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Trying to get in the head of a 4-year-old

Submitted by on Tuesday, 1 June 2010 No Comment

Boots woke Monday morning with one of his best smiles,  leaping out of bed and downstairs for breakfast. “HOORAY!!” he cheered. “It’s soccer camp day!”

Even though he hadn’t been particularly enthused during the indoor season – he liked it OK, but he didn’t love it – he begged to go to a week-long soccer camp. So I wrote a hefty check and enrolled both of them.

By the time I arrived to pick him up at the end of the first session, he was plopped in the middle of the field, sniffing. Apparently there had been a run-in with another player who’d been a bit too rough – I heard the other kid come over and apologize. That didn’t matter to Boots. Every little bump is a personal affront these days.

So he walked off the field vowing to quit soccer camp. Fine, I said, mentally groaning at the memory of the hefty check.

By afternoon, he was demonstrating dribbling skills he hadn’t had before and showing off a game he’d learned. “Soccer camp is fun! I’m going back.”

That lasted until time for camp to start this morning. He was fine just minutes before, playing happily with a friend. On his way to his corner of the field, though, he fell and scraped a hand. Scrape might be too strong a term. Scuffed is more like it. Seriously. He’d barely broken the skin.

Ohhhhhhhhhhh. I can’t play now. I’m injured.”

No amount of talking would convince him that amputation wouldn’t be necessary and since soccer is played primarily with the feet anyway, he’d be OK.

“No. I quit soccer. Unless you stay,” he said, looking around at many other parents who sit for two to three hours a day and watch the camp. I’ve explained many times why I can’t be at school every day (work hours) but I can sit through baseball practice every night (not work hours). He doesn’t accept that. Clearly, I don’t love him as much as the omnipresent parents love their kids. Sometimes I wish I could be the omnipresent parent – he’s never been as independent as Big Guy. Other times I wonder if that would do him a greater disservice in the long run.

He probably would have come around if I’d insisted that he stay, but it’s not fair to the coaches and the other players.  Not that the current situation is particularly fair to anyone either, and it’s driving the both of us quite mad.

Boots begs to do an activity then quickly wants to quit. I pay for the activity then lose the money when he backs out.

Part of the problem is that he can’t figure out what he wants, and neither can I. I often suspect that he only wants to in soccer, karate and baseball because he’s seen how much Big Guy loves it and thinks it should be just as much fun for him. He takes it personally when it’s not.  Meanwhile, we’ve yet to find the pursuit that makes his little heart happy. Other than the Wii, and I’ll be hanged if he’s going to do that all day. I don’t care if he doesn’t take any extra classes or play any sports, but sitting 24-7 in front of a screen isn’t going to be an option.

Today when we got home and he’d calmed down from his lengthy diatribe about rude mommies and the mean people at soccer camp, I went through the list of other classes available on post. “There’s dancing and gymnastics and music class that you can try. You don’t have to do something just because  your brother is.”

His eyes lit up, and he said he wanted to try dancing and gymnastics. I  hope those classes aren’t filled with rude people who are mean to him.

Copyright 2010 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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