I picked up my son today from daycare and his teacher pulled me aside. Anytime there’s a pull-aside moment, I have flashbacks of when I was a boy and was reprimanded by some teacher for doing something, well, something a boy would do. Anyway, as I cleared my mind of the grade-school flashback, I listened to what she had to say. Your son didn’t want to exercise today. He decided to sit down while the other boys and girls did their exercise. Hmm. Ok. Is that it?
Then I thought, wait a minute, he loves to exercise. He loves to play and has more energy than that freakin rabbit in the battery commercial. Why wouldn’t he want to exercise. Tired? Sick?
When we got into the car I asked him “Ms. Teacher told me you didn’t feel like exercising today. Did you exercise today?” He went on to tell me he did. Well, at least he started to. Turns out, as I continued to listen, he told me he and another boy were racing. The rest of the boys and girls were cheering for the other boy. He didn’t like that too much, so he decided to stop.
I could have just let it go or replied with a ‘well, that’s not very nice is it?’ but that’s just not me.
You know buddy, when I’m running, a lot of times I’m alone. And a lot of times, I get really tired and I want to stop. Then I remember to cheer to myself “Come on Greg. Keep moving. You’re doing great.”. That helps me get through the tough times when I’m tired.
Silence (which usually means he’s thinking – or looking at a squirrel). “Daddy, I tried that and it didn’t work”. Which means he didn’t try it and he’s not sure if it would work but he needs me to know he already knew about it. Then he asked me a question “Daddy, if I were racing with the other boys, who would you cheer for? Them or me?”.
Pretty powerful question from a four year old. My immediate response was that I’d cheer for him. That I’d always cheer for him. That I’m always in his corner. I then proceeded to cheer for him in the car. “Yeah! Great Job! Way to go! Yahooooooo! [and I make this crowd noise followed by ‘and the crowd goes wild’]. His smile stretched across his face. Him knowing that I was in his corner and that I would always cheered for him gave him the boost I believe he was looking for.
I wanted to teach him that although it’s nice to have our friends cheer for us, what’s most important is that we cheer for ourselves. He reminded me that a father’s cheer carries a lot of weight…in gold.