Today I was embarrassed to be my kid’s mom

You want honesty? You got it.

I am down. I am sad. I am frustrated. And I am wishing my kid was not so goddarn difficult.

I have written before about how my kids are high-maintenance. But lately Gracie really seems to easier to manage, as she verges on turning four. She’s being a pretty typical kid, actually. Annie, however – who is now 6.5 years old – is still high-maintenance.

Actually, after this morning, I’m not even sure high-maintenance is the correct term. Today the words crybaby, poor sport, and selfish all come to mind.

I hate thinking this way about my own kid.

But it’s so frustrating and embarrassing, being THAT family who has THAT kid. The one who’s crying and being difficult while everyone is happily playing.

Sometimes it’s at a friend’s house for a party. Sometimes it’s on vacation. And sometimes, like today, it’s at a kid’s activity, like soccer.

Today, while everyone else was playing, Annie was crying about being tired and complaining the practice was boring. Loudly. In front of everyone.

Then she was crying and whining on the sidelines while she clung to me. And she was the only kid doing this. It was both incredibly frustrating and incredibly embarrassing.

Sure, some other kids weren’t all that interested in the practice (which comes after the game – sucks, but that’s the way it is). At least they kept it to themselves, asked to take a break, and sat on the sidelines.

But Annie was crying and carrying on.

Kids were staring at her. Parents were watching her. I was internally freaking out, trying to manage a slightly bored Gracie who wanted to go the the playground while Annie was carrying on.

Oh, and Hubs is an assistant coach for Annie’s team, so he was helplessly looking on from the field, managing the other kids.

Finally, after hissing at Annie to pull it together, for chrissakes, I myself pulled it together, gave her a snack, and helped her calm down. Then Hubs bribed her with a trip to Dunkin Donuts afterwards to come back and play.

Yeah. You can send that parenting award to us anytime, now.

Annie says she wants to play soccer. She enjoys playing in the backyard and she loves the games on Saturdays. And she was thrilled to pieces that Hubs volunteered to be a coach. But what it comes down to is that she only wants to play the game. She doesn’t want to practice.

“This is boring” is a common complaint of hers when she is acting like this – even if it’s a favorite activity or a party she was just enjoying. I really hate to say it – I do – but it seems if things don’t go the way she wants, she freaks. But only in public and with groups (lucky us!). She’s not like this at home. It’s bizarre.

If this was just happening at soccer, I’d naturally conclude – okay, maybe soccer isn’t for her. Seems weird, because she likes playing at home and with friends, but whatever. Maybe team sports aren’t her thing.

Or maybe she’s tired from school just starting. That’s possible.

Or maybe she’s just having an off day. Maybe.

But why, then, does Annie act like this on other occasions? Why is she the one who, when losing interest or getting frustrated in public, starts whining and crying and carrying on? Why are we always the family who ends up leaving early because our kid is having a tantrum while everyone else is enjoying themselves? Why is she so hard?

So what are we doing about it?

Hubs is a fixer, like most guys. I wallow. Then I attempt to fix. So after I spent some time wallowing, we talked about what to do, and Hubs took action.

He sat Annie down and explained that there are two parts to soccer: practice and the game. She has to do both. She can takes breaks if she’s tired.

And there are two rules: No crying (unless you are truly hurt) and no being rude. Then he asked: Do you still want to play soccer?

And Annie said yes. Without hesitation. She loves soccer. That’s not the problem. Even though I just rhetorically asked why Annie is so hard, I think I know the answer. The problem is her attitude, combined with a touch of social anxiety. But just because I know what the problem is, doesn’t mean I have the answers.

So will Hubs’ laying down the law work? I have no idea. But it’s worth a shot.

And as for now, I’m just looking forward to a verrrrrry early bedtime.

Do your kids act like this, too? Only about sports, or about anything and everything? What do you do about it?


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29 Replies to “Today I was embarrassed to be my kid’s mom”

  1. This is my child. Turns out she is putting on a show just for us. (We’re so lucky!) If I don’t acknowledge it or pay her any attention when she behaves like this, she gets over it a lot faster.
    Unfortunately, that is a lot easier said that done. I hope soccer goes better for you with Hubs laying down the law. You are not alone.

