Toddlers, Tiaras & T-Ball

Competition.

While I’ve never thought that there’s anything wrong with a little healthy competition (see: heated games of Candy Land, Checkers & Sorry that have recently been played in our house), the last few weeks have reminded me that it can sometimes go too far.

A couple of weeks ago we started T-Ball.

EZ running the bases

I’ll admit up front that despite my legacy as JV Girl’s Soccer Captain in high school, I’m not much for sports. Beyond the X-Games or the Olympics, I don’t really watch sports on television, and will only be dragged to an actual sporting event if somebody I know is playing and demands I attend. However, we thought that T-Ball could be a fun activity for an energetic kid like EZ, and when his bff decided she wanted to play as well, we signed them up.

Now I spend my Saturday mornings watching a bunch of 4 and 5 year olds running around haphazardly,  tossing balls and having fun. We’ve seemed to luck out since the other kids and parents on his team (he’s an Angel) as well as his coach, share the same easy going, relaxed, “let the kids have fun” mentality.

I think they’re supposed to be practicing tossing the ball here… 

EZ & his teammates hopping around the field

However, that’s not the case for everyone. As EZ runs around (or sits next to me, not in the mood to play), I’m usually checking everyone else out. What I see makes my stomach roll at times: Other team’s coaches being a bit too loud and forceful as a four year old stares off into space, unwittingly allowing a ball to fly by… A parent decked out in full Red Sox regalia, standing right behind her son on the field, dictating his every move and getting visibly flustered when he fails to follow directions… A little boy crying because he’s just not having fun, yet is still forced to play.

It’s that sort of icky behavior and competition that I can’t get on board with. Perhaps that means I’m just not fit to be a “sports mom,” and that EZ won’t go on to bat in the national league. Or…maybe it means he will, because instead of feeling forced, he enjoyed the game. Who knows. (I’m secretly hoping he enjoys it for what it is now and leaves it at that, because otherwise I’ll end up being the worst mom in the world who doesn’t want to go visit her son at “work.”)

There’s grumbling and grimacing on my part, none too happy with the fact that some parents were taking T-Ball just a bit too far in my eyes. I realized that this was probably also only the tip of the competitive iceberg as far as kids and sports go. Then, I came home, caught up online, and thanked my lucky stars that I’m only dealing with T-Ball stuff and not Botox and virgin waxes.

What?

Yeah.

Beyond the world of competitive T-Ball, there are other arenas where children battle it out to emerge victorious, and one of them involves fancy dresses, fake tans, and tiaras. Despite my penchant for crappy reality TV, even I can’t bring myself to watch as little girls are exploited in the name of pageantry. While I’ve mostly turned a blind eye to it, the latest news from the pageant circuit made me more than uncomfortable.

When 8 year old girls are getting Botox and “virgin waxes,” and others are celebrating and promoting that? Something ain’t right.

There is competition and then there is injecting your child with botulism to erase wrinkles. At 8 years old. If there was a line crossed, it happened so long ago that it’s a blur in the distance at this point. I won’t even get into the messages that are being sent when an 8 year old girl feels like she needs Botox, waxes and who knows what else to feel “pretty.” What’s going to happen at 10 or 12 or 16 when those aren’t enough?

Perhaps it is too simplistic to remember the whole “let kids be kids” sentiment, but in an age where somebody in the medical field is providing Botox for pageant kids, I think I’m okay with simple.

Whether it’s T-Ball or tiaras, the push for such fierce competition at such a young age unnerves me. While I’m beyond relieved that I will most likely not have to deal with such things as Botox and virgin waxes, I’m also not so sure what else is simmering beneath the T-Ball surface. This first foray into sports will certainly be an interesting one…

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