Every Party Needs a Pooper

Today’s topic: helicopter parents. They really grind my gears. They grind my gears so much, in fact, that this rant is going to be obnoxiously long.

Nothing will ruin someone’s coaching experience like the parents, and no cheer season is complete without at least one parent incident. . . And so my story begins . . .


This past week, the gym that we  practice in was not available on one practice days. Instead of cancelling practice, we decided to have practice at a park because our competition is next weekend.The head coach sent the parents the details and told them to dress their girls warmly. She also stressed that it was extremely important that the girls come to practice.

The problem:

Only 2/3 of the girls showed up. The lack of girls present was a big problem because with that many girls missing, it was nearly impossible to practice the routine. Not surprisingly, the girls that didn’t show are the ones that need to practice the most, and most of them are habitual absentees.

The following practice, I asked the 8 absentees why they didn’t show up for the outdoor practice. None of them had a valid excuse. Most of them said “I don’t know. . . just because.” One girl flat out told me that she didn’t come because she didn’t want to practice in the cold weather (it was in the high 50s, mind you — not exactly cold by our standards).

If the girls who did not show up had had legitimate excuses (ex: their parent had to work, they were sick, they had too much homework, etc.), then I would have accepted their absences and moved on. Laziness is not a legitimate excuse.

My response:

The rest of the coaches and I agreed that the girls who showed up deserved a reward. They had toughed out the chilly weather. They took their commitment to the squad seriously and they worked hard.

So, I brought them cupcakes the following practice and told them it was a reward for showing up to practice. I gave the cupcakes out at the end of practice and the girls weren’t allowed to eat them until they left.

To make sure that the absent girls didn’t feel too left out or bummed, I brought Halloween pencils and candy to give to every girl (whether or not she had been at the outdoor practice).

Enter, the Helicopter Mom:

The following practice, Helicopter Mom (HM) showed up raising holy hell that her daughter didn’t get a cupcake. I wasn’t at practice because of school, so HM had no qualms about yelling and badmouthing me to the other coaches (people get pretty brave when you aren’t there to defend yourself).

HM has 2 daughters on my squad. One is dedicated and hard working. The other is Cry Baby (CB), who never tries. No matter how hard we try to make it fun for her and engage her, she’s aloof. CB has a history of–you guessed it–being a cry baby. We give out the “Spirit Stick” every practice to the girl who tried the hardest that day (every girl gets it once), and CB bawled her eyes out and pouted the day that her sister got it.

Fun fact: CB is the one who told me she didn’t come to the outdoor practice because she felt it was “too cold.”

The Wrath of HM:

This is HM’s tirade in a nutshell: Other kids should not be rewarded for doing something good unless CB gets the reward too. Whether or not CB does anything to deserve the reward is completely irrelevant.

Apparently, CB went home and cried after she didn’t get a cupcake, because it made her feel left out. CB was so distraught over not getting the cupcake she didn’t earn that she took it personally. Her feelings were so hurt, in fact, that she stayed home from the next practice.

HM was so irate that I did not reward her daughter for doing nothing that she took the matter to the cheerleading director. The director then sent out a very nice email to all of the coaches informing them that food rewards are not allowed. (Oh, silly me! I get it now! Next time I’ll make sure to hand out $5 bills or awesome hair bows as rewards instead of cupcakes–clearly that’s more appropriate and won’t result in CB’s hurt feelings.)

My response:

You’ve got to be kidding me. Fine, HM, you win–I will not longer hand out rewards to anyone. If I’m not allowed to reward the girls who have earned it without giving your undeserving daughter a reward too, then that totally undermines the entire reward system. So, my solution is that no one ever gets rewarded.

Let’s just sum up the reasons why this is ridiculous:

You don’t get a reward unless you deserve it.

CB flat out told me she didn’t show up because she didn’t want to come — laziness/not caring isn’t a legit excuse.

There were 8 girls who didn’t receive cupcakes; it’s not like CB was singled out.

Those 8 girls still received a prize (even though they didn’t deserve it), just so they wouldn’t be upset.

My biggest issue here is this… WHAT ARE YOU TEACHING YOUR CHILDREN??? You’re teaching them that everything in life will get handed to them and that they will never face a hardship that mommy can’t fix. Newsflash, HM, life isn’t always fair. By being a helicopter parent, you’re setting CB up for a lifetime of hurt.

I want to make it clear that I love when parents are involved in their kid’s life — seriously, I do. I think that it’s extremely important that my cheerleaders’ parents take an interest in cheerleading. With that being said, there is a line that should not be crossed.


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