We told the story recently of the wakeup call that Rich Cohen got from his son’s hockey coach. Complaining about playing time, the coach asked if Rich’s son was happy, and when Rich said he was, the coach asked, “Then what do you care?”
But of course, sometimes these lessons don’t actually stick. The wakeup call comes…but we hit snooze. Sometimes, it’s actually our kids who understand these things faster than us, sometimes they’re the ones who have to deliver the message we’ve been reluctant to hear.
Frustrated again, this time when a different interim coach—with a kid on the team—started giving Rich’s son’s playing time to his own child, Rich tried to explain the unfairness of the situation to his son, since the young boy seemed mostly oblivious to the injustice. Don’t you see what’s happening, Rich said, don’t you see you have to fight for yourself? But his son shrugged it off.
One day, after a particularly egregious game, the two were talking about the situation in the car on the ride home. “Does it bother you at all?” Not much, his son said. “Why not???” Rich asked, exasperatedly. “Because no matter where they put me,” his son said with perfect earnestness, “it’s still hockey.”
Our kids get it better than us. They can pick up the wisdom and knowledge being dropped, because their hands aren’t full with the baggage we have been carrying with us for who knows how many years. We have to make sure we don’t screw them up with our own petty priorities or hold them down under the weight of our jaded adult frustrations.
Their attitude is better, purer and happier. We should let them teach it to us.