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For the past few months my 14-year-old son Sai has repeatedly mentioned that he wants to start working out. His freshman P.E. class is obviously not satisfying him even though he has been introduced to so much new information about health that I am starting to learn from him.
I was delighted when he called to tell me that he had signed up for an after-school conditioning class that will teach him more about weight training. I listened as he described the exercises and how hard everything was because he was new.
After a week or so I was accustomed to his daily updates about working out and looked forward to hearing them. One day he casually mentioned, "I think they are going to give us all permission forms for football tomorrow."
My left eyebrow raised automatically as I tried to decipher what he meant by that.
"Are you saying that you are signing up to play football?"
I opened my mouth to remind him of all the things we discussed last year. There are children who have died while playing football. The sport is barbaric and unnecessary. The chances of making it a full-time career are slim. He knew all of those things. We had gone through this before and he still wants to play football. Why?
Instead of a lecture I asked him, "Does your Daddy know?"
"Yes, Ma'am," he replied. "He cares. Every day he asks me how practice went."
I fell silent. Is he being openly disobedient? Is he completely ignoring my warnings? Is he trying to say my opinion does not count?
As usual I tried to relate to him, asking myself what would I do if I wanted to participate in an activity that my mom was against. My answer was simple: I would do it anyway.
I decided that it is a good thing that he defied me. It's a good thing that he believes he is capable of making a decision for himself.
I have always been like that. In fact, I rarely asked for permission for anything because I did not like hearing the word, "No." If I had listened to my mother every time she warned me about doing things I wanted to do, I would never have gone to college. I would never have moved away to a new city all alone. I would never have created my most awesome inspirational project to date. I would not have done a lot of things that have become the cornerstones of the pride I now have for my life.
Maybe he is more like me than I once thought. Maybe he feels passionate about learning a new sport, getting in shape and making new friends along the way. In fact, he hasn't made any new friends in high school yet, choosing instead to play the shy role and focus on his academics. Maybe this will be good for him.
I decided that it is a good thing that he defied me. It's a good thing that he believes he is capable of making a decision for himself. It is a good thing that he has the confidence to go for what he wants even when people (namely me) only expect the worse.
My son disobeyed me so that he could have an experience he has been yearning for.