The clock strikes seven bells on a chilly lower mainland morning. It would be fine if the alarm was just now going off, but you’re not gently awakening in your warm and cozy bed.
You’re in an arena watching your child’s hockey practice, trying to concentrate on keeping your eyes open, pondering your responsibilities for the rest of the day.
Out on the ice, half the kids look like they’re doing the same thing.
I’ve spent my fair share of time in Metro Vancouver hockey arenas before the typical work day starts. Maybe it’s the dog days of winter creeping their icy fingers into our daily routines that’s prompting this nagging feeling, but for me there’s nothing more frustrating than seeing disinterested players going through the motions while the coach givin’ it the ol’ college try. I’m sure most parents have felt that twinge of frustration once or twice as they witness the slow degradation of effort, intensity, or downright passion.
And you know what? That’s ok.
Because you want your kid to make it to the NHL?
Just saying it out loud sounds positively bananas, doesn’t it?
“Passion for your work is a little bit of discovery, followed by a lot of development, and then a lifetime of deepening.”
That’s a quote from the pages of Grit, a book about determination and perseverance written by the enormously talented and intelligent Angela Duckworth. The keys to that passage are the words ‘little bit’, ‘followed by’, and ‘lifetime’.
In other words, for Duckworth, grit and development occur at a pace set by the individual. If we force our children to absorb information faster than they’re able as though they’re drinking water from a firehose, then we run the very real risk of overwhelming them and doing more damage than good.
In light of the question of grit, however, it’s important to ask yourself if you’re barking up the wrong tree. When passion wanes for a moment here and there, we absolutely ought to be encouraging our children to persevere, even giving them a completely figurative boot in the behind to re-engage them in an activity that’s important to them 90% of the time.
But there’s a tipping point. If repeating your mistakes is the definition of insanity, then the collective hockey parent community could probably pen the world’s greatest novel.
But it’s hard to come to grips with the possibility that your child might not be as enamoured with the game as his or her parent.
And that’s ok.
No, really, that’s ok. Maybe they just like playing the game. Maybe they aren’t all that interested in all the extra lessons and early mornings. Hey, we all need to suck it up to do something that will ultimately reward us, but maybe, just maybe, the priceless social skills and teambuilding experiences of the team are what really matters to your child.
You can be passionate about hockey and be passionate about other things too.
And if you can help your child figure that out at a relatively early age?
Then you’ll be doing them a gigantic favour that will last the rest of their lives.