Tim was on David’s Pee-Wee football team this Fall. Tim has health issues that create physical challenges. It’s obvious to all the kids that he’s different. He isn’t as fast, he’s small, he wears a special brace.
David asked my husband and I about it after practice one day. We told him, “Yes, Tim’s different, but it doesn’t matter. You just be a good friend to Tim.”
During a Pee-Wee game every kid gets the chance to run the ball, and score a touchdown. It’s a very high scoring game, because usually the kid with the ball is fast enough to break away before the other kids figure out what’s going on. In fact they don’t keep score, because there are no winners or losers when it comes to this age group.
During one game it was Tim’s turn to run the ball. Because of his physical challenges the boys on the other team quickly caught up to him, and were about to tackle him. Suddenly, David running as fast as he could, put himself between Tim and the other boys.
David is big for his age. He’s taller than all the the other PeeWee players. Even his arms are longer than theirs. He ran behind Tim, arms outstretched, blocking the other boys until Tim crossed the goal line, and scored a touchdown.
Dave talked to David at home about blocking, but it wasn’t something the boys worked on in practice. At five years old the coaches are mostly just concerned with getting the boys to hold on to the ball, and run in the right direction.
Later I told David, “You know, Tim made a touchdown today, because you blocked for him.”
He shrugged, “I was just being a good friend.”
David didn’t just hear what we said. He understood it. He took it to heart, and he acted on it, when he didn’t have to. We weren’t expecting David to do what he did. There were no consequences waiting for David if he hung in the back of the pack, and let the other team tackle Tim.
For me there was more to it than David just obeying an instruction we’d given him. It reveled to me, however feeble our attempts, we were raising a young man of good character.
It’s not always easy to see when you’re arguing with your five year old about why he has to put his, “pants on Now because you can not walk to the bus stop in your Toy Story underwear, and the bus will not wait for you, and I don’t want to throw you and your brother in the van and drive you 20 minutes to school, because I haven’t even had my coffee yet, and have you seen how much gas costs lately?! Do you want Christmas presents?!”
Kids fight you, and push back at home. A lot of times you get their worst, because they know you love them anyway. It’s what they do when there are no expectations, no impending threat of punishment or promise of reward. It’s what they do when you’re not hovering, when they don’t know you’re watching that revels who they truly are.
Have you “caught” your kid being good lately?