Thursday, April 9, 2009

When You Can't Coach


I sucked as a soccer coach. I volunteered to be in charge of a team of eight boys playing six-on-six soccer (they were 5 year-olds). Even with my soccer-playing older daughter giving me tips, I managed to lead the team through a season where we lost every game. (Hey, no one keeps score at that age, right? Um... ok.)

Thankfully, the next time I coached, I was paired with a dad who was such a good athlete, his jersey was retired in high school. (I think my school retired a TI-55 calculator in honor of me.) We led our team of boys to an undefeated season and league championship. (Damn straight, we kept score!)

Okay, so I rode that dad's coattails to coaching glory. I've since retired from the youth sports coaching ranks. I went out a winner! (My son thinks that's funny. He takes it all with a grain of salt, and ribs me about our losing season.)

I believe it's important for every parent to show their kids they have a passion and talent for something. Whether that's soccer, camping, fishing (I love TentCamper's big catch), cycling (here I am with Lance Armstrong at the Tour of California), cooking (I hold the patent on the worlds best hamburger recipe), stamp collecting, robotics (the science fairs at our local school are quite competitive), knitting, rescuing animals, whatever - I think kids benefit when they see their parents engaged with life, even more so when the parent can share those experiences with their kids. (As a coach, mentor, etc.) Kids like to know their parents are good at something.

For me and my son, that connection has come through music. My dad played trumpet, I played trumpet, my son plays trumpet. For years, I gave him trumpet playing tips to help him excel and stand out. Things were going great. So much so, the school band director said my son had chops and was ready for a real private teacher.

At first, I hated the idea of being replaced as his trumpet teacher. Granted, I was a too lax with him. I taught him all the cool stuff (how to hit high notes, and how to twirl his trumpet like he was in the Earth Wind and Fire horn section), and none of the boring technical stuff. I knew he'd benefit from someone teaching him a more disciplined approach. I hired a teacher.

My son really enjoys his trumpet lessons. He's improving as a musician every single week. And the cool thing for me, I haven't been left out.

At the end of each lesson, his trumpet teacher and I start talking shop. We trade knowledge about mutes and mouthpieces, share stories about gigging, reminisce about songs we've both played, swap anecdotes about cool cats we've hung with (yeah, he talks like that), name-drop like crazy about famous musicians we've met, tell funny stories about playing in a band that only other musicians would relate to. The trumpet teacher and I are part of an ad-hoc fraternity that anyone who has ever played an instrument beyond high school can relate to.

My son sits and listens to these war stories with a smile on his face. Maybe he's looking forward to his own future experiences.

Or maybe he thinks his dad is pretty cool.

David Mott authors the blog Dad's House - Dating and Parenting by a Single Dad.

22 comments:

Blogging Mama Andrea said...

I bet he thinks his dad is pretty cool. I don't think teenage boys think beyond the moment.

That's wonderful that you have this experience to share with him. I hope I turn my love of reading over to my kids. I'm not gifted with musical instruments, or painting or photography. I'm good at reading and writing so I hope my kids can learn to appreciate it and find a bit of that for themselves.

Tsquared417 said...

I wholeheartedly agree and I'm sure your son, whether he admits it or not, thinks you are very cool!

Sass said...

Great story!

So far, my oldest daughter shares my love of writing...hopefully she'll take it farther than me!

The Exception said...

I am not truly talented at anything (that my daughter needs to know about that is!). But I love life and have a passion for learning and exploring. That is what my daughter and I share. We travel whenever possible, attend a variety of shows, explore the world around us (nature etc) and are ready to go whenever the opportunity appears.

It is wonderful that your son shares your joy in playing the trumpet. And of course he thinks you're cool... and he will think it that much more when you get that dog! ;)

MindyMom said...

Yeah, you're pretty cool Dads. I'm sure your son thinks so too and it's nice to share a common interest when you can.

Nora said...

Your son definitely thinks you rock. I think all boys think their dads are awesome. My son thinks I'm so lame. Unless he shows some cheerleading prowess, I don't know what I can coach for him. I'd give soccer a shot, but would probably rival your first experience.

Well done David.

Susan said...

A band geek after my own heart. ;)Great post! It will be fun to continue discovering shared interests with my kids, whatever they may be.

~ Former flutist, french hornist, plus a two-year stint as drum major

Junction Mama said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Junction Mama said...

That's cool that you made a point of sharing your passion with your son. It's so important. And so HOT!
;)

Not a soccer mom said...

Great post. I love the trumpet story. I played the clarinet and hated it! my daughter also played but i didnt remember enough to help.
But everyday, my children see something that I like to do. Some they like too, others, like yard work, they see me do but dont necessarily see the benefits. maybe someday.
It is very important I agree.

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vinomom said...

That's a great point I've never really thought about. Kids probably really do like to see that their parents have their own special talents! Something they can admire.

I think it's awesome that you two share a love of music. I think I need to look into finding a similar pasion with my daughter.

Sandi said...

Love of music is huge in my home. I play the flute...am learning guitar....hubby does the drums, guitar and even did saxophone and trumpet in high school. Little bit of everything and now throwing some keyboard into the mix. Not to mention I sing as well. So yeah. We do a bit of it all. My kids are learning to love music just as much. My oldest daughter has taken up the drums now. I agree. It's a good thing!

T said...

Completely agree!!

And hoping that my kids will see a mom who still has a life outside of motherhood. I do hope to inspire them to have interests, hobbies and activities that make them feel proud.

Like they're proud of me.

:)

Sandi said...

I've got an award for your blog!

http://nothingofflimitshere.blogspot.com/2009/04/coolest-award-ever.html

Elaine at Lipstickdaily said...

He definitely thinks you're cool . . and who wouldn't? I love it that you can share that with him! And I'd love a license to the burger patent!

Daddy Geek Boy said...

I wish I had a modicum of musical talent, but alas, I do not.

I will probably end up sharing the joy of cartoons with my son. But I don't think this will allow him to view me as cool in any way.

Amber said...

I played trumpet in school, really enjoyed it. No one else I knew was interested in playing so I dropped it eventually. I'm glad you can support your son in the venture.

katherine. said...

my brother use to take his trumpet to Giants games to lead the cheer...you know the one I mean...

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