There's a moment in the life of every parent when they realize that no matter how careful they are and how pure their intentions, they just can't win. This moment came for my mother when my older brother was a little kid (maybe 5 or 6). He invited a whole bunch of friends to his birthday party, and he was getting excited about getting gifts. And he wondered aloud what each kid would be bringing him. But my mother, being a well-intentioned woman who's always looking out for the feelings of others, gave him a little heads-up. She told him that some of the kids who were coming may not bring a gift, and that he shouldn't be upset if they didn't bring one. And when he asked why, she explained nicely that some people don't have a lot of money to spend on birthday gifts for other kids, but that was okay because the party was about having fun, not having money. And she left it at that.
But come time for the party, my brother got a gift from every kid there. And he opened one gift to find that it had cash in it. And instead of thanking the person like he'd done for every other present, he looked right at my mom with a confused look and said, "But Mom… I thought you said they didn't have any money."
So that was the day my mom learned that you just can't win sometimes. And I'm not sure we ever saw that family again.
Well, my day to learn that lesson was this week at my son's soccer practice. I was trying to help Andrew learn to be a little more aggressive on the field. And kicking the ball away from people and putting your hand out to get around them is against all the stuff we've taught him outside of sports. So I explained to him on the way to practice, as best you can to a four-year old, that he needed to be a tad more aggressive in his attempt to get to the ball. I didn't tell him to be mean or hurt anyone. But I thought it would be more fun for him if he really committed to playing the right way. And while my intention was for him to improve, it blew up in my face. Here's how it went at practice:
Andrew (yelling to me from the field): "Daddy, I pushed that boy like you said!"
Me: "Let's not push anybody, pal."
Andrew: "But you said in the car that…"
Me: "Okay buddy! Go kick the ball!"