As a parent, it’s always interesting when you discover that your kids have inherited certain personality traits. It’s interesting and FUN when the traits are “good”: the younger boy is outgoing like I am. He’s very social, and he’s very loyal to his friends. The older boy is very responsible and carries himself very well; I think he gets that from both Jim and me!
It’s interesting and sometimes slightly disturbing when the traits are things that you yourself have struggled with for a lifetime.
The older boy is like me in many other ways too; it’s not necessary (Julesie: “That’s not necessary!!!!”) (sorry, had to throw a private joke in there.) to go over all of them in vivid detail in this post–or at any other time, I guess!–but one in particular had my heart breaking all over the place last night.
The older boy is Intense. Note the use of the capital “I”. We’ve known it since he was born; in fact, people used to remark when looking at my adorable newborn baby, “Wow, he’s really focusing hard. How intense!” (totally true) I’m certain, had he been able to express himself at a week old, he would have been concerned that his Dad and I weren’t getting enough sleep to be able to take care of him, or that maybe we were spending too much of our hard-earned money on diapers, or that we were worried too much about him being up for 2 hours in the middle of the night each time I nursed him. It’s probably why he cried when *anybody* besides me held him during the majority of his first year. Intense, see?
My kid, though a procrastinator (he comes by it honestly; I hear his mother is also a procrastinator), worries about every. little. detail. All the time. He has not only inherited the “Go Big or Go Home” philosophy, but unfortunately also the “Over Analyze Everything” Theory and “What-If Yourself To Death” Ideology. He’s like my Mini-Me, except he’s a guy. And taller.
So, when I finished teaching my spin class last night and called Jim to get an update on the lacrosse game that the 16-year-old was goalie-ing, I found out that they lost, 12-9. Well, you can’t win ‘em all, I guess.
But there was more. The boy caught the ball in the last couple of seconds and it didn’t sit right in his basket, tipped out, and he accidentally scooted it into the net, scoring that twelfth goal for the other team. Yikes. We had just gone to another game on Monday night during which the opposing goalie did the same thing, and I remarked to Julesie that although it is bound to happen eventually, my boy would be beating the crud out of himself if that happened to him. Apparently “eventually” had a plan to meet us this week.
And so I knew what to expect when they arrived at home.
He didn’t say anything to me as he walked right by me and up to his room, closing the door. The younger boy filled me in: “Just so you know, he’s mad because…” and he and Jim told me the whole story. I was making dinner so I finished what I was doing and, after about ten minutes went up to talk to him.
He told me to come in when I knocked, and I found him still in uniform and just sitting on his computer chair, totally dejected. He looked like he just found out that somebody died.
I said, “Bad game, huh?” He nodded.
“Well, you can’t win every time you know. But it’s okay to be upset.” He nodded.
I said, “Your team and coach didn’t say bad things about you, did they?” (I knew they didn’t, of course.) He shook his head.
I wasn’t getting anything out of him, but that was okay. I understand *completely* where he was at. He took on all of the blame for losing the game, and that last goal did not help matters in the slightest. I told him, “Well, I know you’re upset right now and I understand. If you want to talk about it later, we’re happy to listen.”
He came down for dinner shortly after, and could barely eat. We tried to talk to him about it but, still nothing. It is heartbreaking to see your kid have the weight of the world on his shoulders and be unable to lift it for him, even while knowing that you would react in the same way–and have been that way forever. It’s a difficult thing to handle because what outsiders see as “hyper-organized” or “overachieving” is really, plain and simple, a Fear of Failure. Unfortunately, all Jim and I can do for him is BE THERE for him and let him know that, of course, mistakes happen. Of course, he can’t win every game. Of course, we will love him no matter what.
I think he gets it, though. An hour later as I was checking my e-mail, the 16-year-old came downstairs, sat down, and said, “Hi.”
He was ready to talk. Not about the game, but he was talking. And that’s all I cared about.