Today I had the day off and took my son and his friend to do some ten pin bowling.
Whilst they played their game I read a book and just watched what was going on.
Years ago, in the 1970’s, bowling was really popular. My older sister was right into it. She had her own shoes, ball and bag. She would go bowling a couple of nights a week and often got little badges that boasted her strike rate success.
I then started to think how my older sister was also into “things”. In fact, all my siblings were very busy with being part of clubs or groups.
The older sister. Well, she like horse riding, cooking, played piano, did some Girl Guides for a while. My father would always make comparisons between her and I. He would use her as a shining example of what a good daughter should be. However, she became pregnant at almost fifteen and then became a shining example of what a good daughter should NOT be.
My younger brother joined the Scout group and I think that took up a lot of his time. As did my younger sister. She was very sociable and always willing to be a part of things.
I know I was extremely resistant to any effort made to socialise me. Not just socialising, but basic parent pleasing. I recall that I had a bit of a silently rebellious demeanour and was very unwilling to do anything to please my parents, in particular my father. What was the point? He would still be a foul tempered parent irrespective of whatever I did or did not do.
When I had my son, I was determined to introduce him to a sociable life by being part of a Mother’s group that would meet up weekly. In fact, we used to go to two groups each week. It was hard for me as I had PND, was quite shy and often did not want to go but felt that I had no right to impose my anti social ways onto my son. It was a good thing to do anyway, as we made good friends and I even became Godmother to two sisters later on.
It was important to me that my son was confident with himself in a variety of situations. I would take him to cafes where he would order his own food and drink. I would encourage him to ask for help to find things in stores. Showed him how to answer the telephone. Just little things like that. Help build his confidence.
Today, when I was sitting and watching them bowl, an employee came up to me to talk about a programme they have where over a ten week period they will show children how to bowl, play competition games and things like that. I thought it was great as my son has no such commitments in his life. Whereas most of his friends play football, cricket, soccer or go to language school, my son does none of that. Once, when I suggested that we enrol him into Chess Club on Saturdays he said to me that he did not want to commit himself to anything on a Saturday because he did not like the idea of waking up and having that hanging over his head.
So, I brought up the prospect of joining this bowling group with him. His reaction was one of hostility and fucked offedness (is that a word, it should be) and his face fell halfway to the ground. To top it off, the woman came over and chatted to him about it and he politely declined. The more she tried to encourage him, the more his body language became that of a block of concrete. In the end she left him alone.
Shortly after I said to him that I was only suggesting the positive part of it. Thought it might be a good social thing to do, learn the craft of the game and get really good at it etc.
To which he replied:
“I am my own person. If I want to make friends I will do it in my own good time. I am not interested in winning at bowling, I just want to have a good time. I don’t like group things. I just like doing my own thing, being who I am and choosing my own friends.”
“Right, okay. Well, eventually you will have to be part of groups, you cannot always be on your own. It is important that you have social skills in life,” I explained.
“Well, when the time comes, I will do what I have to do. Until then, I just want to do what I feel good about. No joining groups or anything else like that,” he replied.
I am not sure if I thought his response was good or bad. He reminded me of myself. His resistance was bordering on rebellious. Then I realised that there was absolutely no sense in taking the conversation any further. His heels were dug in.
Funny how certain traits are passed down, but the environment in which they develop can make them either flourish or fail. He is confident with his social ways, whereas I know I was not.
So a child who is super active can be considered annoying in one family and refreshing in another. Just as a quiet child is called shy in one family and reserved in another.
It should not be nurture versus nature.
It should be nurture the nature.
I think you get better results.