Aim Low

My son ignored my advice, and I couldn’t be happier.
See, he’s a football player, and a pretty good one according to his coaches. He plays football for hours on end in the yard because he loves the game so much. He gets caught watching Sports Center late in the night after he’s supposed to be asleep. And I’ve found him using Cheerios to make the “I formation” during breakfast.
He played his first season in pads this year, after moving from a league where “it doesn’t matter if you win or lose” to a league where the best 11 get the most playing time. He played a position that was completely new to him, and learned a lot about the game.
At the end of the season, he told me he wanted to try out for a different position next year. A position that requires strengths he hasn’t yet developed. And I did what any good mom would do. I encouraged him to aim low. Be reasonable. “Maybe you should try for something different.”
Yeah. Not my finest parenting moment. I shudder a bit thinking about it. In my zeal to protect my son from failure, I was selling him short.
I realized quickly that my role here was to encourage him. Go outside with him when he needs someone to catch a pass. Operate the stopwatch when he wants to run sprints. Throw passes when he wants to run routes. (If he can catch MY passes, he can catch anything that comes his way.)
Fortunately, my son didn’t pick up on my skepticism. He knows what positions he’d like to play, and he’s prepared to work during the off-season to get it done. And he’s not worried about the damage to his self-esteem if he tries unsuccessfully for the position. Even better than that, he’s not even thinking about the possibility that he won’t succeed.
Which is exactly why he WILL succeed. Regardless of the outcome, he will have successfully learned a lesson about setting a goal and working toward it. He will have learned to work hard for something he wants. And he will have learned that something earned is far better than something that is just given to you.
And he will have taught his mom a powerful lesson about expectations.

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9 responses

  1. Wow girl! You are preaching to me today, because I have totally done that with Briston. He was amazing at soccer this year, but doesn’t want to go back and play again. He would rather challenge himself with football which he doesn’t get much playing time and he seems to struggle with hitting someone else. Instead of listening to me tell him that I would rather him play soccer due to the success that he had this year he wants to play football again. I have found him on several occasions asking Chandler to throw the ball with him and even asking the girls (including Daisy) to throw and catch with him. It amazes me how the youth of today will put aside the put downs of their mothers who want nothing more than for them to be only successful in the things they are good at and try for something they are not good at. They teach me something new everyday! Miss you guys!
    Amber

  2. It really is a case of pure intentions. We want our kids to be successful and it’s so hard to watch them struggle. A wise pastor once told me that it is the struggle to break free from a cocoon that gives the butterfly its strength to fly. Seems pretty appropriate here.

  3. He is taking after his parents. You both aimed high in life. Handled any ups and downs and came through it more knowledgeable.

  4. I’ve been helping coach tennis at a local facility and I can tell you first hand how hard some kids are willing to push themselves. It’s pretty incredible. I totally understand your instinct, though…he’s your baby boy (even when he’s 40) and you don’t want him hurt or disappointed. It’s like bees; they’re unable to fly, aerodynamically speaking, but no one ever told them.

  5. A lesson we all need to learn at one time or another…that is to teach our kids to try and see where it will go. Good point here Shannon. Love your posts.

  6. Wow – it sounds like you have a pretty awesome kid right there. I think I would have done what you tried to do, protect him and make it easier on him. Glad he did not take your advice. It is amazing the lessons our kids teach us.

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