Adventures in Parenting

Posted: June 29, 2009 
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“Never raise your hand to your kids. It leaves your groin unprotected.” – Red Buttons

I think we’re finally making the transition to become real Texans. As of this week, both our children have been involved in football. Amelia played in the Spring Upwards football league. She enjoyed it, but didn’t really kick into gear until the final game of the season. JJ, on the other hand, who began his first night of “football skills camp” tonight, was full blast from the opening whistle tonight. A 10-year-old boy with aggression to release and energy to burn…what a shock!

One big difference in their involvement was that Amelia begged to play, then only half-heartedly played through most the season. This to the dismay of her coaches who started with high hopes because she was the tallest person on the team. You’d think she’d outrun the other kids because, as JJ tells her, she has freakishly long legs. What the coaches didn’t know is that she’s more likely to amble like a giraffe than run like a gazelle.

JJ had the opposite reaction to preseason discussion of whether he would do football camp. He might want to do it, not really sure. This morning he begged not to do it. He whined all day about having to go. Then arrived at practice and took off like it was the best thing ever. He did come to the sidelines at one point and share that it was great. Again, this may have to do with being allowed to hit tackle dummies and demonstrate lots of aggression without being told to calm down.

During the last hour of today’s football camp they played scrimmage games. JJ got to start as quarterback for the first game. He actually ran a play for a ¾ field touchdown. (They weren’t practicing on a 100 yard field.) After practice I made him say, “Dad was right.” Our bedtime discussion tonight was about how parents make decisions in the best interest of their children. Even when those decisions don’t reflect what the child wants to do. It’s why a mom or dad tells the doctor to give the vaccination shot. It’s why we make decisions about rules and discipline. It’s not because those decisions are always fun. Trust me, we could do without the drama if we thought the easier way was the best choice.

Allowing our children to only do what pleases them produces a person who only lives for their own pleasure. They tend to think they should only have to do what they want to do. They think the rules don’t apply to them because they don’t like the rules. As I told JJ, every adult has to answer to someone. Even the wealthiest person has to answer to the government and pay taxes. I wonder if some of the businessmen being caught in large scandals spent their childhood with parents who gave in to their every whim; letting them think the world revolves around the rules they WANT to live by.

Life for parents would be quieter if we’d give in to our kid’s wants and desires. But it’s not worth it. Billy Graham once said, “A child who is allowed to be disrespectful to his parents will not have true respect for anyone.” So, do what I say because I’m not raising a punk!

By the way, the greatest danger I see with this football transition it that Deana & I seem to be transitioning into “Texas football parents.” I’m not exactly sure what that means, but before I arrived at the camp Deana was texting me proud details of JJ’s plays. I found cheering him on and letting him know afterwards how proud I was of him. That doesn’t seem too obsessive, does it? Maybe it was coming home and checking into college football scholarships that pushed it over the top.



Yes, that’s Amelia behind the wheel of the family van on vacation. It was country driving on a private driveway, but I was still completely against it. My dad decision was that I would not have any part of it, but I would exit the vehicle and mom could decide. Trust me, it was for the best that I not be in the van. I’m sure my screaming would have upset Amelia…and Deana. She actually did a good job – Deana and Amelia. Until she stopped and asked if she did a good job, at which point her mother and I both screamed, “Put it in park!”

– While on vacation we passed an informational sign along the interstate. JJ said, “This may be a good place to stop because they have a hysterical marker.”

– JJ was talking about a bad habit he’s developed. He said he was going to try and stop doing it. Always the helpful sister, Amelia offered to help him. She told him, “I’ll hit you every time you do it to help you stop.” (A sister with a heart of gold.)

– I suggested we get a family picture when we were all dressed nice at a recent wedding. Actually, what I said was, “Let’s take a nice family photo.” JJ’s reply…“What nice family are we taking a picture of?”

– At a sports banquet Amelia was getting “love notes” from another player on the team seated a few seats down the row. He was passing notes to her down the row that said “I like you.” and “You’re nice.” The punk, which this boy shall forever be designated by Amelia’s father, passed her one saying, “I love you,” which Amelia passed to the coach sitting next to her and said, “This is to you from the team.” It put a stop to the notes. (I like her thinking.)

– JJ did something to bother his sister and she asked him where he comes up with all these annoying things. He told her, “From the book 100 Ways to Annoy Your Sister.” Amelia said, “I’d like to read that book.” JJ replied, “I’m not done writing it yet.”
Yes, this is Amelia braiding the mane of a horse. It makes the hair wavy. Only our daughter. However, the bigger question is “Why is she wearing a jacket when the display across the street said it was 96-degrees?” This took place downtown Dallas, at the West End Marketplace – for our non-Dallas friends that’s the area near where JFK was shot. We had been to a concert, then supper downtown.

We do make our kids do certain things. Sometimes to over come fears. Sometimes to help them grow as a person. Sometimes because we simply know it’s in their best interest. I was with JJ’s class as a counselor at Adventure Camp this Spring. This climbing wall was bigger than the indoor versions. JJ came over to me and said he didn’t want to do it. I told him it wasn’t a choice and he had to try. He needed to set a goal of how far he wanted to make it, and it didn’t have to be all the way to the top; then at least aim for that spot. Needless to say, he exceeded his goal and nearly made it to the top. (He looked down and scared himself when he was close.) He was so happy to tell mom (and anyone else who’d listen) that he almost got to the top, and next time he will. All because dad told him he had to try. Sometimes father still knows best.

The Unexamined Life and All
– Jeff

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