Monday, November 2, 2009

What's Next?

The other night my friend Amy and I were having one of those great conversations that only the oldest of friends can do. I was cleaning up dinner and surfing the internet while she was changing a dirty diaper and getting her babies ready for bed. We had lots to catch up on and we somehow ended up on the subject of good parenting which led to a conversation about my coaching philosophy because it's really my only point of parenting reference. I was telling Amy a story about how my 7th grade volleyball athletes earned their spandex and new jerseys through hard work and showing their dedication and discipline. There was one day when my assistant coach and I were discussing my blow-up argument with the band director...

"Wait. You got in a fight with the band director? That's a story I want to hear" Amy interrupted.

She's is a pretty interesting story. Forget about my volleyball players - let's hear about Laura's temper and stubborness!

One day the band director called down to the coaching office and asked for me to release my 7th grade volleyball players from afternoon practice without having to make it up so they could have ample time to go home and change and eat before their band concert that night. I told her that I would compromise and let them out at 4:45 because I wasn't going to give them up for one entire after school practice. A few more words were exchanged on the phone and my closing statement was "I'll just go speak with the principal." So there.

After frantically searching the school for my principal, he was nowhere to be found and I was forced to return to my coaching office, still fuming at the audacity of the band director to try and boss me around. I could practically feel my heels digging into the ground - there was no way I was going to let her push me around!

To my surprise when I walked in the office, she was casually standing against the file cabinet and looked at me sweetly (a sweetness that didn't quite reach her eyes, I might add) and said "Laura, I felt like I upset you on the phone."

With arms crossed I answered her "You did." Although to be quite honestly, I am sure it came out more of a growl than a polite reply.

To make a long story short, she and I are on opposite sides of the ideological fence which is perfectly fine...but that doesn't mean she gets to decide how I run my program. I had no problem with letting my athletes out of practice 45 minutes early but she was never going to tell me that I shouldn't make the band students make up practice when they miss an entire after school practice. Our conversation went round and round with each of us staunchly defending our point of view and with me at one point responding to her comments of a previously unsuccessful volleyball team with "Yeah...that's why I'm here." Ooh...that didn't go over real well with her...but quite frankly, I didn't care that much. Eventually our conversation ended with me suggesting that we take it to the principal since she and I couldn't come to a conclusion that both of us would be pleased with.

After she left I fumed and fussed about exactly WHY I was being so stubborn. Was it because I truly believed that I needed that 45 minutes with my kids after school? Yes...I did because on the typical day most "team" activities and drills are done directly after school because our classtime is spent warming up passing and serving. Was I being so stubborn because I really didn't like how she approached me and I just didn't want her to get her way? Well...maybe a little bit. Or did I truly believe that I was indeed compromising and doing what was best for those cream of the crop kids that are involved in several activities? Absolutely.

So I took my concerns to my principal and I began the conversation this way:

"I'll be totally honest with you Mr. Principal. My mom is half Italian and Cajun and sometimes when I'm caught off guard I won't be the nicest of people and unfortunately I wasn't."

I totally owned up to my less than courteous behavior, but I also defended my point of view and spelled out the bottom line for my principal: I am trying to compromise with her but I won't allow someone to dictate the philosophy that drives my program. And he agreed so that was that. It wasn't until I walked away that I realized I was shaking.

After relaying this story to Amy we started the "what's next" discussion. All through life our maturity and progression has been measured by learning certain lessons or reaching a new goal. Getting through adolescence meant knowing right from wrong, choosing the right friends and managing time well. Becoming a young adult meant paying bills on time, RSVPing when asked and knowing yourself. I can check all that what?

I think the story I just told is a good example of the next bit of wisdom or life lesson that is ready for me to tackle: not just knowing myself but standing up for what I believe in even when it's not "lady like" or "proper." There are certainly times when stomping your foot down and saying "NO" isn't socially acceptable, but necessary to defend what you deem is right. Did I make a new friend at work through this interaction? not. But did I stand up for what was best for my program and for my athletes and teams? Absolutely and that's what is important.

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