The Thumb Sucker





I look out my window into the back yard and see the tire swing and it reminds me…

My son stood at the end of the aisle and waited for his bride.  She would  be escorted by her father, who was having a difficult day.  I sympathized with him.   I had to give my daughter away to another young man waiting for her at the end of another aisle about six months ago.

As I stood there looking at my thumb-sucking-son-turned- young man,  waiting for his bride, and hoping my lovely wife would pick an emotion and stick with it for at least the next few minutes,  I thought about that tire swing in the back yard.

No, this is not a sappy story about me pushing my little son in the tire swing as the sun sets over the hill and having all those memories come roaring back.

That tire swing reminds me of all the selfish times raising my son when I wanted something for him that he  didn’t necessarily want.  You see, that tire swing was for pushing and swinging…just not the way you see in all those arthritis medicine ads.  It was for a batting drill or exercise that would make him into a major league hitter or at the very least a college recruit.   I had read an article about a very good major league baseball player whose father put up a tire swing in the back yard and had him swing his bat into that tire swing over and over and over.  It supposedly helped him develop a more powerful hitting stroke.

My son tried it one time, after much pleading I might add.  He handed me the bat after a few swings and said ,”Yeah this is great dad”.  I never saw him near that tire swing again.

I would like to say that tire swing was the only foray into my self-coaching/fantasy of Tiger-izing my son.  I have used gadgets and drills and exercises on my son in various sports that I’m sure would have been the next parenting self-help guarantee for the success of a child into the world of big time sports.  Only one thing was missing…a child that wanted to do the various drills, exercises, and gadgets.  Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed spending each of these moments with my son and daughter, who also was pushed by me to learn the ABC’s (Anything But Cheerleading).

I always felt as a parent, it was my job to expose both my son and daughter to things that would benefit them.  I exposed them to sports, music, arts, travel, and even stocks.  Now I am by no means an expert in any of these areas.  Sometimes my mistake was pushing them too hard.  I did learn however that there comes a time when the pushing needs to stop.  Usually it was when there came resistance.

Sports should always be enjoyable.  Music should always be enjoyable.  I realized  if my son or daughter loved something enough to want to continue to get better, they did not need me pushing them.  They needed me to encourage them or just simply give them a time to rest or a distraction.  Sometimes we parents put too much pressure on our kids to do something with their lives that we want and not necessarily what they want.

I even came to grips with my daughter being a cheerleader and even came to embrace the benefits of young girls performing as a team in front of a crowd.   However I never came to grips with the uniforms.

My son loved to participate in sports and he enjoyed playing many different sports and still does, but he found things in life that were more important to him.  And for that I am thankful and proud of him.

This is a picture of my son when he was about twenty-months old.  He sucked his thumb for comfort and it helped him deal with things that small children have to deal with.  I always loved this picture of him.

Two weekends ago, my son got married.  He married a loving, bright, beautiful young lady that is full of life.  She will be a wonderful wife and I am glad she is now a part of my life.

I am leaving the tire swing up…I can push the grandchildren in it when they come to visit, provided my arthritis is not acting up.

If  you like this photo, you can see more of my pictures here.