  2. Ah, you’ve just defined parts of my relationship with my oldest. For some reason, I can more easily deal with my younger two and their difficulties. But it’s the stuff with my oldest that I get so frustrated with, and I yell at him to suck it up or get mad when it’s embarrassing.
    I’ve found that in the moment I can’t work it out. But later on – either at bedtime or having ice cream or out for breakfast just the two of us – we can talk it thru. And with my guy, what seems to look like stubbornness or general difficulties ends up happening because of his anxiety over *something* but he can’t express it in the moment.
    And I think, now, after lots of self-reflection, it’s that anxiety that I had as a kid and now I see it it him. Doesn’t make it easier though.

  3. I love your posts. Such a good name for you; Honest Mom! You truly are an honest Mom & good for you getting out there and blogging and posting what the rest of us are all silently (& sometimes silently) going thru. For the record, I can totally relate, as a Mother of two young boys (4 & 6), to what you’re dealing with!!! I mean, absolutely totally!!! Keep forging on like the rest of us, good luck, and thanks for your great posts! Us frustrated Moms definitely feel akin to your pain! Good to share & realize that there are others like us! Happy weekend, after first week back at school!!! & PS – I gave up on soccer. Feel very guilty about it!

  4. I totally applaud your honesty. My kids are way younger than yours so we haven’t reached this yet but I can picture being in your shoes and feeling like you described. It’s hard to detach and parent during my kids’ freak outs.

  5. I know exactly where you are. My daughter sulked & cried and acted miserable in soccer and softball and anything that wasn’t immediately incredibly wonderful. It’s so embarrassing and frustrating as a parent. It’s good your daughter will hopefully work thru this and enjoy sports. Ive concluded that team sports aren’t my daughters thing. She doesn’t care if she wins or loses. This is foreign to me! And she doesnt have fun either? Sigh. Thankfully she’s more cheerful on the sidelines. The best I’ve learned is to take her away but not do what she wants, so maybe she cries & yells in the car until she calms.. Long term this strategy should work?! Lol. I hope! Good luck !

  6. First of all I have to say that I always feel like I’m the only one with the kid freaking out. If you think about the fact that there is probably one of us at every single kid-centered event out there then you won’t feel so alone.
    Second of all it still sucks. My almost 5 year old does the same, she completely acts out at times when I would think, from her personality, she wouldn’t. She sees an occupational therapist for some fine motor issues and the therapist was explaining the other day that when kids feel incompetent in some area they compensate/act out in another. So for us, when my daughter feels incompetent with small motor tasks she starts goofing around, bugging her brothers, running off, etc. Maybe it’s something similar? Either way hope it is bedtime by now and you are having a glass of wine.

  7. My son is like that and about everything. He is almost 4 and at this point I am so worn down. I love him dearly, more than life, but the constant, whining, complaining, and hyperactivity is draining. I have a 1 year old daughter and even though we have been through infancy and all the tough part of raising her, she has not come even close to the work we have to put into my son. I wish I had a magic pill, and if you find one, please let me know. Like I said, I love him dearly, but I’m exhausted.

  8. Oh- you were me today! We have the opposite problem, my son loves the practices, but today was the first game and I was MORTIFIED. It was so embarrassing, he finally had to leave the field because he could not pull it together and was crying. He was totally THAT KID. It was the worst.

    1. I know this was a few years ago but did you find anything that works? My daughter is the the team cry baby. She loves practice and she will play for 30 seconds maybe twice a game and do great, but after just one play she just starts crying and most of the time doesn’t stop… I just don’t know what to do

      1. Well yes it definitely got better! By the end of the season, even a few games in, he was more engaged and to be honest I can’t even remember the experience of him crying at the first game! We have kept up with soccer because he enjoys it. He is now almost 8 and still does a lot of standing around and not paying attention, but now that he is older I understand this part of his personality better and have come to accept it. Sometimes they make him play goalie, which is a bit stressful. Thanks for replying and reminding me how far we have come! Everything is fleeting, one day you’ll laugh about it. Good luck!

