By Brian Gotta, President of CoachDeck LLC
The first couple of times I saw this I didn’t think anything of it. But now that games are starting up again at the local fields, it appears to no longer be an anomaly but a trend. Parents everywhere are carrying their kids’ backpacks.
Everywhere I go, I see players getting out of their parents’ cars in the parking lot dressed in their uniforms ready to play. And next to them is their mom or dad carrying the player’s backpack up to the field. And I’m not talking about four or five year-olds; (though there is no reason they can’t manage a backpack), these are nine, ten and eleven year-old kids.
The packs do not appear to be very heavy. When I size them up with the player it seems clear to me this would not be an onerous burden. But, for some reason, the parent is the one with the strap over their shoulder, while the player trots along at their side.
This could be a case of a parent underestimating their child’s capabilities; still thinking of them as helpless babies even as they approach middle school. But my guess it is more likely just a habit they are in of doing everything for their youngster. It is simply a reflex. I fold your laundry. I make your lunch. I clean up your room. I do your dishes. I grab your backpack. Either way, it is probably not what’s best for the child.
It is never too early to teach children personal responsibility. Am I playing, or are you playing? OK, it is your game so get your uniform ready. You need to know where your pants, socks, cleats and jersey are, not me. Get them ready the night before the game so there is no drama tomorrow. Same with your gear. Make sure everything you need is in your backpack ready to go so you (notice I did not say “we”) are not looking for them when it is time to leave. This process may be a struggle at first, but soon it becomes a habit.
After I had started writing this article, sheerly by coincidence, I heard a book mentioned on a news program titled, “Make Your Bed,” by Admiral William H. McRaven, (USN Retired). The book is the offshoot of a commencement speech he gave which has gone viral and been viewed over 10 million times. In that speech he gives this advice:
“If you make your bed every morning you will have accomplished the first task of the day. It will give you a small sense of pride, and it will encourage you to do another task and another and another. By the end of the day, that one task completed will have turned into many tasks completed. Making your bed will also reinforce the fact that little things in life matter. If you can’t do the little things right, you will never do the big things right.”
I have not yet read the book. It arrived yesterday and I am looking forward to doing so, and to sharing it with my grown children. I wish I had heard this advice years ago because my wife and I did not demand that our kids make their beds every morning when they were young, and we should have.
But they did carry their own bags.
Brian Gotta is a former youth baseball coach and volunteer Little League board member. He is the President of CoachDeck and also author of four youth sports novels and a baseball coaching book which can be found at www.booksbygotta.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org