When I was in college we had an assignment to reflect upon the quote, “How can I know I’ve come far enough without going too far?”
It struck me then – and now is resonating in my life experience.
Tucker has been in football camp over the past three days. We have developed amazing relationships with his coaches throughout the years. The problem? They may know and like him too well.
We’ve noticed that Tucker isn’t really getting ‘better’ with regards to skill. So, my husband decided to attend the sessions in a sneaky way. Watching Tucker without Tucker knowing he’s watching. It turns out that our beloved coaches are well…sort of…no…really, letting him get away with things the other boys aren’t allowed to get away with.
That has NEVER been our goal in strong advocating. Our goal has been education – not an easy path or free ride.
All of this is with good intention, of course – they love Tuck and want to see him out for sports, creating relationships and being part of the team. They are all teachers so they recognize that these skills are incredibly important for him to learn.
After practice last night my husband had a great conversation with the coaches. They all responded with, “We don’t want to push him too hard – we want him to be happy and enjoy the game.” That is true – and I am very thankful for that. The problem is that if he doesn’t continue to get better, to progress – at some point he will realize that the coaches don’t have the same expectations as they do of the other young men.
Tucker knows the difference between making accommodations and being a charity case.
After my husband’s conversation with the coaches he told me what he thinks is really going on. Remember when we had rubric troubles? The troubles stemmed from the fact that Tucker is too darn smart for his own good. He knew if he achieved ‘good’ on these rubrics that his mom and teachers would leave him alone and he could get back to reading his book – doing what he wanted to do. So, I asked his teachers to not give him rubrics. Instead, I asked them to simply give him a checklist of the ‘excellent’ qualifiers.
Guess what happened? He consistently achieved in the excellent category because that was the expectation. It was no longer a choice.
The same thing is happening at football. He gives effort and still receives positive feedback – but he is not giving his all. It’s the same idea. His coaches love him and he does just what they ask…but nothing more – and we know he has more to give.
It’s time. It’s time to start pushing him. How do we know what he can give unless we are willing to go too far?
So, I challenged my husband. I challenged the coaches. Find the line. Know that he’ll go into emotional overload in these moments:
- When the feedback is negative and personal.
- When he doesn’t understand what is being asked.
- When he feels singled out.
- When full instructions haven’t been given.
- When he tries to ask a question but is shut down.
In those moments – back off. In all other moments? Push.
I want my cake…and I want to eat it too.
Is that too much to ask?