Holes already? I just bought them.

As many of you know, my son KD, age 7, loves to follow and play sports 24-7. It’s summer, so right now he lives and breathes baseball. He’s either outside playing in real-time or inside practicing hitting stances and making tough plays with the game playing on the radio in the background. As kids do, he mimics what he sees, and right now it’s all about Brandon Crawford, shortstop for the San Francisco Giants, making tough plays. He’s fun to watch.

As an involved dad who played just enough baseball to fake it, I volunteered to coach his team. During yesterday’s practice, KD did a perfect imitation of Brandon fielding a tough ground ball and making a sidearm throw while falling to his knees. Had it been a tough play, I would have gotten it. But it was a routine play he made difficult, and he threw the ball past the first baseman. As gently as a father-coach can from 50 feet away, I reminded him of this, and he made the next two easy plays as he should have.

After practice KD asked me if he’d done a good job with the next few ground balls, and I told him I’d noticed he’d made some really good plays. Immediately, he lit up like 4th of July sparklers next to the Christmas tree. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but whatever I did or said really left him feeling good. On we went with our night.

But being a therapist, I couldn’t just let it be a good moment between father and son.  Instead, I needed to understand what I’d done and said and replayed the scenario over and over, so I could do it again.  And with this came the rapid-fire questions. Was there something particularly important for him because he’d taken a risk and asked me for praise and got it? Am I not spontaneously complimentary enough, so he feels the need to elicit my praise? Do I not tell him how proud I am enough of the time? Do I tell him I love him enough? Do I hug and kiss him enough? Am I distracted too much when I’m around him and he loved the praise when I was 100% focused on him? Was he having a tough day and needed a little extra boost? Crap, don’t I play enough Monopoly with him and the praise made-up the difference? Who knows…

Realistically, I could spend hours trying to figure it out and never would. After all, the scenario could repeat itself and I could do back flips when I see it. He could simply turn away and pretend the weird guy isn’t his father. It’s a mystery. Bottom line, our kids need to know we love them every day. I’m of the opinion and hope that by doing what I do and saying what I say, KD will soak it up enough that when we release him into the wild someday, he’ll fly away feeling loved. And isn’t that what we parents are supposed to do?

2 Responses to Holes already? I just bought them.
  1. elizabeth
    August 11, 2015 | 3:55 pm

    Everyone loves compliments and praise. It has been said that you should give 3-5 compliments per day to the people you love within your family.
    Someone close in my family told me some years ago that they thought I was one of the smartest in my family and I often think of that. I am not a college graduate and always felt less intelligent than others. But my family member gave me a good lease on life re being smart by his compliment.

  2. Penny
    August 12, 2015 | 5:02 pm

    Loved that story, Steve! And yes, we are rarely sure that what we are doing is enough, or right. Or even noticed.
    PJ

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