Likability is Contagious

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November 7, 2019-

When I was a child, I was not “picked” for a team until last, most of the time, because of my relative lack of  coordination.  I was, however, not an unpopular person, mainly because everyone was welcome in my yard, and in my sandbox.  The disputes I had with some neighbourhood kids were never permanent.  I was taught that I was not the center of the Universe.

Jordan Peterson entitles his fifth rule for life “Don’t Let Your Kids Behave in A Way That Makes You Dislike Them”.  He notes that many parents vehemently deny that they could ever dislike their children.  I was not one of those.  When our son did something that was distasteful or reprehensible, I thought to myself that it would be remiss of me, as a father, to gloss over it.  So, I corrected him and established the lesson, that what his mother and I found unlikable, other people would also be inclined to take umbrage.

In seeing what he did that was unlikable, I also had to face myself, and look to see if I was also behaving the same way.  Penny was good at making me take account for my flaws, and vice versa.  We helped one another shed a fair amount of baggage, and after her passing, I had to shed a lot more-sometimes with the unwanted help of online critics but most often with my one-on-one self-critiques.

Today, he is largely a self-starter, and has weathered quite a few storms-many of which were not of his own making.  He has many friends and has found a wonderful woman, with whom to build a life.  None of this would have happened, had he been saddled with laissez-faire parents and absent extended family.  Penny’s parents were present, every step of the way, and my siblings took their avuncular duties seriously.

Dr. Peterson has thus encapsulated the need of the human being for constructive criticism, as well as praise, when it is warranted; that we innately have a need for boundaries to be set, as a way to know that we are in a safe environment.  There is no finer gift that a parent can bestow upon a child.

Lessons from Little League

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April 10, 2017, Prescott- 

One of my students asked me to attend his Little League team’s game, this evening.  Having no appointments or meetings, I eagerly headed over to Roughrider Park, the Prescott League’s primary venue.   It was carved from Fort Whipple, many years ago, along with Prescott VA Hospital and Yavapai College.

Team sports teach children several skills.  Some are obvious, like looking out for one’s teammates, decency towards one’s opponents, the value of practice and accepting constructive criticism.  Other lessons, such as everyone has something to contribute and there is no task too menial for a team member to perform, are less front and center- and sometimes must be sought out.

It’s been several years since I watched 8-10 year-old children in the course of learning these types of lessons, in an athletic setting.  Some things have changed:  Adults are not necessarily the only umpires.  Men are not necessarily the only coaches and managers.  The opposing team was managed by a woman.  Each team had at least one girl player, and each girl held her own.  Proves what I have felt to be true, since junior high school:  Skill is skill.

The basics, though, remain constant, and baseball will remain a key pastime of youth, for a good many generations to come.