The sideline parents of kids' football teams

The mum-of-two frantically waved goodbye to her child and turned to the rest of us, sitting on the edge of the field.

The mum-of-two frantically waved goodbye to her child and turned to the rest of us, sitting on the edge of the field.

"He's about to go on, see you later. I'll be over the other side of the oval."

We all looked at each other. What the? She'd always seemed a perfectly normal mother. She was always on time, attentive to her son, warm and friendly to the other parents.

Her problem was that she just couldn't bring herself to watch her kids' football teams. She found it so nerve wracking that each week, she would drop her son at the sideline and then disappear over the other side of the oval, almost out of sight for the entire game. It seemed weird to me, but if I think hard enough, I guess there's a bit of weirdness in every one of us on the sidelines. And as the years have passed, I've decided that I'll take slightly weird over aggressive and scary any day.

One particular dad insisted on yelling out Every. Single. Play.

"Run forward Jack! Faster Jack! Behind you Jack! Pass it to Jack, Tom! Kick it left, Jack! Have a shot Jack! Pass it to Jack, Harry!"

Poor Jack. Football can't be fun if you're being screamed at for 40 minutes straight, can it?

Then there was the dad who turned down the coaching job, but felt he needed to impart his wealth of knowledge anyway. I remember him well. Not only did he constantly scream and yell at his child, he started screaming and yelling at everyone else's as well.

The problem was, he didn't know a whole lot about the game or about coaching kids' football teams. Polite glances from the other parents turned into annoyed, piercing stares within a few weeks, until the actual coach was facing a revolt.

During one game, after a particularly loud instruction from scary dad that would have led to a really bad play by our team, the coach approached. Politely, but firmly, he told scary dad to keep his thoughts to himself and let the kids have fun out there. The screaming stopped.

If children aren't having fun on the football field, you can bet they won't be signing up again next year. And in that big learning curve that is parenting, sometimes we have to be reminded to take a step back.