Just when you’re ready to throw your hands up in defeat; as you’re pulling out the white flag and preparing to throw the towel into the middle of the ring; as if the gods recognize you’ve hit your limit; victory.
There is no thrill on this earth quite like the thrill of watching your child overcome immense hurdles. As a parent, you struggle to help them past adversity, to work through fears and get past the b.s. their world throws at them. There are times when you just don’t see it happening and you’re convinced you’ve completely screwed up as a parent and your kid is doomed to a life of wedgies, disappointments and therapy.
But I’m here to tell you dad, they achieve, they grow, they overcome and they fly. Don’t beat yourself up over a moment of frustration when you’re convinced the game is over. Just hang in there. Keep being supportive. Keep encouraging. Throw one more pitch. Loop it, tuck it and pull the lace through one more time. Help them up off the pavement and get their feet on the pedals for one more go. Perhaps the toughest part is knowing when to hold their hand and when to be tough on them. Sometimes they need to sit out a bit when they themselves get frustrated. Chances are not only do you have an opportunity to teach them how to hit a ball, but how to handle anxiety and anger as well. And maybe you’ll learn something about yourself in the process. The hard part is learning to find that balance between pushing and coddling; encouraging and enabling.
As a dad it can drive a man crazy waiting for it all to click. We have internalized preconceived notions of how brilliant our kids are going to be and when it doesn’t jive, we can have our own little meltdowns. When we’ve gone over something 10,000 times or don’t understand why our kid is afraid of moths. But just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming.
I’m sure you’ll run into other parents who may look at you and say you’re overprotective, or maybe you’re pushing too hard or not enough. We all have opinions. But the truth is, you and their mom know your child better than anyone. That’s not to say it doesn’t hurt to get advice and input from others who may have some good insights. But end of the day, you and their mom know the best way to get them from point A to point B. Communicate when you can because you’re likely to find you’re both struggling with the same issues when it comes to the kids.
But don’t give up. I tell you this, for one day the light bulb will go off. You will see their little face light up with excitement as they “GET IT!” They will look to you with eyes wide open. Their eyes will lock on to yours because you’ve seen them through it and it means the world to them that you acknowledge this breakthrough with them.
Celebrate it with them. Live it with them. Share the smile.
When my son hit the ball after 7824 pitches during practice the other day. I screamed like a little girl at a Justin Bieber concert. And when he picked up the grounder at third and nailed the throw to first base you’d have thought the Bills had won the Super Bowl. In both instances he immediately turned, searched me out and smiled big and bright as the sun. And I, thumb firmly up, smiled back. No one else in the bleachers knew what it took for him to get there. But I did. And so did he. And despite being fifty yards away from each other, we celebrated together with our own internal happy dance.
And it was a good day.