Recently, I had the honor of watching my 12 year old daughter, Savannah, hit the game winning homerun in her last regular season fast-pitch softball game. It was after the game that I started pondering the question, How far is too far in terms of experiencing joy for your own child? My conclusion was simple. There is no such thing as too far when it concerns JOY for your own child. However, there is such a thing as being obnoxious to other children's parents, and this is where this video becomes relevant.

Take a look at the video below, and then humor me as you read my explanation as to why I THINK this video is not too far in terms of obnoxiousness toward the other team's parents. At first glance, it will seem pretty over the top and silly, but read the explanation below to understand the context.

Over the course of this particular game I made the decision to cordially talk to the opposing team's parents who sat behind the fence on the third base side because every time my daughter came to the plate I wanted to video tape from that side because she bats left-handed.

So, every thirty minutes or so, I would show up to poke my video camera into the fence to video Savannah while she batted. I made small-talk with the other parents sitting there. I found out which kids were theirs and I complimented them when those particular players did well in the game.

By the last inning those parents were expecting me to come over and tape my daughter and they were enjoying the process. They even bought into my plight and were pulling for my daughter to get a hit each time. Savannah had a good game up to the last inning so it was fun going back and forth talking with these particular parents.

Thirty minutes prior to this last at bat shown in the video I actually said to the parents sitting there that if it timed out right, Savannah's next at bat could feasibly be to win the game, and if that happened I warned them that I would lose my mind yelling for her. They laughed at this comment and sort of said something to the effect of,

If that happens, we'll understand.

(Keep in mind, I predicted this could happen while the score was 4 to 0 and Savannah was 7 batters away from batting again going into the last inning!

I have never made fun of a parent of a player who I coached who I saw going crazy when their child did something spectacular. In fact, I was probably running down the sidelines making a fool of myself following their child when it was happening!

The joy you hear in my voice during this video is joy brought about over the course of a twelve week season from dozens of conversations with my daughter about how much she actually wanted to just finally hit a home-run and knowing she never had before. It's brought about from the joy of knowing how she asked me repeatedly to take her to the field to throw batting practice to her by herself so she could learn to hit better.

This joy is coming after I sat with my daughter at the 4A Fast-Pitch State Championship game just one week earlier and watched the best softball I have ever seen played live, and heard my daughter say,

"Dad, I would never be able to hit the ball hard like these girls, because all my hits are grounders."

To which I replied,

"One day soon, honey, you will get a hit like you get in the batting cage, trust me."

This joy is completely pure. You see, unlike the parents living vicariously through their own child's experiences and never accurately judging their own child's abilities, I was not mentally running the bases with my daughter during this hit. I WAS WATCHING! I was geeking out FOR MY DAUGHTER! I was giggling inside knowing that for the rest of her life she would remember one night at North Springs Park when she hit the game winning home-run and no matter what happens after this moment, that fact will NEVER CHANGE.

Honestly, I don't even know if my daughter wants to pursue a serious softball future. I don't even care. I don't even think SHE knows. All I know is she has fun when she plays and she tries her best to do what the coaches have taught her. I know she works really hard and deserved to have good things happen to her because of that. But I also know how sports work, and they don't always reward the hard work in a proportionate way. Just because a player puts in the time and effort, especially at age 12, doesn't necessarily mean good things will come that player's way. I try and teach my kids that the hard work makes good things more likely, but it doesn't mean they are guaranteed.

I was overwhelmed with a very specific message in my head while my daughter was running the bases. That message was simply,

"She'll always have this, she'll always have this, she'll always have this."

With a small part of me thinking,

"Slide, slide, slide!"

I think that is something I think a lot of parents I see at games miss. They get so caught up in what the future may hold for their child if their child performs well, that they miss the fact that their child is actually playing the game right then in front of them!

Whether my daughter plays softball ever again or plays softball for the rest of her life, I won't care, as long as she is playing or not playing because of what SHE WANTS TO DO. But no matter what happens, I know she will always have this one night. This one night when it all came together for her like she had hoped. A night when she accomplished even more than she thought she was capable of ever doing.

As a parent you always wonder if your child gets it when it comes to complicated things like competitive sports and all the dynamics that play into that experience. I have true evidence that my Savannah gets it. In the car ride home after this game the one thing she said that made me know she gets it was this.

"Dad, when I was coming around second base and saw the ball still in the outfield and I knew I was going to get a home-run, I just started giggling and couldn't stop... like giggling out loud... like if you filmed me running, you will see me giggling."

As a parent, it's not the memory of your daughter's home-run that will last a life-time, but it's hearing your daughter tell you she was giggling uncontrollably out-loud while rounding second.

That will be what I will remember. Forever.

From coach to comedian: Marty Simpson is a former USA Today high school All-American and collegiate Academic All-Conference player for USC who scored the Gamecocks' first 6 points in the SEC. During 8 years as a high school varsity coach, Simpson led his team to the state finals and saw one player advance to set an NFL rookie record. Simpson now divides his time between his family, running a multimedia company named Blue-Eyed Panda and getting the same pre-game jitters by performing stand-up comedy nationwide.

Check out Marty's performance dates here.

3 Response to 'Have You Ever Lost Your Mind Over Your Own Child?'

  1. Deanne G Said,'> June 4, 2012 at 3:41 PM


  2.'> June 25, 2012 at 2:15 PM


  3. Shwetablog Said,'> October 26, 2018 at 2:41 PM


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