Today I am thankful for role reversals.
My dad used to tell me to watch out, one day I’d sound like him. Sorry Dad. Nope. No way. Not ever. That’s crazy talk. When I’m a dad I’ll do things differently. The times when I said that were often after my sporting events when he hollered at me to hustle. Much of his yelling at sporting events was appreciated, but for whatever reason many times all I could remember was him telling me to work harder, hustle more, or to give more.
The funny thing was that I only ever heard two voices during my sports events, my coach’s and my dad’s. As much as he would drive me nuts with his constant pushing I couldn’t shut his voice out. No matter how loud it was I would hear it clear as a bell.
So why did it bother me so much? Because he was right and admitting that in my head at the time would totally kill me. Didn’t he see the call the refs blew before that? Didn’t he see how good the other players were? Didn’t he hear the coach give me bad advice, no advice, or not give me advice? Dad, it’s not my fault, I’m giving my all!
But I wasn’t, and deep down I knew my reasoning was nothing but a bunch of excuses. Other people would holler out things that made it easier for me to project my mistakes and shortcomings onto others. The other team was lucky, the ref made a bad call, you tried hard. All things that would have let me easily off the hook. But my dad’s voice was the one that cut through the sound and cut to the truth. I was not giving my all and he wouldn’t let me think otherwise.
At some point in my life this thought process became a part of me. I know when I am not giving my all and it kills me. There are always people around us who will try to cheer me up, but deep down I know when I didn’t give 100% and I use this to motivate and drive me to do better the next time.
Fast forward to today. At Dominic’s game I cheered like I normally do. Some may find it surprising, but I’m relatively quiet during the game. There are a handful of things that I find myself hollering most often are “hustle,” “wheels” (code for “you’re not running as fast as you should be”), “push” (code for “you’re not working as hard as you should be”), “c’mon” (code for “you’re not giving 100%”), and “you’re about to be subbed out, let’s go.” At some point I realized what I was saying and where I’ve heard it before…
Ugh. My dad was right again. Seems like there has been a lot of “crazy old man talk” that I’ve found to be more wisdom than crazy ramblings of an old guy who didn’t understand.
During the games and the rides home I spent some time thinking about that. For as much as it used to bother me as a kid, why was I doing the same to my son? To be sure, I’m positive that some very small base level of it is habit. The main reason though is that the values my dad was teaching me during those games have become part of the core of who I am and what makes me Mike. These games are an excellent real time, real world situation where I can coach him in the moment and help hime develop the ability to know when he is not giving his best, accept responsibility for it and be accountable to himself, and to learn how to grow and become better from those times.
While it is tough to I know that I am frustrating him with my coaching at times, I also know that he will be happier through life because of it… just as I have been. Just as I’m sure my dad felt as he was helping and coaching me.
Funny how many times through life the student becomes the teacher, realizes they are still a student and blessed to still have the teacher, and have even more respect for the teacher having the guts to have had the tough conversations they needed.