        1. Thank you for the reply! I feel like she has anxiety when it comes to scrimmaging and games. My husband wants to just pull her out. How did you handle him crying? We are 3 games in and she has cried at all of them… I continuously try to encourage her and try to motivate her to go back in the game. I even thought about telling her that she has to stay on the bench during the games, and let her choose to play… No more continuous babying from me. Not sure if that’s a good idea?? Did you ignore his behavior??

          1. Well I would not baby her. I think you are right, there is probably some anxiety involved. I just always stressed that it’s all about fun, and if it’s not fun then don’t do it. And as long as you have fun then you can’t lose. I also remember giving him personal goals for each game- like “I will not lie down on the field” and “I will try to kick the ball at least once during the game”. Maybe having a personal victory could make it more exciting and take the pressure off. I think while she’s off the field you should probably give her some space and yeah- letting her chose to play might be a good idea. I hope it gets better!

      2. Hi Nicole, I just saw your comment. Talking to Annie the way I described in the post worked for us – in general. Getting there early and having her start passing the ball around with a friend also helped her get into the practice. A lot of it was her anxiety about being in a big group. I had to tell myself not to care what others thought and just support Annie and try to help her feel comfortable. If she wanted to watch, we let her watch. Eventually she saw kids were having fun and joined in. And of course… time helped. Annie is now 9.5 and she adores soccer so much that she’s on a club team and a town team. Good luck to you – I totally understand!

  9. All three of my older ones can be embarrassing at any given time. The four year old is, well four, so that’s his excuse. But sometimes what the other two do makes me feel like the worst parent ever. I just try so hard to remember that everyone’s child acts like that sometimes, although when you’re in the throes of it, that’s hard to remember.

  10. I love your blog and read it regularly. Soccer practice IS boring and probably made even more so after the game.

    I am the mother of four; the oldest is 25 y/o. He was always the squeaky wheel and having the meltdown while the others rolled with it. Many baseball, soccer, and tennis matches made me want to unclaim him publicly. I overheard a parent say very loudly at a tennis match in which my son was acting very frustrated say, “Where are his parents? They need to train their kid on how to act. He is a brat.” That was so hurtful. Other parents had no idea how hard he tried to fit in and how hard we tried. As it turns out, after childhood/teenage years, he was diagnosed in college with social anxiety, ADHD, and Asperger’s. He was such a sweet but unhappy kid. He tried so hard. It IS hard being a mom. I have no advice for you other than trust your gut.

  11. I so feel for you, and wish I had some more substantial advice. It sounds like you’re doing your best to listen to her and help her cope with what she’s feeling, but I understand your feeling of embarrassment over it too. I hope the next soccer practice goes more smoothly!

  12. Well, I certainly could have written this. I’m always the one with the out of control kid. I see other kids pitch the occasional fit, but my kid is the one consistently ruining every outing or get together. Every single one. I can’t tell you how much wallowing I’ve done about it. 🙁

  13. Ugh, I hate always feeling like my kid is THAT kid. Everyone tries to sort of make you feel better (“Oh, all kids are like that…”) , but seriously?! Pass me the migraine medication and remind me again why this parenting thing was a good idea…

  14. My daughter fits the tactile portion of sensory processing disorder. The mom above who mentioned the occupational therapist, thank you for leading readers to them. You will be in such anguish when you discover the pain your child is in living with an SPD. It’s an extra challenge for parents and it has so little attention, it’s difficult to get help (nor sympathy). All we can do is accept (my daughter engages in very little fun activities like sports, even bouncers, because of her over active sense of touch. My advice (and hardest to follow) follow her lead. I’ve sat next to mine at countless parties holding her while all the kids ran and played. It’s so disappointing but I find ways to smile our way through it as much as possible.

