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I had no idea that I was expected to stop yelling my own child’s name with boisterous enthusiasm and begin cheering for her whole team in general once she left elementary school behind. I also was unaware that at the end of a game my child would head off the field with her peers and go directly to the locker room bypassing the family on the sidelines once she was around Middle School age.

I wish someone had told me that the same kid that waved to me every minute before taking the field, while on the field and while leaving the field would only surreptitiously nod to me while I was standing in the bleachers trying to surreptitiously get her attention and then only when no other teammates were in her vicinity. I believe this undesirable growth spurt occurred the summer before high school.

Maybe there should be a rule book not just for coaches and players but parents as well related to how your parental sideline behavior is required to change with age (theirs not yours!).

I’m not agreeing to completely follow the new rules but at least I would be in the loop.

When my daughter was little I was allowed to run on the field between quarters and hand her a water bottle or a Gatorade. I was even allowed to ask her if she needed to use the restroom. If her hair became unruly I was even permitted to re-braid it mid-game. When my son was little I was allowed to run on the field before the start because he left his mouth piece in the glove box or his cup in his backpack. I could even pat him on the backside for inspiration!

Nowadays I arrive with quiet dignity, greet the other parents in the stands and act rather non- nonchalant if and when my children happen to notice me.

If they do notice me I have to notice that they waved their stick in acknowledgement as if it were saying hello. I would not dare wave back or ever think to call them by name. Well none of that is true but I am working on it everyday!

I admit I preferred it much more when my kids thought my being in the stands was the coming of the next great thing after white bread! I loved when they craned their little necks to be sure I saw their goal and when they smiled because they heard me cheering above the crowd.

I know deep inside they still appreciate my being there to root them on and I even believe that they sometimes deep inside would still love a good wave. Yet all good things must come to an end. Peer pressure now dictates how I conduct my business on the sidelines.

So parents, here’s a bit of advice if your child is playing a sport from a young age.

Yell your hearts out, scream their names, jump up and down like a crazy person when they get the ball, or score a goal! Cross the field at half-time and hug them. Because before you blink the same child that ran to you on the sidelines the minute the game ended will now ignore you (or at least pretend to).

That is until you get home and no one else is around to hear them say, “Mom, how do you think I did today?”

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Lisa Leshaw

Lisa Leshaw has worked as a mental health professional for the past 31 years. She currently conducts Parenting Skills Workshops, Group Counseling for Blended Families and Empowerment Circles for Women. As a consultant, Lisa travels throughout teaching Communication and Listening Skills, Behavioral Management Techniques and Motivational Strategies. To de-stress she performs in children's theatre and plays piano whenever requested. She is hoping to either write the next memorable musical composition or Great American Novel!

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