I grew up in the 80s. Big wheels, jelly shoes, drinking from the hose, running through the sprinklers from sun up to sun down in the summer time. We spent most of our time outside. We had boom boxes, roller skates and bikes and boy did we ride them…everywhere. Just as long as I was back in time before the street lights came on. I get that today’s world is scary, there’s predators and amber alerts, crazies and whack jobs everywhere. As a kid though, I still remember having a plan, how to search my surroundings and know where trouble was and how to seek help, things I have tried to instill in my kiddos.
I try to teach my kids patience. I teach my kids that life doesn’t always happen on your own personal timeline. Things are going to happen that aren’t fun, might be difficult, boring, and you need to learn how to deal with it, cope with it. Life can be painful, but how are they going to know how to work through it if I protect them from everything that comes their way?
This Spring, all three kids played baseball and softball. Which meant that some weeks we were at the ballpark 6 nights. My kids are young so they are still at the instructional league level. One of the games, my son was playing first base and the ball bounced off his glove and popped him right in the arm. Without skipping a beat I yelled “You’re fine buddy! Walk it off!” along with the signature sign language sign for I LOVE YOU…which is something my kids and I have done since they were toddlers. When I said this to Noah, I heard gasps from both sides of the field with the murmured “is he ok?” I am sure some of these moms officially think I am stone cold to my children but it couldn’t be further than the truth. I just parent differently than you do. If he can’t learn how to get through being popped on the field than what is going to do with everything else in life? This is what works for US. Do I push them? Sometimes. I am a parent, it’s my job to help encourage them and push through and learn how to cope through life. To learn how to access fear and pain and, yes, work through it. When the end of the season came around I didn’t pick up their participation medals, for one reason. That feeling of accomplishment isn’t outside of who you are, it’s on the inside. If I can teach my kids that feeling of accomplishment is internal and not because someone handed them a medal (which can be lost, stolen, broke, destroyed…you get the idea)…then I feel like I may have succeeded just a little bit. In ways, that is something that I was taught from my parents growing up.. It’s for the love of the game, not the medal.
This doesn’t just pertain to parenting, but anytime we confuse accomplishment with something outside of our body I think we are setting ourselves up for danger and losing ourselves. There are so many moments that are priceless that I do not have a medal, or photo other than just a memory or reminded of a feeling that moment brought. It’s my job to teach my kids the value of who they are inside, and that is something that can’t be taken away unless they give it away. Stuff is just that, stuff. I don’t want them to be collectors of stuff they were given or even earned, to define who they are. Let that stuff be merely a footnote about the story of their life.
If all your medals were taken away…would you confidently know who you were? You’re the author of your story…make it a good one.
Until next week…you can find us barefoot in the grass playing ball.