February 11, 2013 by Ray Yanek
Being a parent is wonderful.
Your home is filled with the happy pitter-patter of little pajamed feet. Bright, sometimes toothless, smiles greet you on sunny mornings as birds sing outside. Your children will make up cute little prayers of thanksgiving at the family dinner table and then regale you with humorous anecdotes. They’ll give big yawns as they drift easily off to sleep while listening to you recite wonderful stories. You’ll smile and blow them kisses as you watch them sleep in the pale glow of their night-light.
And if you believe any of what I just wrote above, drop the bong and get on the first train out of Fairy Land, people.
Being a parent is hard. Brutal at times. Downright monkey-suckish at others.
It’s hard not because kids are whiny or because they talk back, not because they drain both your savings account and your refrigerator, not because they break your heart and grow up.
Being a parent sucks because sometimes our children make us stop and take a good, honest look at ourselves.
All those annoying little things our kids do to make us run for the vodka stashed in the fabric softener bottle? Guess what? They’re not doing those things because they’re wicked, evil, or known on another plane of existence as Balformo, the Ass-Stomper of Worlds.
They’re acting like that because they’re acting like us.
Carl Jung wrote that “if there is anything that we wish to change in the child, we should first examine it and see whether it is not something that could be better changed in ourselves.”
My daughter (whom I’ve written about a few times here and here) is an athlete. She’s a sixth grader now and playing her first year of volleyball. Softball though, that’s her first love. She made the U12 ASA travel team this year and she wants to be a pitcher. Every Saturday, her and I get up early (actually she gets up a bit earlier…) and I drive her to pitching lessons. I’ll sit on a bucket with my back to the wall and catch for her. More and more often now, her fastball pops the catcher’s mitt—as well as the joints and bones in my wrist and hand.
Good times, right? Pop and daughter playing some ball, making memories we’ll cherish as we skip, hand-in-hand, into the breeze-tussled, meadow of daisies that is the future, right?
Yeah, not quite.
Usually, there aren’t a whole helluva lot of warm, fuzzy feelings spawning from those lessons. I tend to get a bit irritable. I tend to get a wee bit frustrated when I feel like she’s not giving her all and trying her best to live up to her potential and to achieve the dreams and goals she wants.
Actually, I act like kind of a jerk
Okay, okay… sometimes I act like that father everyone wants to take out to the alley and torture with the power tools the good dad’s got on Father’s Day.
But we’ve been going to these pitching lessons for quite a while now and it seems like, as I sit there on my bucket, I hear the coaches telling my daughter the same things time after time: keep your elbow in, don’t hunch over, stay narrow, fast arm, dust that little brat off the plate, etc.
The same things. All the time. And the reason why she’s not getting over these humps is because she’s not practicing enough outside of her weekly lesson or weekly off-season team practice. Granted, she’s in 6th grade. She has homework, she plays volleyball right now, she’s in band, and she needs to be a kid too, but even when she has all of that stuff done something always takes precedence over her desire to practice pitching. Even when I push she resists, argues, and comes up with every excuse in the book why she doesn’t want to throw.
It’s frustrating, because I want her to understand she has a talent and a gift. I want her experience with sports to teach her the necessity of dedication, hard work, and persistence.
But I know also that if I push too hard I’ll take all the fun out of the sport.
So I let her go to goof around on her IPod or to chat with her friends. I sigh and go sit at the kitchen table, drink a cup of coffee, stare at the wall and flick motes of dust from the table.Then, I start to wonder why I let this blog go. I wonder why I have all those short stories sitting in a file folder that I’ve never sent out. I wonder why I still haven’t finished this draft of the novel in progress and why I’m still futzing around with the ending and why I tend to find every excuse in the world to not be at my desk.
I think about my daughter again, and I realize how big of a hypocrite I can sometimes be.
I need to get back to work, stay dedicated myself.
I need to remember that there are little eyes watching my every move, little eyes that see everything I do.
So to make me feel a little better about myself, leave me a comment and let me know what bad habits of yours your little bundles of wonderful have picked up from you. Get writing, or I’ll unleash Balformo…