We attended a softball parent meeting/pot luck dinner last night at the high school. Every year before the season starts, they hold these mandatory meetings so that the coaches can touch base with the parents about what to expect during the softball season. This year was the first time a pot luck dinner has been incorporated into the meeting.
As much as I sometimes dread going to such things, this was actually pretty enjoyable. Through all the years that Kacey has played softball within the community and on her high school team, we’ve developed quite a few friendships and acquaintances. The pot luck dinner provided a chance to reconnect with people we haven’t seen much of over the long winter.
When we arrived, we immediately found a group of parents with whom we’ve formed real and close friendships. These are the parents of the girls who have played on teams with Kacey since their earliest years in the sport. We all have girls who have played on the same summer team for the past several years. We’ll be enjoying one last summer with these folks before Kacey goes off to college and I’m looking forward to warm summer weekends, enjoying their company on the sidelines of a ball field.
As we talked, and then moved to find tables at which to sit and eat, I looked around the school cafeteria and saw other clusters of parents who were talking, laughing and catching up with one another as we were doing.
And then I noticed the lone woman. She sat all by herself at a table farthest from the main group of parents and softball players. Her back was set straight and her mouth formed a tight line. Her eyes stared ahead defiantly. She looked like an outcast, maybe because she actually was.
This woman was not a stranger to me, as she likely wasn’t to many others in the room. She is the wife of a man who coached Kacey’s team several years ago. I won’t bore you with the details, but this woman and her husband were not very nice people. They were selfish and their actions were only in the interest of promoting their own daughter, whether her athletic abilities warranted it or not. They had no idea of the meaning of sportsmanship. This couple was actively involved in our community athletic association for several years, and they used their positions to their own advantage instead of in the best interests of the program or the participants.
This woman and her husband were not nice people and they were not fair. And unfortunately for their daughter, children learn what they live. The daughter is one of those girls who none of the other girls really trusts. She became a mean girl, a very mean girl. This family burned many bridges over the years, but it took some time. For a few years after we cut our ties with them, I would still see this woman in the softball circles. She hadn’t changed, and yet there always seemed to be someone who had as yet failed to see her selfishness and arrogance. I guess people are, for the most part, forgiving. But people can only take so much before they cut their losses and walk away from a toxic relationship. In a room of about 200 people, this woman was left completely and utterly alone.
My family has been on the receiving end of this woman’s mean-spirited behavior. My daughter has been subjected to her daughter’s mean-spirited behavior. When Kacey was elected one of the captains of the softball team, this girl went out of her way to tell her and the other captains that they had not earned those honors, that no one actually liked them. (Funny, because the captains were elected by their peers.)
As we sat through the dinner and listened to the head coach’s spiel, I couldn’t keep my eyes from wandering over to this woman sitting all alone throughout the entire dinner and meeting. I have no reason to feel sorry for her, but so help me, I did. After all the mean-spirited and selfish behavior she has displayed towards us and towards many others whom we care about, I still felt sorry for her. She has never grown up.
I thought about seeking her out after the coach was done speaking, but I was stopped by an old school friend and by the time we finished talking, the woman was gone. I might have reached out to her had I had the chance, but I didn’t. And I doubt it would have made any difference in her mind whatsoever. The whole thing really shouldn’t bother me so much, but obviously it does. I am still thinking about her tonight.
How sad it must be to be her.