*peers through clearing smoke* is it safe? are we back to the topic and paring down the number of question marks at the end of each query?
i should say that it's the seemingly limitless patience of mamas like fourlittlebirds and mamal_mama, over many years, which has schooled (unschooled? lol) me in the idea that people can really be comfortable with -- well, with being unimpressed with our paramilitary societal bent -- and still want to discuss things that come up when their kinder, gentler paradigms clash with it. it's a continuation of the refusal to 'sign up or drop out' idea. sure, you can do that... but as mamal_mama said earlier, if someone just drops out without saying anything, how would she learn?
what does it hurt to assume that everyone is doing their best at any moment? and following that, what does it hurt to assume that people (like this coach) are open to positive change? after all, an outdated attitude isn't incurable cancer - people are as capable of change as they are willing to be. yet the nature of human interaction seems to be down a path of least resistance. unless you resist - and it can be done kindly and respectfully - you're being a bit unfair to the other party yourself (i feel). leaving the team would send too broad a message, in my mind. at least if there's a particular issue being addressed, there's room for growth.
i think 'the best we can do' is often the best we can do only because we haven't been exposed to anything better. and by 'better' i mean, 'kinder'. short-tempered axe grinders are in ready supply. how many mother theresas can you think of? and she herself (it now seems)
was also filled with doubt. i think we all are. who knows what the end result of simply being as kind as possible to everyone, regardless of age, may affect the world?
i guess i'm not surprised that some posters to this thread can't seem to visualize what a world would look like where openness and kindness was a default reaction; posters who in fact seem alarmed by the very idea of challenging an authority figure in this way. (e.g. 'if we accommodate this one person, we'd have to do it for everyone! and the whole of sports comes screeching to an end!') even for me, it's hard to imagine our ruthlessly militaristic society not taking advantage of people who are simply not wired to be as self-serving and aggressive as the majority. still, i can't quite give up hope that we could try it and see. isn't the idea that sports couldn't be played at a high level by thoughtful people a little alarmist? i've played ultimate myself, in tournaments and everything. over 90% of the teams were made up of thoughtful, fun-loving, and enjoyable people. and 100% of them weren't coached by anyone. (there were usually one or two people with the idea for the team that went around gathering people up, but they didn't have any special authority.) and it was *fun to play*. which for me, was the point. it was revolutionary, the way people came and went freely, called equipment time outs to tie shoes or pull up underwear, the way you called your own fouls. the revolution will not be built upon blind acceptance of authority. this is radical unschooling we're talking about, after all. which it seems a lot of folks didn't grasp when they started posting on this thread. i'm no expert, either, but i'm certainly open.
going back to hipmama, when i first became aware of parenting issues as a political statement, i didn't have any kids myself (i still don't) but i was still suffering the wounds of having been treated as most of us are as kids, which is to say somewhere along the lines of third-class citizen. so my natural reaction was to defend how i was treated ('my parents are good ones! i turned out fine!') and simultaneously, to fume about how anyone could suggest treating their kids more kindly than i had been.
a bit unfair of me, wouldn't you say? fortunately, i was still young enough to recall, very clearly, what that injustice felt like - from the kid's perspective. which does help when you're trying to dig up some empathy that you don't think you can feel.
ultimately, the ruthless logic of treating people (including very young, very short ones) no less respectfully than you would want to be treated yourself wore me down. i started nannying for other people's kids and seeing for myself the real, live difference between talking *down to* kids and talking *with* them. the former made my life a lot more unpleasant, and the latter cultivated a real friendship that we could draw on when we were both beaten down (tired, hungry, upset - the usual things that crop up in daily life). and that foundation was absolutely necessary to enjoying my job as opposed to just struggling through the day. (dealing with much more regimented parents of these kids was a different story LOL).
as i raised two young brothers to school age, i realized the fruits of the authoritarian model were not ones i enjoyed harvesting. try as i might, i couldn't justify reducing the rank of kids i cared for just because they were kids - because other than age, there was no difference between them and me. they wanted the same things i wanted (to be heard; to have their autonomy respected; to feel secure in their bodies, their possessions, and their emotional expressions) and they wanted to be treated equally, which is to say democratically, in a group of people. the only justification i could call up for treating them as beneath me was convenience. and as i said, the 'convenience' didn't grow fruit i wanted to harvest. it wasn't actually convenient, it was just lazy of me.
when i go to the effort to extend myself, i get confident, happy, agreeable comrades - rather than sour-faced prisoners of my moods, rattling their tin cups on the cell door. which would you choose to spend your days with?
