Monday, March 1, 2010

Walking the Tight Rope

When it comes to your kids, how do you when you've gone too far?

When does encouragement become dominance, pushy, not in the child's best interest? How do you that the direction your nurturing your child isn't going to totally screw them the hell up?

First Born Son has had more than his fair share of drama, starting in Grade 1 when a teacher sat across from me and insisted he had ADHD (he didn't - he was bored, and no, I'm not in denial - I would have accepted that had the Doctor agreed with her) through to Grade 3 when the name of a certain child in his class came up with more and more frequency in stressful situations until, in Grade 4, it became full blown bullying that I'm dealing with to this day.

Then there was the hockey coach last year who messed his head up but-good and sat him for a month. Followed by this year, when he broke his collar bone in November, and sat for a month and a half while he recouped. He's now in the midst of getting his groove back - and considering he's a goalie, when he's having a bad day, the whole team knows about it.

Each year my boys have three constants in their social/extra-curricular circles 1. Winter is Hockey, 2. Spring is swimming lessons, 3. Summer is softball.

The problem is, by the time you get to March/April when its time to sign up for ball, you're pretty overwhelmed with the hockey situation - playoffs have just begun/ended/middle of. But the conversation needs to be had.

"Sure, I'll play," says Second Born Son between mouthfuls at dinner that night. "I want to improve my swing." I am thankful for his realization that his swing stank all last season. I'll get him working on that and he's stubborn enough that he'll swing away until he gets it - God Bless His Bum!

Silence from across the table.

"FBS?" I ask.

"I'm going to the farm for a month this summer, so it's not fair to join a team and then not be around," he said.

"Uh, no you're not. You can maybe go for a week or two, and if you were on a ball team Uncle Bob would be fine with taking you to games - he did it last year and got a kick out of it," I returned.

"Well, if I do swimming, maybe that's all I'll do," he volleys.

And this is how it goes throughout the meal, until he finally comes out with the fact that he doesn't want to get hit with a ball (he goes up a year and pitch control can be a bit of an issue) but he also doesn't want to spend any more time than necessary with his nemesis. Who, I might add, is not as bad during ball season as he is during hockey, where they have to share the net on the same team.

I've coached him the past four years, which is likely too long, but held on because the head coach is amazing and has asked me to stick with him while he moves this group of kids along because he thinks they have potential. But I'm not coaching if my kid ain't playin'. It should be noted that FBS is a better than "good" ball player. Not "excellent" by any means, but has the potential to be. His team won the Consolation Championship last year and they all received team jackets - which he LOVED. It was the first title he had ever earned....

So where do I stop? Is this merely a stalling tactic on his part? Is it more about my desire to play than his?Do I tell him it's not negotiable? That he needs to be social with his friends during the 2.5 months of summer because without that he'll miss out on A LOT, or do I let him find his own way to socialize and run the risk that he won't at all. His suggestion is just "hanging out" around town....that went over badly for him. It's a different group that he chums with - they do get along well but there's not a lot of back and forth unless you put yourself out there.

If I let him sit out this season, he won't go back. He just won't.

This also goes hand in hand with his logic of not being a goalie next year in hockey. Again, understand where he's coming from, - two crappy years back to back. But this kid is not built for contact. He's lean and long, wiry and agile. PERFECT for a goalie. Deadly for a winger, suicidal for a defenseman.

Therefore, I'm at a crossroads and I'm not sure which is the best level of risk to take. Each has it's benefits, and then equal number of drawbacks. While I think I'd rather push him now and keep him active, it's long summer of "but I didn't want to play".

If anyone has the magic answer, I'm all ears!


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