I said goodnight to my oldest son the other night. I asked him how his recess soccer games were going. (One of his favorite recess activities). He became quiet and withdrawn.
I asked him “What's wrong buddy?”
He replied “ I don’t want to play soccer during recess anymore. I am not as good as other kids, and a kid that plays makes fun of me. He yells at me to go away.”
A sustained message in our house when my kids are having a rough time is “Mom and Dad have your back”. We repeat it in many instances. My wife and I want them to have the confidence that we are there to help them. Even if they did something wrong or if they made a mistake. We want them to have faith in us reacting decently calm and then supporting them to solve the problem. In this fast paced world with social media, fast moving words, cyber bullying, and dysfunctional interactions between kids I want to be vigilant and helpful if my kids are experiencing these issues. My kids do not, will not, have to walk their path alone.
My heart aches for our nation and the challenging status of broken children making horrendous choices to hurt themselves and those around them. I feel it is because they lack the support around them in some form that can help them through the trials of the world. We must do better as parents, guardians, and Americans.
I was proud of my oldest son for being able to articulate what was going on in school. I was proud of him, and told him that regarding his willingness to share with me what happened.
I am challenged at times on how to articulate to my eight year old, or six year old twins how to handle problems like this. I want to tell him to tell the banana head kid to frig off in so many words. Because you aren’t the king of the playground. Go practice falling down over there bully turd, I'll be there in a second.
My internal dialogue aside, I don’t want to teach my children to raise their fist the minute they are challenged. I will not teach my children to be passive either. Both are harmful and will not solve the majority of the world's problems.
I attempted to tackle the issues in a two point bullet plan.
You want to be better at something? Lets work for it.
I told him honestly some of the kids that are good at your soccer games are because they play outside of school. They practice, they work at what they want to be better at. My son is an intelligent young man, but is still wrestling with how to approach things that he is not good at from the start. My wife recently got him a soccer ball for home. We came up with a plan that we are going to train all through the summer. We are going to get a goal/net. He can practice being a goalie, a shooter and I will be the opposite. We are going to practice dribbling up and down the driveway, or bouncing the ball back and forth against our back yard stone fence.
I want him to learn the importance of working hard to improve himself at something. I want him to spend effort, time, and sweat for something. Then when school comes back this fall and he just so happens to step back on the pitch, I am excited to see what happens when he plays again. I have faith his progressed skills will validate his mental and physical effort we will be putting in.
Someone tells you you can’t do something? Someone demeans you or puts you down? We never have to shy from standing up for ourselves in the right way.
We spoke about how important soccer is to him. How bad he felt when the kid told him repeatedly that he couldn't play with the other kids. I asked him questions “ Is this kid in charge of him? Does this kid have the right to tell you what you can do? Do you want to play soccer? “ I wanted him to have validation that bullies have no authority over him. I wanted him to feel the importance of what he wants to do. We worked through what he would say the next time he came to the playground. Plant your feet, hold your head up high, tell the kid (dad nicknamed him turd) “ I want to play soccer, you don’t get to tell me what to do.” You want something, you stand for it.
I hope in these earlier years I am able to help my children through these life important situations. When the cost mentally, emotionally, and financially is less. I hope that my wife and I can guide our children in conflict resolution, social interaction, self and other human respect. I hope to show them how to defend themselves if it comes to it. I hope to grow their self confidence to where they are not beaten down by the harshness of the world and the sad cowardly individuals they may come into contact with. Let us all show our kids how to be good people, how to deal with their problems when they are not able to play a 2nd grade soccer game without harming themselves or others.
I have faith that by doing this we are assisting their ability to progress in life. I have faith this will lead them to make level headed decisions when the chips are down that don’t involve making rash emotionally charged choices that can alter their life forever with dire repercussions.
My son went to school the next week and scored his second goal all school year.
He scored the goal on the kid that told him he couldn’t play soccer.
I smiled real big when he told me that story. I gave him a big hug.
Be there for your kids' gents, let them know you will have their back. We succeed when they succeed.