As I listen to my children bicker and fight over a kickball game in our basement, I am frustrated by the unkind words they use and the mean way they pick apart one another’s attempts to kick, run, and throw. It hurts me to hear them use such forceful language when it’s supposed to be a fun game.
What I have to remind myself is that their play is a way to learn the basics of the game, how to handle conflict, and ways to work with others while being competitive. Those viscous kickball games are growing opportunities for turning thrown stones into bridges for better play and successful communication in the future. (That doesn’t make their taunting any easier to hear though.)
Unfortunately, my kiddos’ emotional “rock collecting” has not been limited to the jabs and insults of their siblings. My children (like all kids) have come home with hurt in their eyes and frustration in their hearts from things said and done at school and sports practices. Seeing my kids hurt by the words and actions of others is probably the hardest part of being a parent. These challenges have forced me to dig deep into my repertoire of comfort and advice, but also add to the School of Hard Knocks’ curriculum as my children earn their diplomas in adolescence.