Almost all kids like cookies but there is no cookie cutter way to handle kids.
I love people who think they are great parents. Usually, that means they have an introverted child or a child who is by nature a people pleaser. Those children fool you into believing you are great at parenting and often inspire people write blogs or teach Sunday School classes about how to parent based on their own great success in the field.
I thought I was a good parent for a while. Blake was a dream child. He was smart, kind, and helpful. None of those traits had anything to do with my parenting. But he was a great kid. Luckily, I never tried to take credit for any of it and show other parents the recipe to my secret parenting sauce.
"Get lucky" is kind of a short lesson plan.
When we adopted Dawit, it was almost the exact opposite. I learned a lot about parenting and myself. Dawit is a wild and crazy dude. He has a heart of gold, but his hands get dirty.
If something could be broken, he broke it. If it could be spilled, he spilled it. Heck, if it was flammable, he burned it.
None of that had anything to do with him being poorly parented in Ethiopia or here.
He is a doer. Blake is a thinker.
Blake studies things before he does them. Blake measures twice and cuts once.
Dawit is the guy who will dive in to see if the water is deep. He is fearless. Sometimes that is great. Other times, band aids are required.
I learned a lot about parenting my two boys with divergent personalities by coaching a baseball team for 10 years. That team was made up of every personality type. There were a few that if you raised your voice to them, they would hide under the bleachers. We had a couple who if you didn't yell at them, they didn't think you meant it.
Some needed to be pressured to perform. Others cracked under the pressure.
I just signed up to coach Dawit's soccer team again. I coached most of Blake's teams because he didn't love sports and I took the extra time with him to make it something he enjoyed. He did better on teams I coached than when he played for someone else because of that.
Dawit is one who does better under someone else, in the past. I always set high expectations for Blake and he always tried to exceed them. Even when he didn't, he saw the benefit of aiming high.
That method with Dawit leaves him feeling like he doesn't measure up to your expectations and it makes him feel like he let you down. Dawit is competitive but the game has to be fun to keep him engaged.
I'm excited because Blake is going to be my assistant coach this year. There is no one that can motivate Dawit like Blake. Since the first day they met in Addis Ababa, Dawit has loved having a big brother. He looks up to Blake more than I looked up to my big brother.
I competed with my big brother. He was the enemy. We had little plastic cups that served as trophies for our whiffle ball, ping pong and bumper pool championships.
My brother was four years older than me so he was almost always the champion. I always wanted to knock him down a peg.
Dawit wants to be like Blake. He plays card games and video games to be able to play with Blake. He wants Blake to play basketball and soccer with him to have fun, not to vanquish him.
I can't wait to coach with Blake and see how he handles a group of kids and what he can learn about people through the process.
Coaching isn't easy but it can be very fun. Parenting is hard but nothing is more rewarding.
Both teach you as much about yourself as the kids.