Seeing your child struggle is never easy, but ultimately I like to think it’s a good thing over the long term.
Beckett is fortunate that most things in his life — school and athletics, for example — come fairly easy to him. That’s not to say he doesn’t need to study for tests and practice with sports because he does. It’s just that’s he a quick study on most things and has subsequently overachieved in most aspects of his life without many struggles. Perhaps more importantly it hasn’t take a ton of effort on his part.
The negative side to this is when faced with a major challenge or adversity that’s not easy to succeed at he often struggles from an emotional standpoint. He lets it get in his head and take over, resulting oftentimes in an immature reaction, such as giving up and letting his emotions get the best of him.
That was the case this week during a board breaking class to prepare him for his black belt test in Tae Kwon Do in June. He was to break five boards using a combination of his hands and feet. When it came time to break with his feet, he let his fear get the best of him. He was worried he was going to get hurt and miss his soccer season. Once he started thinking about that, it was all over. He continually held back on his breaks, resulting in him being unable to get through the adult boards. That’s when his emotions took over. It was a mixture of fear and embarrassment.
It was tough to watch as he crumbled under the pressure he had put on himself. He let his anxiety and concerns about hurting his feet because of soccer and his upcoming black belt test take over his body.
He had gotten himself so worked up that he needed a breather. When the going got tough, he panicked and shut down. It’s a sign of his immaturity, but he’s just 8 years old so it’s certainly acceptable. After a pep talk from his instructor, my encouragement, some deep breaths and tweaks to his breaks, he was able to persevere.
On the way home, I wanted to talk to him about what happened. Rather than expressing how disappointed I was in his immediate proclivity to quit when faced with a challenge, I told him I was proud of how he took a break and was willing to come back and overcome his fears. In this case, I did the opposite of what I really wanted to do — tell him he needs to toughen up and quitting is unacceptable. I knew that would accomplish nothing.
I did in a different fashion remind him how his reaction to being unsuccessful a few times was unproductive and pointed out how the other students in the room failed multiple times but they never broke down like he did. They kept trying and trying and pushed through fear.
He interrupted me (as he’s prone to do) and said, “you mean like this quote I heard somewhere, ‘fear, is just another reason to try harder.’”
That blew me away. He doesn’t remember where he read that or heard that, but it was the perfect mantra for that moment. He learned from that night and so did I. Watching him struggle was tough but it will ultimately be a big moment in his life I think. He’s stronger and better for it and it’s definitely an occasion we will refer back to in the future when things are not easy for him.
In the meantime, we have a fresh stack of wood just hanging out in his bedroom to serve as a reminder.
Dressing our children is an interesting challenge, especially for dressy events.
At this point, Beckett, 8, is the easiest to dress. He’s tall and slender and the only real issue for him is he’s a lot leaner than most in his sizes. He’s currently in the middle of sizes. The perfect waist size is typically too short in the legs and the perfect leg length is typically too large for the waist.
In the case of his school uniform, which fortunately changes to shorts next week, the result is some high rising pants. One day this week I had to giggle at how he dressed himself. His socks were showing so bad from underneath his pants I had to get him to change into longer socks and to pull them all the way up. By the end of the day, the socks had fallen and there was a clear showing of skin between the bottom of his pants and his socks. When I pointed it out to him and joked he needs to stop growing for a bit or at least hike up his socks, he said he liked it because it kept him cool on warm days.
Carson, on the other hand, is average height for his age but indeed on the heavier side. His particular girth around the midsection poses a lot of problems with clothing. That was on full display this week. The only way to get shirts to fit him well and not too snug is to go up a couple sizes, meaning they come down to almost his knees. To get a shirt to come to his waist means discomfort for him and anyone looking at him out of fear of wondering whether he can breathe.
On days when the shirts are a little snug around the belly, he’s quick to shed his shirt as soon as he comes in the house and put in the trash can.
That’s typically followed by some lovely belly rubs, seemingly of relief to be hanging free, by him.