No. 3 is testing the limits. We, his parents are fortifying the walls and building a few bastions to defend our domain. No. 1 and No.2 were and continue to be compliant with the rules of “Castle Matua” except for a few missteps here and there. But No. 3 has issued a challenge and thrown down the gauntlet. He refuses to play football this season and his decision is final. For months now Super Mom and I have been playing along in the charades in the hopes that time, his peers and a little nudge from former coaches will convince him to participate in football rather than be a mere spectator. Last night after yet another conversation about the upcoming season, No. 3 dug in his heels a bit deeper and made it absolutely clear that his mind would not be changed.
I’m furious. Super Mom is devastated. No. 3 is gloating.
For years we have been saying that we would never force our sons to play sports or participate in an activity that they no longer felt a compulsion or desire to compete in. That rule still stands but this season I wish it was abolished simply because No. 3 is a kid whom we feel needs to stay active and engaged with a good set of peers or else he may fall into bad habits with a group of less than desirable influences. We have always been concerned about No. 3 because of his personality; we are more concerned now that he’s showing a bit of defiance. Even scarier than that is the fact that he continues to show me a glimpse of another stubborn kid who had a chip on his shoulder and a lot of rebelliousness – me!
This is not the first time this has happened. Last season No. 2 did not participate in football but his inactivity was due to poor performance in school and that made it easier to overlook the fact that he could not play footvall. No. 3 just doesn’t care. We have asked him to come up with another activity or hobby that he can be involved in but he has yet to come up with something productive or within our basic criteria: 1) The activity can be something that serves others or helps the community; 2) You can make money or 3) you can play another sport or participate in another activity that keeps you physically fit and engaged. We refuse to let any of our sons sit around throughout the summer break and video games and television are not on the approved list of activities.
So for the remainder of the summer break, No. 3 is going to find service opportunities and other activities to occupy his time while the rest of us are involved in football. I’m not excited about it, but I also don’t want to be a dictator and I’m well aware of the historical context in relation to dictatorships. My duty is to provide, guide, encourage and love and I refuse to take away my son’s free-agency no matter how much I loathe watching him take a counter-productive route. It will be a long season without him in cleats but I have to be okay with that or risk alienating my son and ruining an already tenuous relationship.
This fatherhood thing is rough!