  15. Hi! Thanks for your fantastically honest blog!! My daughter is also like this. Funny story about soccer. My husband signed up to be her coach, she practiced with her team, she was ready to go, and then we get to the game. She will not go on the field. At all. She is crying and laying in my lap saying how much she hates soccer. She is saying this loudly and all the other parents around me, who know my husband and her dad is the coach are looking at me like i am CRAZY!! Her dad is the ONLY coach!! She did not participate in a single game until the last one that year!! Are you kidding me???!!! In fact, she would carry on most of the season for the first 3 seasons she played saying she hated it, until the last game or 2 which would prompt my husband to sign her back up!! I was so frustrated!! Of course, now she loves it. However, those early years were soooooooo hard. Everything about my daughter is hard. Every new experience, new situation is “the worst thing ever.” She’s 7 now, can’t wait for the teenage years!!!!

  16. Amen, yet again! We tried soccer this fall, and my kid was the ONLY one who acted like I was sending her to slaughter by leading her to practice with the other kids. Very hard for me to manage it (why are you acting like this!?). Eventually I gave up taking her. Now she is begging to go back (there is another season in the spring) and I am hesitant and hopeful. Same with dance, same with swim lessons. Big, hairy, public meltdowns and meanie me just getting irritated….

  17. Hi there …
    Im a 30 year old mother of 2
    My oldest son is 7 and Youngest is 31/2
    My son Evan is diagnosed with ADHD and hes a very emotional kid..
    He often speaks out in class or has temper tantrums ..
    Hes gotten better over the last couple years but hes still having the odd tantrum and his big problem now is that he Whines all the time , and cry’s over everything ..
    I think 7 years old is a bit old to be still having tantrums..
    Last night I brought him to soccer practice, this is his third year playing soccer and he’s pretty good at it .I told him when he signed up that If Im gonna put him in it he needs to want to play and have fun..
    He just cant go a practice without whining and complaining about something .. Sits down and compains so and so pushed me .. Or if he cant get the ball or misses a goal he gets upset and compains ..
    I mean this is something Ive been dealing with for basically his whole life.. Hes in grade 2 now and hes came along way.. I find he’s more worried about himself and never worrying about other kids.. He cant learn teamwork and he cant communicate affectively in social situations.. I am not sure what to do, I feel like pulling him out of soccer because hes not having fun and always complaining .. But he needs the time in a social environment and he needs the exercise.. How do I stop him from whining and crying constantly… ????

    1. hello, my son Ethan is 7, he is naturally good at all sports. Not a star by any means but good. Although he has a HUGE problem with losing. He gets mad and the meltdown starts. It started when he was 4 and I’ve tried everything. He can sometimes take control but others he can’t. When he’s having fun he’s unstoppable player, but as soon as he gets beat he freaks out. I don’t know if I should just take him out of sports right now or tough through it. I love my boy and he loves the games, if anybody has suggestions I’ll take them.

      1. I realize that this post is a year old but after having the same experiences with our 7 year old boy I’ve been looking for answers everywhere and I’m taking a chance you migh see this. We are trying everything to help our son just enjoy the game but as soon as he starts to loose it goes downhill quickly. This started when he was young and has gotten to the point we can not even play games as a family at home. He is an amazing kid just so competitive! I would just like to see if you have learned any tricks in the last year that have helped your son, and you, get through these hard moments. Thank you.

  18. Thank you for this post and the comments! Reading those made me smile after the most embarrassing first soccer practice ever… Socks, shirt, shorts everything was itchy.. Shoes (perfect size!) hurt… After crying so loud that everyone was looking at us (6 groups playing on the field at the same time) it was time for Mrs. Bacon-dance-will-screaming representation. Neither my husband and I could calm her down… She’s thankfully sleeping now… I felt so sad and yet mad at her 🙁 not a good feeling 🙂

  19. My 5-year-old daughter is the same way. I don’t know what to do. She attended special ed preschool because she had a speech delay (which she no longer has) and is now attending special ed kindergarten because of her temper tantrums, which she does not have at home, but her preschool teacher didn’t believe me when I told them that at her IEP meeting last year. I really want her to be mainstreamed for first grade, but I don’t know how to improve her behavior in order to make that happen.

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