I Won't Be Talking To You During My Kid's Game, And Here's Why

by Jacqueline Graham
Parents watching their kids in a hockey game
Hero Images / Getty

It doesn’t matter when I arrive. It doesn’t matter if we are great friends and spent Saturday night laughing for hours together, or if I have only said “hello” to you a few times. It doesn’t bother me if the sideline is full, packed at the best viewing spot mid-field, or the stands are filling for the championship game.

I sit alone.

I am not anti-social. I am, actually, super fun and very social, a fan of almost all kids, and friendly to all of the parents too. I wave hello or exchange small talk. I am happy to chat with anyone, and love to check in and say “hello.” Just not during the game.

But then it’s game time. And I am here for my kid. And that’s when I sit alone.

See, the days are long but the years, they are short. So short that I can remember being overwhelmed with so many games on a weekend that I wasn’t sure how we would get through it. And now, I would do anything to have our SUV become a rolling locker room again, full of stinky socks and uniform changes, packed snacks and rolling water bottles. Those were the days.

Now, my kids drive themselves to their games and activities. But I am always there at game time. I still miss the crack-of-dawn arrival times, night-before packing of blankets and snacks, sweatshirts and umbrellas because you never know what the day will be like when you spend 8 hours away from home at a ball field. I still choose to sit alone.

It’s because I don’t want my kid to look up at me mid-game and wonder why I’m laughing with Mrs. Williams, or not sitting where he saw me last, because I have moved to chat with Mr. Johnson. I don’t want her to look for me and see me staring at my smartphone instead of her game. I want to know when he is at bat and take video, so he can watch it back later with his dad, talking about what went well and what didn’t. “Thanks for video-taping my hit, Mom.” That’s what I live for.

I never want to miss the important stuff because I’m busy listening to someone complain about his kid’s playing time or why the coach doesn’t communicate well via email. I don’t want to be distracted by another mom talking about a teacher at school, another parent or a coach. And I certainly don’t want to spend my time on the sidelines hearing why a player should/should not be in the game, as we parents tend to overanalyze and make excuses. I am in no way saying that I am not guilty of all these things; I have just come to the realization that I would rather sit alone and enjoy the time my kid is on the court.

I sit alone so that one day, my kids will remember that I was at (almost) every game, and paid attention to the details so that we could share the experiences together afterwards. If she wants to talk about a player that was pushing her, I want to say “I noticed that, too.” If he says the ref made a poor call, maybe I’ll have it on video so we can watch it back and commiserate.

I want to watch alone. It’s my choice, and I am happy with it.