Yesterday was the night of Aiden’s weekly basketball practice. I explained to him that we would be going to the gym.
“Yay! The gym is like fun!!” he exclaimed, excited to play in the child watch area.
“And then you have basketball practice,” I cringed knowing exactly what was to come.
“Noooo!! I don’t like basketball.”
“Aiden, you have do things you don’t like sometimes. I know it’s hard but if you keep trying then you’ll get better. Mommy and Daddy do things that are hard so we can get better at them,” I explained to him. My biggest fear is this self-defeated, “let’s give up” attitude starts now and perpetuates it’s little butt into school.
I waited for some kind of resort back but nothing was said.
Hmm. Okay, I’ll just go with it.
Five minutes before Aiden’s practice (which was located in the same building), Jarod and I stopped our workouts and went to pick him up from the child watch center.
“We need to get Trissy and Ali,” a confused Aiden remarked as we left without our other two babes.
“We’re going to basketball practice,” I stated simply, trying to negate any kind of emotion. I thought that if I acted like it wasn’t a big deal then it would somehow appease the situation.
Again, nothing was said back.
We arrived at practice a little early, a few kids were already shooting around so Jarod and I encouraged Aiden to shoot as well. His little face beamed with pride as his ball kept going in one after another. I smiled to myself. I just couldn’t understand how he didn’t think this was fun to begin with and now, finally, he was enjoying it.
The coach called everyone to sit around him to have their pre-practice chat and that’s when happy Aiden quickly disappeared. The coach and I tried coaxing him to sit down with the other boys and girls. Eventually, we came to a compromise; he sat down on my lap as I joined the Purple Bears little circle. He relaxed in my arms, turned his head into me and cuddled his body against mine.
For the next thirty minutes, I stayed right next to his side, involved in all the activities, practicing dribbling, running from one side of the court to the other and doing silly dances in between. He grumbled at the fact he hadn’t mastered all of these skills and asked me to help him. I patiently showed him how to do each exercise and he responded immensely; it was as if we had a brand-new kid on our hands. He was laughing, smiling and actually enjoying himself.
I slowly inched myself away as often and as much as I could; supporting him when I needed to and departing from him as much as I could. Eventually, Jarod and I watched from the sidelines with pride as the kid (and I’m not saying this just because he’s my kid, I promise :) has some natural-born ability.
“He’s really good,” I said to Jarod.
“Well, yah, I mean, he’s got our genes,” Jarod proudly stated as if it were just a simple truth in life.
I giggled at his response and smiled at his fatherly pride.
This basketball practice was a huge success. Not only did Aiden finally involve himself with his teammates and actually had fun, we hope this solidifies his growth as a “team player” (God, that sounds so damn cheesy but you know what I mean) and he learns to work well with others and just as importantly, involves physical fitness into his daily life, even long after he’s no longer under our careful eye.
But just as important was my realization that parenting isn’t about perfection, defying one’s authorities in life isn’t the end all in a child’s life and no matter what’s happening in our lives, do everything with the people I love with love and patience. Aiden’s willingness to finally play was a direct response to my choice to lead him with patience and love rather than begging, pleading and the often last resort (and failed resort of) bribery.
We happily left the court together. Aiden remembered our attempts to bribe him at his last game, smiled at us and earnestly asked, “Can I have ice cream now?”