I'm not exactly close with the parents of my 7-year-old's friends. It's difficult to listen to them talk about their worries when quite frankly I don't really give a crap about their kid's social standing. I'm not terrified if my son doesn't have the very best teacher, or doesn't finish all his math problems on a timed test. I have four teenagers that keep me completely mentally occupied.
The thing with having kids so far apart is that you’re faced with very different challenges. You realize that 99% of the things you worry about when a kid is seven are bullshit. However, you don’t realize it’s primarily BS until you’re faced with much bigger problems when the kids get older.
With my son, there are basically two things I’m focused on: I want him to be happy and I want him to be challenged.
Given that background, you could imagine my conversation with a group of moms that were incredibly concerned that I didn't sign my son up for flag football. There are two competing clubs close by and they were debating as to which one was better. When my opinion was asked, I simply said,
"I'm not signing my son up for football"
"What? Really? It's not dangerous or anything - it's just flag!"
"I know, I'm just not signing him up for football"
"But it's so much fun. The parents all hang out, the kids are with all their friends and they're playing the best game ever!"
"He doesn't really seem to have an interest in the football"
"So what! (giggle) - none of them really know what's going on - it's just what we all do! All the kids start with football and we carry on the traditions year after year. You really need to get in on it from the start"
"I don't really want to do something just because everyone is doing it - I'd rather spend my time doing things he likes."
"Well, they all like it!"
"Yep, I'm sure they do, but no, I'm not signing my son up for football."
"But don't you think he'll feel left out when all the kids are playing together at recess?"
"I'm sure you all have great kids and he'll be invited to play with them at school whether he's on their team or not, right?"
"Won't he be jealous when they're all talking about the game after the weekend?"
"I'm not worried about it -- won't your kids be jealous when my kid talks about his super hero/ninja class he takes that your kid doesn't have time for?"
It ended up being a really great, open conversation, but I tend to get pretty defensive when people question my son's athletic aspirations. Besides my disastrous travel soccer suggestion last year, I've stayed completely out of his choices. I'll always have to face the "If my son wanted to dance I'd kill myself" type of people, but I'm hoping to have more open and positive conversations like I had with that group of moms.
When I left there, I did second guess myself so when my son came home, I asked him,
"Do you want me to sign you up for football?"
"Uhm, no - didn't we have this conversation already?"
"Got it - just wanted to make sure. You ok if all your friends are doing it and you're not?"
"Is this a test?"
Have I mentioned how much I love that kid? That pretty much solidifies my decision not to sign up my son for football. You may not be seeing him compete in the NFL, but perhaps American Ninja Warrior might be in his future...
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Filed under: parenting