Pushing and Shoving

Today was Jack's first t-ball practice and I was all sorts of nervous about it. You see my son Jack is the kind of kid that needs pushing, sometimes shoving, to do just about everything he does. He generally loves the idea of doing something but when it comes time to actually do it, to try and apply himself, he is not interested.

This has happened in just about every new thing in his life. It started with going to school and him announcing he hated school, was not going to like his teacher and would not be friends with anyone. He was firm in his statements and he was not hearing any talk of how great school could be.

We told him he had to go; that whether he liked his teacher or made friends didn't matter. He was going to school and then we pushed him into his classroom. Within one weeks time he loved school, thought his teacher was the bee’s knees and had a posse of friends.

This happened with swimming lessons as well. He loved swimming but when we told him he had to have lessons to actually learn to swim, he freaked out and refused to get in the pool without me. I eased him into the classes by starting out with him but after a few I refused to get in the water with him. He was going to get in the pool and learn to swim if I had to push him in myself. After that pushing, he was racing into swimming class and jumping in the deep end. He now begs to go to swimming.

This past week while we were at the library I told him we were going to get some books to help him learn to read. He quickly told me he was NOT reading and that if I got those books he would not even look at them. He later told me (after some arguing and yelling) that he didn't want to learn to read because reading was hard and he didn't think he would be good at it. He is afraid of failure so I pushed yet again. I told him if he wanted me to read to him then he had to try and read with me first. He reluctantly agreed and within minutes he was reading to me. We were both happily surprised at how fast he got the concepts down and I was loved how he sounded out the letters to make the words. I kept telling him how proud I was of him that he was reading. I could see the excitement on his face and he has asked to read to me everyday since. Pushing equals winning (or in this case learning) with my kid.

Do I think you can push a kid too much? Yes, but that is not the kind of pushing I am talking about. I only push on things he either asks to do (like swimming) but then chickens out on or like school and reading where he doesn't have a choice.

So that brings us to today and to t-ball. I know both Jason & I struggle to keep our cool and not lose our patience with him when he gets in these moods of what he is and is not willing to do. Jack loves baseball and begs Jay to play everyday with him. He is good at baseball and when he plays at home he tries hard. But he still has those moments, like all of us do, when it gets hard or he misses too many pitches in a row and that's it, he wants to quit. Well, mama ain't raising no quitter. So we have to encourage, push and shove some more so he will buck up and try again. Try harder. All the while reminding him he can do it, that he is good at it, and sure enough he hits the ball and has his confidence back again.

Heading to tonight’s first practice was rough. He didn't want to play on a team with none of his friends, he was not going to catch the ball, and on and on he went. Everything was a fight from the sweatshirt I made him wear to Jason making him carry his own bag. He was not going to like t-ball and he was not going to play - ever, story over.

Tension was running high and both Jason & I were losing our patience with him and we weren't even there yet. I snapped at him in the car and told him that because he asked to play baseball and I paid a lot of money for it, he was going to go there and listen to his coach and play, dammit! He never said another word. 

When we got to the field and saw the other kids playing, I could see he was excited and nervous. He stuck by Jay at first but then he started playing baseball, the game he loved. He listened to his coach, he ran the bases and he played catch with his new friends and Jason. He was proud as could be to get his uniform and when practice ended he didn't want to leave. We pushed. He loved it, as we knew he would and we had to drag him away.

This kind of parenting takes a lot of work and makes Jason & I more frustrated than you know. I sometimes feel bad that I am always pushing him to try things, but I just know in my heart it will be good for him and he will love it once I do, so I shove away.

I know someday he will be the one doing the pushing and I will be trying to hang on. I hope all this hard work and constant shoving pay off and make him a kid who always tries his best, even when it is scary and even when it is hard because when he does he is an incredibly smart and talented boy. I am so proud of him, even as I push.

 So happy after running the bases!

 Hanging with his new friends.

Loving his new uniform (even if it is White Sox) and
celebrating his first practice with a Chipotle dinner!


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