Last week, we sat down to dinner after school and soccer practice and the general craziness of a day and Gabe started crying when I said it was time for baseball.
He didn’t want to play baseball, he said.
I asked him why and he said he just didn’t like playing anymore.
I was upset, not because he was not going to play, but because we had already paid for the season and I had asked him 10 times if he was sure he wanted to play before we signed him up and he said yes.
It was one of those nights where everything piles up (including Olivia taking a Vaseline bath…oye…) and it leads to something that’s not a big deal at all seeming like a very big deal. Do you ever have those nights? Thought so. He cried, I cried and got mad, Matt got mad at me, I got mad at Matt, everyone was upset. Love nights like those.
Later on that night, when things had settled down, I went into Gabe’s room to say goodnight and to chat with him about baseball. I asked him why he said he wanted to play when he really didn’t. He said he thought I would be upset if he didn’t play. I shared with him that the reason I asked him ten times if he was sure he wanted to play was because I really was hoping he’d say no! Once you get to kid pitch, the games are l-ooooo-ng and boring and, as much as I’ll do anything my kids love, I knew he didn’t love it and was hoping he’d say no. But he said yes so I signed him up.
What ended up happening is we had a marvelous conversation about saying yes when you really mean no. We talked about how hard it is to say no when you think the person asking really wants you to say yes. So many things are coming up for him as he enters junior high next year and he’s going to have to be strong. We talked about what happens when your friend asks you to steal, buy beer, kiss a girl, cheat on a test, anything where you really want to say no but you think they’ll be upset if you do. I shared with him that it’s much, much harder to say no to someone you care about. I also shared with him that, by the ripe old age of 37, I’ve had my feelings hurt plenty of times and this wouldn’t have been the first. I shared that I’m a tough cookie and that he is stuck with me. He can hurt my feelings a million times and I’m still not going anywhere because I love him. And I shared with him that key point: if someone loves you, and really truly cares about you, they will stay and love you even if you say no.
Is there anything better than those every day conversations that turn into something so important? I don’t think so. I just hope he listened.