As a parent, I admit I’m prone to lecturing. It’s mostly benign lecturing, but it’s still lecturing.
“It’s important not to talk in class when the teacher doesn’t want you to talk,” I lectured my son a few days ago, after he drooped his way off the school bus and admitted he got dinged twice for talking. “The teacher doesn’t like that, and you’re going to have to learn that sooner or later, because it’s going to be that way for the rest of your life.”
Dun dun dun. I know. My son is not quite six, and I’m already warning him about The Rest of His Life. Next thing you know, I’ll be busting out “you don’t want that to go on your permanent record” and “be careful; your face could freeze that way.” I freely admit that I’ve already mentioned that “there are starving people in China” (although I may have actually said India or Somalia).
Anyway. I like to Tell People Things. It’s what I do as a writer most of the time. That is, when I’m not asking lots of questions (the best part of being a journalist, if you ask me). I am conscious of this tendency, so I do try to rein it in when I can. But it’s just part of my nature.
So my son is playing his third season of soccer this spring. We’ve drilled it into him that this experience should be about 1) having fun, 2) getting some exercise and 3) learning how to play the game. He has already bought in. (Score!) If you ask him the most important thing about playing soccer, he will immediately tell you that it’s about having fun. And for him, it really IS about having fun. He loves it. He loves running around outside. He loves playing with his buddies. He even loves the actual game of soccer, as he’s played long enough to have a reasonably good grasp of how it works.
This does not prevent me, his dear mother, from lecturing him about the important things anyway. Today, before my husband took him to his game, I managed to “gently remind” him to play hard, to be a good sport, to watch the ball, to pay attention to his coach and to not hug on his teammates until after the game was over. (He’s a big hugger. Actually, a couple of the others are, too. Sometimes it’s a big old hug fest out there on the field. It’s cute during practice. Maybe not so much during a game.)
“And to have fun,” he reminded me.
Well, yes, there is that.
And sure enough, my husband reports, our son did all of those things during the game today. So either he has listened to me Tell Him Things and actually internalized them, or else maybe he just does those things on his own and I don’t deserve any of the credit at all. Actually, it’s probably the latter.
Here’s a picture of him, keeping his eye, yes, on the ball.