For days (two weeks to be exact) I have been hearing from Jack nothing but excitement about his upcoming soccer game. On Monday, he started counting how many “sleeps” were left until his very first game. Every morning he would wake up and say, “5 more sleeps” or “2 more sleeps”. He was overcome with excitement.
When his big day arrived today he HAD to have on his soccer uniform first thing in the morning even though his game wasn’t until 1 pm. He has been wearing his slides every day, waiting for the moment he could actually slip off his cleats and wear them after the game. He had the whole thing down and was ready to go.
I should mention, when Nicholas was little, he had the same shy attitude as Jack does, but he was able to go out on the soccer field and tear it up like it was his job. He would push, shove, fall on the ground and score more than his fair share of goals. Naturally, I knew Jack would do the same thing, after all they’re brothers—it’s in their blood.
The whole team lined up nicely and awaited the first whistle. The anticipation was high as were my expectations.
The whistle blows. Aaaaaaaaaaaand this happens.
Jack just stood there. It was as though the world was going on around him and he had no idea what to do. So naturally, I screamed his name and told him to go get the ball. All the other moms and dads are screaming around him for their children and he stood there like he had no interest and hadn’t the foggiest idea what to do.
Pretty soon his coach noticed his deer in the headlights look and she tried to help him, but bad turned to worse aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand… there was crying in soccer.
Jack was subbed out and we had a conversation. I let him know his behavior wasn’t appropriate and he was there to play soccer with his team. The tears just kept flowing. I told him in no uncertain terms that there is no crying in sports, but the waterworks continued.
I asked him 100 times to tell me why he was so upset and let him know I’d help him in any way I could. He just kept saying he “wanted me”. I assured him I was right there and he could see me the whole time.
I encouraged him to try again, but with each substitution of the fierce #7 came more standing still as the ball moved past him. Heck, half the time he wasn’t even looking at the ball. I felt so out of control. Nothing I was doing or saying was getting through to Jack. I have NEVER, not in eight years, not been able to get through to one of my children. Frankly, my children do what I say. PERIOD.
I threatened and I bribed, but NOTHING worked. Even so, I wasn’t going to let him get away with crying and getting his way. I made him go back out on the field [much to the dismay of the other Dinosaur Friends (their team name) I’m sure]. I think he just wanted to say, “WTF, why are you making me do this?” I mean that’s what his face says right?
Soon enough the game was over and the Dinosaur Friends lost the game.
I had a long talk with Jack after the game, both with his coach and without. I tried to help him remember the excitement he had for the game all week. I played up the fun and tried to help him through his fear. Maybe now that he knows what to expect he’ll do better. And by better I mean he’ll actually move his feet on the field. I’m not asking for much here.
He did let me know later in the day that next week, “I’m gonna hustle”. And if not, well then all I can say is there’s a reason dinosaurs are extinct (and Jack is one of them).