If you spend any time talking with other fathers, you can expect to hear the same concerns and irritations about the kids. They’re disorganized, late, unmindful of the time. The difficulty is that most of us forget what it’s like to have been kids but if you think about it, you’ll find that you probably weren’t that much different in those regards. And if you think about it further, you’ll sometimes run across ways to help your kid so that the irritating moments are fewer. It was the situation that another father – who I’ll call Bill – considered and came across a simple answer for his son’s situation.
Bill is the father of Jacob, a rising second grader playing for a little league team that’s composed of many older boys. He’s on the lowest cusp of the age grouping for that level but his level of play is such that he’d be wasting his time at the lower level of coach-pitch baseball. When those situations occur, you expect that the younger player will struggle a bit as he (or she) plays up to the level of boys who might be three years older. But Jacob is truly a gifted, gritty little guy whose play typically matched that of even the oldest boys. When I first saw Jacob at practice, I was surprised by his skill level both with the glove as well as the bat. As the boys were messing around at the end-of-season team picnic, Bill and I chatted and the topic turned to the pre-game household rituals, especially in regards to trying to get out of the door on time. Bill’s expectations were simple and he understood that laundry meant that the clothing was sometimes out of the boy’s control, but he did expect that the boy would know where his hat was. It seems a little thing, but many young boys frequently can’t find their own heads. After several instances of not knowing the hat’s location – and it is a nice hat with a stitched league logo, by the way – Bill settled on the uniform hook.
The uniform hook is a standard metal coat hook that can be mounted on a wall. There are two protruding hooks attached to the same base, the upper hook being larger and extending farther than the smaller lower hook. Bill mounted one of these hooks in the bedroom with simple instructions: your uniform and hat stay on the hook. We won’t fold the clean uniform and put it in the drawer with the other clothes, we’ll just hang it on the hook. And you will keep your hat on the hook, ready for when you have to go play ball. Yeah, there’s now a hook with clothing mounted on the wall but I think that that’s acceptable given all of the other nonsense that’s in a boy’s room.
It’s a simple and effective solution that keeps things easy for the kids and the parents. Dad doesn’t have to go upstairs to find the game shirt that’s in the drawer where it belongs. Junior knows that he’s got a special spot for something that he probably prizes and that even serves as a visual reminder of something that he loves. And the only words that usually have to be spoken are a reminder upon return from the game to put the hat on the hook.
Kids want to please their parents if given the chance and they especially want to show how they’re progressing as they grow. Sometimes it only takes a little thought to come up with a workable plan to minimize the angst and help the child show what he can do.