so i made some changes in my attitude, and with the next pair of young boys i raised i was careful to improve on my past mistakes. i made new ones, of course, but i was open to learning better and adapted more quickly when i realized i was being rigid or resistant out of habit. i also got better at admitting when i was doing something for my own comfort or convenience, rather than framing it as a benefit to our little team. kids are surprisingly forgiving when i'm this honest with them. they also reciprocate, which is very handy, and which is good practice for us all in gaining some emotional intelligence.
ultimately, it made my job harder for the kids to see me as an authority. i can't always guess what their bodies are telling them, but if i'm open to asking questions (rather than giving orders) then usually, between the two of us, we can figure it out. this isn't a popular method of dealing with children, not as parents, and certainly not as nannies. ('if the kids sleep when they're tired, then they won't sleep when *i* need them to!', - the same with meal-times, with the following of routines, etc.) it's about the needs of the grownups, which get an inflated value. when the adult's needs are inflated artificially this way, it becomes logical (in a way) to continue to inflate the needs of the grownups, even when the need is vanishingly unimportant - like the need for this coach to assert himself in some way. it seems clear to me that the needs of a person's body (if sudden, hard activity causes injury - why jog them around a field as the first step? this is completely illogical) should prevail over a person's need to assert the very small authority assumed in the position of volunteer coach. it's just that we no longer think about these things critically, because so little behavior in our society is based on critical thinking rather than tradition.
what we have in our society isn't a true democracy, it is capitalistic. valuing the input of someone based on how much financial weight they carry is the norm. here in this very thread it has been assumed (by people who seem to have overlooked or misunderstood the RU concept) that the coach's ideas or input are worth more than that of the players, even in matters that he can not possibly be knowledgeable about
, such as the needs or limits of another person's physical capability. he's a volunteer, and yet it is still assumed that he has some special knowledge about 'biology' or the science of sports injury that the untrained mind can not intuitively grasp.
so while i'm on a roll, let me just say something about injuries, and warming up: i have nannied eight little boys from birth to the age of five; i've marched them all over town, taken them out on bikes, ran them ragged at various city parks, encouraged them to do their best in swim lessons, and i have *never* seen an activity related injury on one of them. nor, i should point out, have i ever roused them from their beds, marched them down-stairs, and instructed them to do a few laps around the yard before they do anything else for the day in order to avoid injury. a basic principle in RU is trust, right? we trust our bodies, certainly more so than we need to trust a stranger who claims to be an authority on the subject. (prove yourself first, but i'm not following you just because your shirt says 'coach' on it). our bodies send us clear messages to prevent us from hurting ourselves. when we're not directed to do so by others, i find that we naturally start off at a slower pace in our days and pick up speed as that becomes comfortable, necessary, or enjoyable. this is the way our bodies normally operate. when we listen to them, we escape injury. when we ignore them (or put a coach's needs or directions above those of our bodies) we get injured. the danger is in ignoring the internal wisdom of our bodies, not in the engagement in activity. several other posters get this and have said it in other ways, i just feel it bears repeating.
anyway, though i have an athletic build and ability, it went unused as a kid because the sports/military paradigm was so deeply unattractive. i wish i had had the support of a mom like fourlittlebirds, or mamal_mama, to support me in the kind of activity i was willing to engage in rather than dismissing my natural attraction to physical activity as useless outside of the competitive sports model. as it was, i spent a lot of time in very solitary activities (biking, tree-climbing, reading, reading, reading, and writing) which left my life more than a little out of balance.
i was 22 years old, reading discussions on AP parenting, and working hard to explain to myself why other kids should be treated more kindly than i was. i got better. and i'm a terrific snot a lot of the time. if i can do it, anyone can. all it takes is an open mind - and the very important catalyst of someone asking me to think about it.
this is what mamas like fourlittlebirds did for me then. i'm thankful she has the patience, because about halfway through this thread i was ready to give up and just bang my head against the wall. she persevered, though. she never gave up! and now the thread has lived to see my incredibly long, unnecessarily autobiographical post. aren't we all better for it?? ha!
i'm just so glad that people, people with far more patience and humanity than it seems i ever will have, will step up and ask people to think about things like this. so much of our lives are spent in a rush to earn, gain, consume, (collapse), get up and do it again. when we reflect just a little bit, we gain some freedom. and freedom, as it's been said by the journal of radical mediocrity
, is only an unproductive day away.