|Written by Jeanne Martin
Q: Despite his great enthusiasm, my nine year old is the worst player on his little league baseball team. Should I just shrug and cheer him on, or suggest he try a new sport?
A: There are a few key questions you need to ask yourself here: One: Is it more than an awkward faze—does he TRULY stink at the sport? Two: Do you hate baseball more than cold-sore flare ups and mimes? Three: Do you have to drive through five o’clock traffic to get him to practice?
If you have answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, then branching out a little into, say, tumbling or Mandarin Chinese, may be warranted. But if he really loves it and you’re not stuck hanging out with a bunch of fanny-pack-sporting moms, then suck it up, sister. We all can’t be good at sports. Heaven knows I look like an idiot on the treadmill, but there I am, day after day, blithely running on that evil contraption looking like I got there on the short bus.
Also, at the age of nine, most boys are either entering their gangly, all-arms-and-legs faze or are chunking up prior to their overnight, massive growth spurt. (The spurt typically hits the day before Easter when he needs to wear his one pair of dressy pants that are now three inches too short and make him look like Rodney Dangerfield.)
What a boy his age needs is to be out there. It doesn’t really matter what he’s doing or if he is doing it well, just that he is doing it and enjoying it. This is the age when they start pulling out of stuff, deciding between what they really like and what dad wants them to like. If he’s into it, keep at it. He’ll either get better or start stinking it up so bad that he’s getting ribbed about it or is embarrassed. Until then, pack your lawn chair and camouflage your wine-cooler, mom, cause your going to the ballpark. And lastly, if we have learned nothing else from Richard Simmons (which is a pretty safe bet), it is that enthusiasm, not talent, skill or taste, can take you very far indeed.
Q: My three-year-old son shows no interest in potty training. Help!
A: This must be your first son because once you have shared a bathroom with any BOY you would not be looking to invite more of them in. Grown men, adolescent boys, preschool boys: their one universal characteristic is that they are just grodey when it comes to the bathroom.
I don’t know if it is a trajectory issue or if they have absolutely no olfactory glands, but I’m telling you, I have never met a member of the opposite sex who wasn’t just revolting when it comes to all things “potty.” I’m just letting you know now what you’re getting yourself into, girlfriend; I’m not trying to be a hater. Stock up on Clorox and if you have the means, hire a maid service the moment the training begins.
I’m going to assume that this boils down to a “I gotta get him into preschool” issue more than a “I can’t wait to have my bathroom smelling like a truck stop” issue. It’s crucial that your motivation translates into his motivation and commitment is the key. Throw out the diapers and let the magic happen. When he has an accident, completely ignore it; but when he makes it to the potty, have a potty party and make a HUGE deal out of it … music, confetti, an appearance by the Jolie-Pitts … whatever it takes to let him know that THIS is the way to the cookie jar.
You may want to go get some little toys and treats and give him one each time he makes it. Once he starts doing it consistently, start lengthening the time between prizes. He’ll get it (we all do) but if he slips up a bit, do not go back to the diapers. Just stick it out. BUT, and this is an important but, if he gets the hang of it, yet cannot make it overnight, let him wear a pull-up to sleep in. This part may take longer and have more to do with his physiology than his will. So save the hooplah and party favors for his daytime success. And consider a reward system for your husband, too, to encourage better aim.