A friend of mine had her first baby yesterday (hooray!) and so I've had newborns on my mind for the last 24 hours or so. I was remembering how intense parenting is in those first few months, how exhausting. Sean is absolutely ancient compared to this new little baby (and an enormous moose, too!), and can do things such as tell me what he needs, walk, and play on the computer. In many ways he--though still in his babyhood--is sooooo much easier than a newborn.
But then they grow up even more and things get kinda hard again (and I don't even have teenagers yet!). Here's an example from just this morning. Ryan and I were folding his laundry and, picking up his soccer shirt, I remembered that it's time to register for fall soccer. So I asked him if he wanted to play again. He had a blast last spring, so I was more than a little surprised when he said no.
At first he was pretty vague about why. Yes, it was fun. Yes, he'd enjoyed himself. Yes, he wanted to see C. again (one of his special buddies and a fellow food allergy kid, too). Yes, yes, yes, only . . . no. So I asked him about other kids on the team and he then THEN! he mentions that he liked them all except for one kid, N., who was "kind of bossy and aggressive." Ryan doesn't want to see N. again, or even face the possibility of seeing N. Apparently N. did a lot of punching, too.
Now honestly, I have no clue who N. is, and I never saw anything like bullying behavior during soccer (nor do I think that would have been tolerated). I suspect that if N. is kind of bossy and aggressive, then that's rather a turn-off for Ryan, being the aggressively bossy type himself. :o) As far as the punching? It's very possible that it was playful kind of kid (boy?) punching, and I do remember seeing the guys on his team doing some of that stuff. It even occurred to me at the time that apparently 7 or 8 is when the sports-related punching gene seemed to turn itself on. Maybe I'm wrong about that though.
I told Ryan that I wished he'd mentioned this to me back when soccer was going on, because it's the kind of problem I can help him resolve, that's what I'm here for, it's my job, etc. That maybe the coaches didn't know. We talked about how N. might not be on his team next time, since Ryan is moving up to the 8-9 year old group.
We talked about making a decision about this based on whether or not he thought he'd have fun, what HIS values are, and not based on the possibility that this kid will be there. In other words, making a self-interested decision versus a second-handed decision, and why it's important to think about your values first. If he decided he wanted to play soccer, that this was a value to him, then I will help him with N. if he's still a problem.
It was at this point that Ryan said, "I'm not playing soccer and I really don't want to talk about this any more." So I asked to say one more thing, and stressed that I thought he should make his decision based on his values, and reiterated that it's my job to help. Then we dropped it and went downstairs.
All this before coffee!!!
And I hate this kind of stuff--and I know it's only going to get even more complicated, in ways I can't quite even imagine (though I remember my own teenage years, and those of my siblings).
So many unanswered questions. Is N. a bully? Was he awful to Ryan? If so, why oh why didn't Ryan mention it? Doesn't he trust me or want me to help? Would he have been embarrassed by my help? Was there even a kid named N. on the team? Is this just an excuse Ryan thought up because he doesn't want to play soccer again? If so, what's the real reason? Etc. Etc. Etc.
Arg arg arg. Almost makes me yearn for the newborn days . . . almost. :o)