May 21st, 2014 § Leave a Comment
An honest look at myself, all 5’9″ 145 of me, and I knew a basketball player wasn’t coming from me. No. Nor a football player. The apple falling from this flimsy tree was going to get his shot in baseball. Most likely, as a middle infielder. Hit for average; flash a little leather. So, although my sport was basketball, the game to which I steered my son was baseball. Bought him a glove, taught him to catch and throw, and got him into Little League.
It was all going to plan. He was the best player on his team. No, really, I’m being objective here. A solid, if not a power hitter, but more importantly he fielded his position well. Toward the end of the season, he even turned a double play – snagging a line drive and flipping to second to nail the runner straying off the bag. After the last game of the season, with visions of Davey Lopes dancing in my head, I asked,
So, how’d you like baseball?
Eh…it was okay.
Just okay? You played really well. It was fun, no?
Yeah, I guess.
Do you want to play next year?
Mmm … no, I don’t think I really want to do this again.
Just like that. So long, Davey Lopes. As we exposed our kids to various things, we told ourselves we weren’t going to push. We felt those parents shoving kids into everything, riding them hours on end to squeeze prodigiousness from an average fruit was borderline abusive. No way we were going to be one of those parents.
A year later, we had our older two in a community swim league. Sure enough they took to it like ducklings to water. By the end of the eight week season, our son and daughter were making great improvements in their strokes and competing admirably in their events. At the end of the swim season, with visions of Natalie Coughlin dancing in our heads, we asked,
So, how’d you like swim?
Yeah…it was fun. I liked it.
Cool. You two were sure good at it. It was so fun watching you compete.
So, swim team next year?
Mmm … I don’t know. Maybe. I’m not sure if I want to do it again.
What! We realized right then that if left to themselves, they were going to choose the path of least resistance. As parents, we have to be careful not to force our children into stuff because we need for them to excel for our benefit. At the same time, it is our responsibility to teach diligence, hard work, discipline, and commitment. If we allow them to quit anything they don’t “like” then they’ll imagine a world revolving around their whims. Comfort and pleasure will be dials on their compass and quitting will be a solution to difficult problems.
The deal was they were going to swim for at least two more seasons. We told them that once they had put in some good work and developed in the sport, they would be free to make a decision on whether or not to continue. If at that point they realized that swimming just wasn’t their thing, then fine.
Today, they are, all three, excellent competitive swimmers. I think if you asked them, they would each tell you that they are grateful for having been pushed some.