28 Jun What I learned this year.
It’s the last week of school.
I don’t even need a calendar for that. I just need to check the volume of my kid’s voices. Like yesterday.
It was 6:40 am and I thought everyone was asleep. I came around the corner into the kitchen and John was standing on the stool at the bar. Not sitting calmly eating his breakfast. No. He was standing on our wobbly stools, towering over his breakfast, eyes closed and wiggling his butt.
As I walked in he yelled, “I GOT MY HORSES IN THE BACK – HORSEY TACK A TACK!’
I know what you’re thinking, “Hey Dave, are those the right lyrics?”
I said, “John, it’s not even 7 am yet. Can we use our indoor voice?”
He looked at me and yelled, “THREE MORE DAYS OF SCHOOL!!”
So I said, “Before Mom comes out here and puts a towel in your mouth, what if we went out back and threw a baseball around?”
And so we did. We got our gloves and played catch. And every time he’d catch the ball, I’d smile.
Which brings me to my life lesson, brought to you by my friend Sean.
Sean is a kids’ hockey coach. Like, a serious hockey coach. He’s so serious, he owns his own arena. It’s his business. Seriously. He owns the building, the boards, a Zamboni, all of it. He even owns a popcorn machine. I’m the loser dad compared to Sean.
Anyway, he is a really thoughtful coach who has worked with hundreds of kids. And he said something a few months ago that cracked my parenting head open.
It happened because I was pretty sure I was raising a faulty kid who would never be able to catch a baseball.
John is eight and plays on a little league team. No one on the team is great at catching, but John definitely couldn’t catch. The ball would come near him and he’d sort of wave the glove around and then duck, or just wave the glove around. Or do the Floss. Or squat. He actually got into the habit of turning around to go chase the ball, before it even got to him.
I watched YouTube videos on how to teach catching, I got softballs and did drills. No-glove drills. Underhand drills. All kinds of drills. And he couldn’t catch anything.
I’d get frustrated I’d say, “Come on John!! Concentrate!!
I was telling Sean how frustrated I was. That’s when he laid this on me:
He said, “Kids don’t learn linearly. Especially in sports. They do the same thing over and over, and then, in a moment, they get better.”
I said, “Yeah, but he’s not even TRYING.”
Sean said, “Think when John or Tess learned to walk. For their entire life up to that point, they couldn’t walk. And then, one day, they could. Is it because they finally put some effort in, or because a lot of things had to happen before they could do it?”
So I backed off.
And then, like Sean was some sort of prophet – a month later – suddenly, John could catch.
He even caught a pop fly in one game. Something I never thought our faulty kid would be able to do.
Sean is one smart guy.
So yesterday morning, on the last week of school, the final week of education for the kids, I was standing in the backyard, playing catch with John and I realized I’d learned something this year, too.
I learned the correct lyrics are:
I got the horses in the back
Horse tack is attached.
Those are dumb lyrics.
Oh, I also learned to be a little more patient with my kids.