This is a continuation of the examples I use in my talks to parent groups about the importance of engaging with kids, and helping them see who they are by reflecting back to them their own interests. This is about my daughter Nellie.
A couple of years later, both boys are in school and Nellie who’s four now, and I, are home alone. Rather than reading or doing crafts as I dreamed my little girl would want to do, she would like to play baseball! She wants me to pitch her balls while she stands with a whiffle bat and tries to hit them! I did not have a girl so I could pitch balls! But, the truth is, I am more interested in letting her be who she is than in entertaining myself. I will have more than enough time for that later. Now is the moment she is little and I am home with her and she wants me to pitch her balls.
So, reluctantly I stand in the grass in the front yard. She’s twenty feet away holding a plastic bat waiting for me to pitch. I toss one her way and see immediately it isn’t good, landing right at her feet instead of sailing into the strike zone which I am fairly unfamiliar with anyway. It is tempting to make excuses since I am not good at this, and go inside to pay bills which these days, with only one child home at times, is actually possible. But that can happen once she’s at preschool and the boys are still at school and there is a ninety minute moment that I am alone. I refocus on my game.
“Oh, sorry, let me try that again,” I say, hoping I get into the game soon.
“It’s okay,” she offers.
We’ve been down this road plenty so she already knows I’m not too good at pitching. She throws the ball back and says, “Try it like Dad does. Higher, Mom.” Clearly she wants to do this bad enough to put up with a second rate pitcher, and I therefore owe her a serious attempt at it. Sometimes she even pitches to herself, so it is clear to me this is what she wants to do.
I try again and she bends her knees and dips into the pitch, hitting the ball past me and running to our designated first base.
“Yeah! You did it! Great hit on a lousy pitch, honey. Great job!”
She smiles, she returns to home plate and we continue on haltingly until time for lunch and then on to afternoon preschool.
Thankfully for us both, there are other days when she wants to use the EASY BAKE oven or try stampers and paints.