Dad, what’s an “all-star”?

Dad, what’s an “all-star”?

This was the question posed to me last night by my 8 year old son.  He overheard my wife and me talking about our 6 year old and the upcoming City Soccer Club U6 all-star game.  It wasn’t the question that tripped me up; it was the look in his eyes when he asked it.

My oldest son is an amazing boy; he has the vocabulary of a 15 year old, has been reading on his own for 3 years, he can throw a ball with the best of them, mathematics comes as natural to him as breathing and he has a gentle soul; one that naturally has him be kind, gentle and supportive to those around him, so when he sheepishly asked me about being an all-star, I knew I had done something wrong because from his perspective, all of his amazing abilities appeared to fade away.  His eyes welled up a bit and he said “you want me to be an all-star, right Dad?” which was code for; “I haven’t done a good enough job for you, right?”

Dad, what’s an “all-star”?

I have a good friend and life coach who recently shared her thoughts on raising children and she told me that she believes nothing to be more arrogant than the act of setting an expectation for a child.  When she shared her opinion I argued it, naturally, because I had been a believer of expectation setting and more importantly, expectation achievement.  Her belief system is so different from mine and as I have had time to digest it, it’s beginning to make more sense to me.  As a parent, we should be here for one primary reason; to love our children, unconditionally.  Too often we expect our kids to exceed what we might have accomplished in life or we expect them to follow in our path, which is inherently arrogant, isn’t it?  Instead of expectations couldn’t we simply offer love and guidance and accept that their path in life is just that; their path.  Our role becomes that of inserting a solid moral compass and enabling our children to become productive adults by showing the respect they deserve while experiencing life. Whether we believe it or not; our kids are going to follow their own path and as a parent, like me, we should work to recognize that, right? 

Dad, what’s an “all-star”?

The look of vulnerability and disappointment being shown was enough to break my heart.  As a parent, I believe these are opportunities that afford us time to support and show love, so I did.  Instead of an answer on what is an all-star, I shared my belief regarding effort and its role in life.  I shared my personal belief that not every boy or girl will be an “all-star” on the field and not all great teams are made up of “all-stars”, either.  We talked about the effort needed in school and at home and I shared that as long as he knew in his heart that he had given an effort that was as strong as he could muster then he’d have nothing to ever be disappointed about.  I finished my little speech and gave him a hug and kiss and he looked up at me and said, “Dad…I think I can work a little harder and do a little more to help my soccer team.”  What a comment!  After all of this talk about what makes an individual “all-star” my son equated the effort we talked about and is looking to apply it to helping others, not himself.

Dad, what’s an “all-star”?

You are kiddo…you are.