May 6, 2012
Why is it instilled in my brain, as in many others’, that it’s not OK to ask for help? You’re supposed to tough it out. Don’t show you don’t know. There’s all sorts of shame in that game. There have been many occasions when I needed help but didn’t ask for it. And had I known I was worth the asking, life may have been easier at those times.
Last week, I empowered my 7-year-old kid to ask for the help he needed. So distraught before a little league game, he broke down sobbing about his fear to go up and bat. There were too many voices in his head he said. Those of the well-meaning Dads (including his own) and coaches telling him how to stand and hold the bat and swing. I’ve pitched a tennis ball to him. I knew he could actually make contact more than half the time.
So I said, “You have to go to your game because you’re part of a team and they’re counting on you. I can make sure you have a chance to ask your coach to help you. That’s his job.” I was making all of this up but it sounded pretty good to me. Later, at the park on our way to the dug out , a mean little teammate said to my kid, “You better get a hit today”. He didn’t see me standing there. When I caught his eye, I said, “Nice way to support your teammate, kid.” It was the coach’s step son. My kid didn’t flinch.
Sometimes we need to just hear ourselves ask for help. Or hear ourselves say, “You can’t treat me like that”. When we hear ourselves standing up for us, respecting ourselves, we say, “Hey, I’m worth it”. We need to believe in our own worth and prove it to ourselves. The alternative is to prove we aren’t worth it and say nothing. When we say “it’s not worth it”, we really say we aren’t worth it.
At the next game, my husband called the coach over and my kid asked the coach for help. And he was glad to oblige, relieved I’d venture, and pitched to him before the game. The more the boy’s out on that field, the more he belongs. Of course he bats last, but he’s getting the hang of the whole thing. And the last game, he got three singles. He feels entitled to the support of the team and the coach. Shouldn’t we all have that feeling ?
Apr 8, 2012
We chose to move to The County, USA because schools were not as scary here and 20 something percent of our taxes go towards the school budget. All has going according to my master plan when our son turned sporting age. Organized sports are apparently the next item on the list of his American life’s expectations. I had no idea what to expect.
Tee ball was innocuous; another Saturday social event as indoor soccer was. Teamwork and passing are the insane concept of adults, not six year olds. But he hit little league age this year. In fact, the son was nine days short of the cut off date. With only one year of tee ball behind him, he became a little guy in the big little league with a team of eight year old ringers.
I defer to my husband in these matters. I love and trust this man. He has great memories of his childhood playing organized sports. The picture of him in his first uniform in front of the garage door of his childhood home is dear to him and me. And since he’s bringing home the bacon money, his schedule takes priority so I agreed to chauffeur my kid to his ball practices.
The little League ball field is Man-world. There are expectations, rules, and must knows I don’t know. These strangers/ fathers / coaches spew a constant stream of critical performance jabber. “Run after you hit the ball and don’t look to see where it’s gone. Be on the base here, be off the base there.”
At practice, my kid took a ball to the face. From behind the fence, I had to judge by their faces whether I should rush his fractured cheekbone to the Hospital. He gained some respect when he fearlessly stepped back up to bat in the next inning. I cringe and have to close my eyes every time he’s near a ball. Afterwards, when he asks me was he the worse guy on the team, I smile and think but don’t say,” No that other little guy sucks worse than you do”.
I told my husband, I love practicing hitting and catching with my kid. And I absolutely hate being stuck with the redneck Dads on the field for an hour and a half as they yell at these little kids. We’ve become the Montessori parents we used to make fun of. I endure because everybody does this. Boys learn to take one for the team and it’s not just for your glory but everyone’s? Or public shame is good? Learning is learning. My lesson is just more painful than I’d expected. Serves me right for having any expectations. I expect it to get easier. Oops, there I go again.