or what he should do differently from this point on.

I chose to help show the kid that it will always be HIS responsibility for his reactions, and all consequences that follow. The dad, on the other hand...

Dayne Gingrich said...

Oh, Adam...

"Facepalm" was definitely my first reaction!

plainolebob said...

when i say walk away,i am not saying give up. To have the ability to choose to walk away, from a situation that is neither healthy nor profitable for you personally, and you see, feel and Know that it is a losing proposition, than i makes no logical sense to stay even remotely involved in that situation. to have the freedom of choice to walk away or stay and fight a losing battle. it is insanity, no one wins these battles.
sometime when you have the chance, read "how to win friends and influence people" - "the magic of thinking big" - "the greatest salesman in the world" - "acres of diamonds" - 'the power of positive thinking" - "the success system that never fails" or "psycho-cybernetics", and you will know wher i'm coming from.

sherry ♥ lee said...

Dayne, reading through your posts, you remind me very much of the best coach my youngest son ever had in ice hockey. He spent 3 years with this incredible man who taught him not just about the game, but about life. I managed that team and I can't even begin to tell you the things I learned from this man, who is younger than me and I count him still today as one of my closest and dearest friends. My son continues to play hockey (he's 17) and I see him implement so much of what he was taught by this coach.

As for parents...I had these worst parents I could ever imagine when I managed that team (and another one for my oldest son). I have seen the worst in people...and I have seen the best. And it seems to me that in team sports, it is always the "best" parents who are forgotten about because so much time has to be spent with the worst ones.

lifechick said...

Dayne, I feel your pain. I don't know exactly what to attribute this "parent as friend" (rather than parent as parent) phenomenon to. Perhaps people raising kids today didn't feel close to their own parents, and want their own kids to feel close to them, to the point of indulging them in a misguided attempt to gain that closeness.

I do think there's been a cultural shift in childraising. The fairly recent emphasis (in the last couple of decades) on children's emotional health is mostly a good thing. The drawback is that some parents go too far, trying to shield their children from ever feeling any sort of disappointment, criticism, difficulty, etc.

When I recently returned to college after an absense of some years, I was astounded at what I saw. Young students had little interest in earning a good grade though effort. Instead, upon receiving justified poor grades for similarly poor work, students would compel their parents to call the professor, demanding a grade change!

I believe this overcoddling of children leads directly to a sense of entitlement as adults. Such children have greatly decreased chances of achieving satisfying lives as adults. They simply cannot comprehend why their every whim is not roundly praised in the real world.

Anyway, sorry to ramble, but I thank you for your insight.

An Open Heart said...

I agree with lifechick...children today have a sense of entitlement that is gross. I have a 13 year old niece who gets pretty much everything she asks for and when she doesn't she gets mad...but, just as much, she is disappointed in herself alot of the time and this comes out as angry also. I think that parents are setting their kids up for disappointment when things are readily handed to them and when the child doesn't perform to some arbitrary standard, in other words, winning or making the grade isn't just handed to them, they become disillusioned, leading to anger.

The Niece is an intelligent, funny, caring young lady, however, she doesn't seem to have the self esteem she should, given her attributes and character, she believes she falls short, most of the time. I think this is because she KNOWS (sub-conciously) that things are handed to her and that she rarely earns things on her own. It is amazing what a sense of personal accomplishment will give a person. An appreciation for things earned gives a kid a sense of investment in who they are, which is what they are looking for....trying to figure out who they are and where they belong.

I find that when my niece and I are one on one, without her parents, she is a different kid. I don't take any crap off of her, I give her responsibility and expect her to achieve something on her own accord, this seems to work for us and more importantly for her. I think this is true of most kids, when their parents aren't around, they don't feel the need to behave poorly. Perhaps you could ask the parents to resist participating in their childs training until a certain point where you've built a rapport or level of trust with the student, in order to circumvent negative parental energy? I really like my niece much better when she's not around her parents...:-)

Also, just an observation, but, "EX" is a negative conotation, why wouldn't you refer to yourself as a "FORMER professional tennis player"? ......just sayin'.......


An Open Heart said...

P.S. Oh, and yes, the Dad really should have taken all of the responsibility for his kids behavior, you weren't responsible for who that kid was up to the point where you became involved in his matter how much the dad was/is paying you! That is the other thing I've observed about today's kids, their parents induluge them and then do not want to take responsibility for what they have created....THEY want to pass off responsibility for their own offspring and then blame someone else for the way the kid behaves.

AllA-II said...

Are you a Muslim?