Thursday, May 31, 2007

Best Stepfather in the World

Today, The Husband reminded me of why I am so incredibly lucky to have him, not only as a husband but as co-parent of my child. F sent him a quite haughty email:

As you know it is very hard for me to work out my dream teams' passwords because I have two.


I'm afraid I was terribly amused and proud of his seven-year-old writing ability. However, The Husband took the more appropriate and useful parental response and chastened him for his attitude. In the nicest way.

I mean in THE NICEST WAY, too. In fact, he sent a two-page inspirational email on learning to handle annoyance at not getting things right or needing help, using a football analogy throughout, along with a charming illustrative anecdote about Chris Judd's brother.

I am so incredibly impressed by this damned fine example of (step) parenting that here is his response:

I didn't actually know that it is very hard for you to work out your
dream teams' passwords because of the fact you have two. Maybe next time you can use the same password, then you only have to remember one.

Shouting at me, all be it via email, is not appropriate. If you want my help you know all you have to do is ask nicely rather than demand that I tell you.

When you can't work something out or you get frustrated remember that getting cross isn't going to help. All that does is make you feel awful and unhappy and it doesn't solve the problem. Take a few deep breaths and ask yourself "Now, how can I solve this?" and if you don't think you can solve it yourself ask someone else, politely of course.

The rewarding thing about finding things that you can't do or work out is learning how to do them. Because once you've learnt how to do them it's an extra thing you can do. Sometimes it's challenging, but you feel really good once you have learnt how to do it. Remember when you hated to kick the footy because you didn't know how? Well, maybe you don't remember, but you used to hate it and never wanted to go outside and kick it. Now look at you you love it, you can't stop kicking it, it's all about footy for you. And it feels really good when you do a good kick, doesn't it? When you kick it straight to someone or kick a goal it's the best feeling.

When you are having difficulty with something, on the computer or playing sport or doing schoolwork, just remember that great feeling you get when you can do it. Focus on that and remember that you will feel that way if you try and work it out rather than getting angry. Even thinking about how good you feel when you accomplish something can make you feel good. Sometimes it's tough, but often the toughest challenges, the hardest things to do, give you the greatest reward and make you feel the best.

Remember this also, you have a lot of people around you who love you and are there to help you and always want the best for you. You should see all those people as people you can learn from so you can be the best you can be. Look at your Dad and Mum and Stepmother and me, we've been around for a while, and we've had to go through all the things you are going through and will go through. All we want to do is help you and make it easier for you. When we show you how to handball, or write, or draw, or ride a bike we're just trying to help you out and help you improve in these things and make it easier for you.

You know people like Chris Judd and Daniel Kerr and Mark Seaby and Andrew Embley and Chad Fletcher and David Wirrpunda and Jason Akermanis and Aaron Davey and Michael Jordan and heaps of other people all became the best footballers and best basketballers and the best at what they do because they would watch what other people did, ask them for advice and listen to the advice that was given to them. They
realised that to be the best, the key was to get help and advice from others and not think that your way is the best way and the only way.

And here is the best bit, the story of Chris Judd's little-known brother:

Chris Judd has a brother who's not much older than him. He played football with Chris when they were growing up together and he used to always act like and say he could do everything. When his Dad tried to show him how to handball, he would say, "That might be your way but I do it like this" or when his Dad tried to show him how to tackle he said, "I know, I know" and not listen. Chris's brother didn't want to show anybody that he couldn't do something, he was a little embarrassed, so he would just make up how to do things on his own. Chris on the other hand listened to his father, his coach, the next-door neighbour, his friends and would practice what he was taught.

Chris's brother struggled through junior football, he really wanted to be good at footy, but he couldn't bring himself to take the advice or ask the advice of his Dad and coach and other people, because he didn't want to look like he didn't know how to do something. Meanwhile, Chris got really, really good. He would train and practice everyday, listen to the advice his coach and Dad and others gave him
and admitted that he didn't know how to do something, because then he knew that someone would show him how to do it and he would be even better.

Now you haven't heard of Chris Judd's brother* have you? That's because he didn't make it to the AFL or any football league for that matter. He still doesn't listen to anyone or even see his family and does his own thing. He lives by himself in a small apartment in Perth and has no friends, no job and no family. He's always angry and miserable.

As you know, Chris Judd went on to play in the AFL, the best football league in the world, and was officially named the best player in that league a couple of years ago. He went on to win the 2006 premiership and became captain of his side. He even said when he won the Brownlow medal and the premiership, that he couldn't have done it without the help of a lot of people. People still reckon he is the best player in
the league, and you know what, he still trains and practices and listens to his coach and his Dad and others everyday to make sure he stays the best!

Love you lots

The Husband

I read it aloud to F. He looked at me with wide eyes during several sections, and looked pleased during others. Especially when I read about how good Chris Judd is.

'Wow' he said when I'd finished. 'If I keep going the way I am, I'll end up like Chris Judd's brother, won't I?'

*** I don't think the story about Chris Judd's brother is anything but an allegory, of course. Though I am so clueless about footy that it may well be.


Rosanna said...

This is just divine. What a lovely father! And I loved his story about Chris Judd's brother - very original (or not if that's the case, but very clever all the same).

Also, I think I commented on a previous post. And now it's gone. So either blogger hates me. Or my computer hates me.


ThirdCat said...

blogger hates us's nothing personal

Eleanor Bloom said...

I'm about ready to take up footy now!

I didn't receive much advice from my parents so I think his message is rather lovely. There's no way my dad would ever have done that!

genevieve said...

Lovely story, lovely instruction. SF's emphasis on effort is in line with the best teaching practice, too - though I might have left out the dire warning about Judd senior myself, but that's because I was overexposed to severe warnings from several quarters. Gorgeous.

redcap said...

I have to say that Chris Judd's brother interests me roughly as much as Chris Judd. Id est, not at all. But I am extremely impressed by your seven-year-old's ability to use apostrophes correctly. Most adults I know aren't capable of doing that.

Ariel said...

I have found out that the story about Judd's less famous brother was entirely fictional, as suspected. So yes, very original.

Blogger DOES hate us all.

I loved the time and thought that went into the email, and the fact that he cares that much about my son. It's so nice when the two people you love most feel like that about each other - esp. when it's not biological, therefore not compulsory.

There you go RC, you had my initial reaction. My mum teaches Year 12 English and I therefore know that many of her students couldn't use an apostrophe correctly to save their lives.