No matter how much you may be tempted to, you really shouldn’t make faces like Tom Hanks every time your kid messes up at their piano recital. They may not be able to see you in their over their shoulder, in the corner of their eye. But most of the other parents in the audience probably will, including your wife.
On the other hand, it’s just fine to hum or whistle Habanera from Bizet’s opera Carmen at your kids’ little league games. These kids are way too young to remember the Bad News Bears movie, so rather than being offended, they’ll just think you’re some kind of classical music buff. In fact, most other parents are under 40, so they never saw they Walter Matthau film, all they’d know is the Billy Bob Thornton version, which far fewer people saw and I don’t even know that they used the same music in the score.
It isn’t easy to live vicariously though your kids.
Its amazing how stressful piano recitals can be, even after you made your children practice their songs three times an hour for two days before. Not only are other people’s kids mistakes easier on your nerves when they come from a piano than a trumpet or say a clarinet- but in fact, each wrong note, each stumble and delay at every key change and every awkward pause at the end of a line or turn of a page actually ease the stress, guilt and embarrassment you feel about your own kids mistakes. Errors simply say, “Relax, nobody else’s skids are perfect, its not a competition anyway (but if it were, thank God my kid’s not really THAT much worse than anybody else’s kid).”
It must be hard on kids (like mine) who’re atheletic, but have parents who are, shall we say, kinesthetically dystopic. Yes, we’re the parents who wonder why other (former jock) parents always seem to scream so much and want to tell remind them that “it’s just a game,” and “its supposed to be fun,” but of course we don’t because, we were never as assertive as jocks anyway. Besides good sportsmanship, reasonableness and civility by their very natures don’t force themselves on others.
What’s really fun is when your kid reaches the point where they’re the oldest ones on their team (but still too young to advance to the next level).
When this happens, if your kid is good (but not necessarily phenomenally great) they get to be pretty much the greatest one on the team, or at least the best kid on a mediocre team. Which, I should make clear is not a bad team perse, its just that they’re 7 & 8 year olds so they’re still tempted to play in the dirt instead of paying attention because, hey, they’re practically 6 year olds. Therefore, even if their parent was an all-stater in high school, your 9 year old, who is pretty decent, although not really a future olympian, looks like a prodigy by comparison.
This is living (vicariously)! Especially for someone who was always asked to play umpire at recess because while their classmates trusted me to be impartial, they didn’t trust me to hit, catch, throw, or run. Being ump beat getting picked last or not picked at all. It meant they liked me enough to not want to hurt my feelings even though they also didn’t want to have to put up with my ineptitude.
So what that I really didn’t learn to catch till I was in my twenties when my brothers-in-law had enough patience and pity to teach me how? I can still tell my kids that I went to high school with World Series MVP Curt Schilling! OF course, he was a couple years ahead of me and we went to a school with like 2,600 kids, so I never actually met the guy… but they’re uncle sat behind him in Algebra, I guess. That’s what living vicariously is all about, Charlie Brown!