My dad always warned me.
"When you've got a family, you can rarely ever get everybody on the same page," Dad would say. "It's amazing. We've got a bunch of people who share the same blood, but every one of them has a different personality."
To be honest, that used to frustrate Dad at times. It's tough, after all, for Dad to enjoy a family game of golf when Mom wants to go shopping, little brother would rather work on his rock collection and big sister just wants to hang out around the pool with her friends.
And different personalities also come into play when coaching your kids.
I'm behind the bench this season with a pair of Toronto teams that include my two sons; nine-year-old Max of the East York Atom Avalanche and seven-year-old Theo, who is part of the East York Minor Novice Wild.
Max is really easy to coach. He's not as serious about sports as his little bro and, as a result, not as sensitive when it comes to constructive criticism. Max, for instance, sometimes has a habit of passing the puck in front of his own net and while I try to be patient, I do pop the odd cork when the biscuit slides dangerously close to our basket.
"Max!," I often find myself screaming, "Not in front of our net!"
“Okay, Dad!," he inevitably replies as he skates back to the bench.
Little Theo, on the other hand, is a little more volatile when it comes to receiving instructions from dear ol' Dad. Earlier this season Theo had a bad shift during a game, something I pointed out when he returned to the bench.
"Buddy!" I said, "You've got to more aggressive out there."
"I was, Dad!, "Theo screamed at me… proving his aggressiveness by proceeding to punch me in the belly.
Max happened to be sitting near our bench when Theo delivered a powerful little right hand to my solar plexus—something big brother thought was hilarious and never fails to remind both of us about. And it was another reminder to yours truly, albeit a painful one, that you need a different set of kid gloves to deal with your kids' different personalities.
Theo is definitely making strides as the year goes on, but I'll probably always need a softer touch with him when imparting my words of hockey wisdom.
He still sometimes passes the puck in front of our net and he still shouts “Okay, Dad!" whenever I loudly point it out.
Come to think of it, maybe Max has the best philosophy of all.
Make the old man happy by pretending to listen to what he has to say… and then have a good time doing it your own way!
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