I am sitting in the family room with my son as we watch our favorite hockey team play a game. It’s delightful to be here… but we shouldn’t be.
This is a Squash Night. Youngest son played on his middle school squash team for several years and absolutely loved it. Unfortunately only a few high schools in our area have a squash team, but there is a great community program at Princeton University and they have a high school level program. So we signed him up. This program doesn’t have as much court time as son was used to (he used to play Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays). Now he plays Tuesday and Thursday evenings from 8:45 to 9:45, and Sunday afternoons. There were two obstacles for us: 1) the weeknight time was really late! and 2) three times a week, spread out like that, was not enough court time to feel like one was improving.
And then son himself continually faced another obstacle: his level of ability was right smack in the middle of the group: he was by far the strongest of the weaker players and by far the weakest of the stronger players. So he got moved around a lot, and went from not being challenged at all to having the pants beaten off him. Each week he would either come off the court barely ruffled and not breathing hard or completely soaked with sweat and panting. He didn’t particularly enjoy either time. And to be honest, I didn’t particularly enjoy being out that late in the cold winter. While Princeton has a lovely facility, it is located really far away from the parking lot. I felt like I got a workout just walking in there (usually in cold, windy weather); being so late at night– and a 20 minute drive from home — I couldn’t go home or shop, and had no intention of sitting in the car for over an hour, so would take my book to the courts three floors below ground.
Needless to say, son and I have both been counting down the weeks till the program ended. It seemed like were never going to get there — turns out Princeton would not allow the program to be in the building any night there was a university basketball game, and this year there were several conflict dates. Any time that happened, the program just added another day on to the end of the season. As of now, the season, which started the last week of October, goes until mid-March (was supposed to end about now).
It has been getting more and more agonizing for both of us to drag ourselves to squash. High school golf team practice begins Monday, so we agreed he would be done with the program then. The effect of THAT was to make the past few sessions of squash even less desirable. The weather was horrible Tuesday night (cold, pelting rain) and we were both tired. So we skipped it. Tonight the game-plan was he would go for the last time and say thank you to the coaches. Son cornered me after dinner and pleaded to be finished with squash. He said he felt like it was a failed experiment and just wanted to be done. I really pushed him to go; and he pushed back to stay home.
Hence my quandary as noted in the title. Son doesn’t push himself that hard, so I feel obligated to do so for him when he makes commitments. On the other hand, he is now sound asleep on the couch, so maybe that was the right decision. I really do believe in honoring commitments and in the value of lessons learned from pushing oneself. But… this year didn’t feel right. So how hard do I push? Not to mention that he’s finding high school really hard (darn homework and tests!).
Anyone who knows me well knows I always say: follow your instincts. But I’ve had a hard time determining what my instincts are telling me. I think that’s why there has been so much waffling back and forth; “you must go!” “Oh, ok, let’s stay home…” It’s obvious this hasn’t been a success and I think we can finally put it to bed. As a concession to me, son wrote a very nice thank-you email to the coaches. It’s not quite as good as doing it in person, but I think that was respectable.
For next year he has already decided that he’s going to find a faculty member to sponsor a squash club at school and if all goes well, it might develop into a full-fledged team. He’s even found a place to rent court space. So maybe he will be OK with commitments as an adult….
Now I have to wake him up and send him to bed. A mother’s work is never done. Sigh.