I’ve always been an athletic person. Even in my older, chubbier dad years, I still feel like I can hold my own on a sports field.
I got this from my Dad. In a bittersweet and cruel twist of fate, I lost my father on the same day my wife found out that we were pregnant with our first child. Regrettably, I never got the chance to sit down and talk dad stuff with him. I didn’t get to ask him questions about my youth, or his for that matter and that’s one of those things that you regret as a son and father.
From the young age of 6 and maybe sooner for all I can remember, my dad encouraged me to take part in sport and I gladly obliged. Really by the time I was a teenager, sports was all I knew and I loved the feeling of being able to excel in something that I knew made my dad proud. He didn’t force anything on me, I truly enjoyed the time it afforded us together.
He coached almost every team I ever played on and when we weren’t at the diamond or on the ice, he always made time to ask if there was anything I wanted to work on in my respective disciplines. He went as far as building a rink in our backyard every year and also making a huge net for me to take batting practice in the garage. We grew very close through sports and when I found out that I was going to become a father, I couldn’t help but hope for the same type of result with my son.
Flash Forward to today, my son is almost four years old and is more than ready to start carving his niche in the world. Obviously I would love for that to involve sports but I worry about the prospect of him not wanting anything to do with it. After all, sports is really all I knew growing up, so naturally I have a lot to offer as far as coaching and experience go.
I have also developed a love for music, but as a singer with no formal training and no instrumental skills, there’s really not much I can teach him other than a brief history of rock and roll and what I learned from the Foo Fighters documentary. So that brings us back to sports as my main source of expert knowledge to share with my son.
I’ve started trying to get him into sporty things. I tried to get him to watch hockey with me but without Lightning McQueen or Buzz Lightyear on either team, my efforts fell by the wayside. I still remember the first day he asked me if I wanted to go outside and play hockey, I beamed with joy and shot outside so fast that I forgot to bring him with me. The hockey game lasted 5 minutes before hide and seek became all the rage.
Now we’ve begun soccer lessons and I can’t tell if he enjoys it or not. I know he has fun at it but I wonder if it’s because of the sport aspect or because he has a couple buddies in the class. He’s starting to understand that when the ball or puck goes into the net, he’s done something worth celebrating and while I try to make a big deal out of his goals, I also don’t want to look like one of those crazy parents at a sporting event that makes their kid and themselves look ridiculous.
The point of this article is not to criticize my son on his ability or interest in sports, it’s to shed light on my insecurity that if he decides sports aren’t for him, what do I have to offer him as a father? It’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot as a father who doesn’t want to fail his son.
In the end, no matter what he decides his path will be, I am going to be supportive (unless he chooses a life of crime I suppose). I also want to be able to help him grow into the kind of person my father has helped me to become, regardless of his life choices. And I guess I would just feel more confident if that life included something tangible I knew how to teach him, other than life necessities such as using the toilet and brushing his teeth, which my wife and dentist will attest to as being things I’m not even that good at, lol.
Thanks for letting me share a little bit of my inner workings with you. It feels good to put it all down in writing, even if no one reads it. I often wonder if Mom’s struggle with the same insecurities that us Dad’s do? They always seem to have such a level head about everything and look to have it all put together as natural parents. If I had to do half the work my wife does or that my mother did, I think my head would literally explode into tiny pieces.
If you have anything you want to say about this topic, please feel free to leave me a comment below. I check and respond to them all and love hearing from everyone.