Adventures Of Fatherhood – October 5, 2018

Adventures Of Fatherhood – October 5, 2018

Years from now when he is older, I hope I remember my conversations with Beckett in the car before and after soccer practices.

Every year during travel soccer orientation meetings coaches advise parents to avoid talking about soccer with their kids immediately before and after practices and games. Despite it being difficult to not offer feedback on this or that from a game or practice, I agree with the coaches it’s important for the players to be having fun and not feel a tremendous amount of pressure from their parents as well as their coaches.

I have always loved sports. I grew up playing multiple sports and continue to be active today, thanks mainly to Beckett’s shared affinity for playing anything that involves a ball.

I do my best to follow the coaches’ advice when it comes to not discussing and reviewing practices and games. It’s sound advice. We are their parents, not their coaches. When we do coach our kids, we need to make sure they understand there’s a difference between dad and coach.

If Beckett asks me about something in particular, as he is prone to do, I will talk about it, but I do try and make sure I am not too hard or complimentary of him. I always tell him I enjoy watching him play. I do occasionally lay into him if he doesn’t exhibit the effort I know he can, and I do overly praise him when he plays exceptional and scores the game winning goal, for instance.

For the most part, however, I try to keep everything in balance. I stay away from talking about the practice or the game right after we leave the field. It’s good for him not to obsess, and I can often redirect him by telling him how many math homework problems he got wrong when I checked it over during his practice or quiz him on spelling words for a test he has the next day.

Nonetheless, there are many times he really wants to talk about a game, ask me what I thought or complain about something that happened. After one game he didn’t play exceptionally well in, he continued to ask me what I thought of the game, despite my attempts to change the subject. I think he knew he didn’t play with maximum effort, which is all I ever ask of him. After acknowledging disappointment he didn’t give it his all, I repeated the coach’s guidance for parents. While I said it aloud, I was also reminding myself to take a deep breath and get some perspective. He said something along the lines, “Ok I just want to make sure I’m making you proud.”

That comment hit me in the heart. How could he ever think a soccer game would make me not proud of him? I realized somewhere along the way I must have given him the impression his play mattered that much to me. Maybe that’s parental guilt at play here or perhaps he was just being honest with me and needed reassurance. Whatever the case, I will never forget him telling me that. Nowadays the first thing I say to him when he comes off the field is I’m proud of you. To know he’s thinking along those lines confirms what I have known about him forever – he’s all heart.

When I look back on these car rides for games, I’m certain it won’t be how many goals he scored that I will remember. It’s these frank conversations on a broad range of topics, especially the goofy ones.

We talk about a lot of things, like school, geography, automobiles, history, his mom’s manicures and pedicures, airplanes, cruise ships, flounder, girls, his brother’s bowel movements, sharks, my obsession for keeping the sink clear at all times, the dogs’ silly antics, surfing, skateboarding, rap music and why stop signs are octagons anyway.

These conversations go basically wherever he wants them to go. I think that’s a good thing. I don’t want to talk about what’s on my mind because odds are it’s not something he needs to be concerned with because they are adult matters.

I think parents should keep things as simple for their kids as possible. That’s not always possible because we all have our own internal struggles and worries. In my case, most of the things I worry about he can do nothing about. They only concern him indirectly because he’s my son.

At 10 years old, these are precious times and I love hearing what’s on his mind. Although his verbosity can get him in trouble at times, I appreciate the fact he still wants to communicate his thoughts and opinions. I am certain that will change.

Fortunately, these chats help my soul because they are silly for the most part. For example, one of his favorite topics is music. His knowledge grows on a daily basis. On a recent ride home from practice, he asked me if I wanted him to “drop some beats” and to hear his “free flow.” Before I could answer, he went into it, most of which I couldn’t understand except some familiar words young boys like to use for no good reason.

As I think about these talks, I like to view them as reminders to maintain a proper perspective. Perhaps most importantly I almost always end up laughing, which is always a great thing.

About The Author: Steven Green

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The writer has been with The Dispatch in various capacities since 1995, including serving as editor and publisher since 2004. His previous titles were managing editor, staff writer, sports editor, sales account manager and copy editor. Growing up in Salisbury before moving to Berlin, Green graduated from Worcester Preparatory School in 1993 and graduated from Loyola University Baltimore in 1997 with degrees in Communications (journalism concentration) and Political Science.