Saturday, April 3, 2010

Teach Your Children Well

I try to instill confidence in my children every chance I get.

Not to the point where they don't deserve it or start to feel entitled but coming from someone who had little confidence in herself until she hit middle age, I'm particularly sensitive to my kids feeling good about themselves as early in life as possible.

On the surface, my son appears to be confident.  He's social, smart and a good athlete.  In spite of this, I know he is not.  He is sensitive, uncertain, and easily defeated and angry with himself when he does not perform well at something. 

He refuses to play team sports.  Over the years, we forced him to play but little by little we gave up.  Basketball, Baseball, Soccer.  He still plays at school and at home but playing on a team made him (and us) so miserable with the screaming and crying that we finally gave up.    (Though we have held fast on martial arts despite the temper tantrums.)

My husband would like for him to play on teams again.  I would too but don't want to ruin his love of the sport  (or deal with the madness.)   But recently, he played with a pro basketball player who, I was told, took him aside and told him how good he was.  The coach asked why he wasn't playing competitively and gently chided him for wasting his talent, encouraging him to join a team.  When I pressed my son about it, he said "the guy only said that 'cause everyone else  playing with me sucked."

After telling him that was not true, I stepped back. 

His words sounded vaguely, disturbingly familiar...

Then today, I got an email from a radio station wanting to interview me based on one of my blog posts.  My immediate thought was to say no.  Why would they want to talk to me?  I asked myself.  I'm no expert on anything.  After talking to my husband and a friend, I called.    The producers didn't want an expert.  They wanted a parent.    Great.  Fine.  I thought.  I can do that.  I'm one of those.  But, later, as I let my insecurities seep in,  I couldn't help but wonder, why me?  Did they have so few choices?

A few years ago, I sent an essay in to Newsweek on a whim.  I expected a formatted, impersonal rejection to arrive weeks or months later.  The next day I received an email saying they wanted to publish my essay within the next three weeks.  (Which they did here.)  After jumping up and down and screaming with excitement, my next thought was "I guess they didn't have many submissions this week."

Vaguely, disturbingly familiar... 


Manic Mommy said...

And much like your son, you come across as completely confident. Which you should. Because you're amazing. Off to read your Newsweek essay...


ByJane said...

Oh god, do I relate to those emotions. Like--I can't believe you really like me. You're just being kind, right?

Anonymous said...

And I'm just not sure that kind of emotional growth happens the way we think with the prompts we try to give.

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