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.

I could use some advice…

As a father of three; two boys (8 & 6) and a daughter (3), you can imagine that life can get a little crazy.  My wife and I both work full time, which in 2010 is typically defined as 55 hours per week, right?  Add to that work schedule a “kid’s sports” schedule on Mondays, Wednesdays and Thursdays (not including game days) where hockey and soccer practices run until dark and finally, as most of the parents of my generation have done; we continue to overload and overburden our kids with the random Cub Scout meeting, a “play date” and some homework/reading before bed.

If you get a chance, look into the trailer for Race to No Where and you’ll see what we are doing to our kids!  The main focus of my blog is to share personal stories and sometimes struggles with my inability to balance life and work, while maintaining the title of Active and Supportive Father, so I am hoping to hear from other parents who struggle the same way and maybe this site can become a “haven” for the overstretched and overloaded as we work to a common goal of finding some tips to balancing the journey of life.  It is clear that society doesn’t make it easy to have a stay at home parent these days, so the “best laid plans” of working from 9am to 430pm, having dinner with the family at 5pm and then skipping and singing our way to soccer practices just isn’t reality.

In contrast, it is more accurate to say that I typically race home (while on a conference call), fly into the house and shout for someone to pick something up and get a uniform on and when they don’t listen the first time, yelling and throwing things (soft things) can help generate more chaos and make me feel like I’m motivating the troops.  Our family continues its passionately loud discussion related to who will eat what for dinner, how fast they can eat it and then we RACE out the door, jump into a car (I go one way) my wife goes another direction and when schedules are really crazy my father-in-law shoves off in a third direction.  Some time around 830pm we get home, get the kids showered, pass out in bed around 10pm and before we know it, the alarm clock is firing at 6am.

If this lead in made you smile and/or nauseous…congratulations, you’re probably in the same boat (because if you don’t have kids, the drama in this article would have made you stop reading and probably stop having sex for a couple of weeks for fear of embarking on the same kind of chaos in the future)!

Your help is requested.  If you are a parent and you have found ways to simplify life, please add your comments! 

The moral of this article:  Simple is good.  I recognize that I am guilty of over scheduling and over committing my children, which in turn, makes our lives (as parents) even crazier.  My wife and I are working to simplify the demand for formal activities and replace them with “play at the park”, hikes on the weekends and time with friends.  After all, what I’ve seen thus far as a parent; our kids may enjoy all of the activities and time with their friends, but at this age, they would trade it all for more time with the family!

Why “Stop the Chase” exists…

I have been “blogging” for a couple of years and although most of my writing has been industry specific, I did use the blogosphere for a short period of time to share details of my personal struggles with life, work and family.  During that time, I was introduced to a number of people who seem to be on a similar “journey”, a journey motivated by a search for balance, peace, simplicity and humility.  This blog was created with the intent of helping other people through the sharing of thoughts, opinions and experiences.  This blog, Stop the Chase, is going to have weekly posts, regular links & uploads along with the occasional personal opinion piece targeted at helping others “find balance” with the various aspects of life (parenting, work, relationships and financial).

I hope you enjoy.  Feel free to pass this blog around and if you know of other links that could add value, share them with me and I’ll ensure they get posted regularly.