Tuesday was another interesting day here.
Last week I heard that a local youth group had spaces - L has been asking me to help him find new ways to meet people, so I asked him if he fancied it.
He did, so I asked if he could fill the space. The youth worker confirmed the details, and he was all set to join them this Tuesday for Kayaking.
But then the worries set in. Being a big brother L has not been many places on his own - usually either his father or I are there, or his younger brothers, or more recently other people he already knows. This was a first for him - a new group with no one he knew, no ice breakers or brothers to be with, just him.
For the whole week we had grumblings. On Thursday L managed to get a friction burn / graze on his forearm which was pretty bad and was weeping a lot. He felt that was a good reason not to go. We gave it time, and by Tuesday whilst it hadn't healed completely it was coverable and much smaller. He still wasn't happy though. We had some pretty deep discussions, and "unpacked" his insecurities a bit.
It was actually refreshing to be able to discuss it rationally with him - L is level headed and calm about a lot of things. I tried to deal with things by running through why I felt this was a good thing, and why at 14 1/2 he was ready to branch out a bit. He was still not happy about going, so I listened and empathised, without agreeing to him not going. I had to push him fairly hard, and he outright told me he wasn't going, he thought I was bullying him, he felt I was being controlling.
We set out together to the place the group was going to pick him up from, and he was resigned and grumpy. He went though.
When I got a call from him later to go and meet him at the same spot he was happy. He'd had fun, felt able to mix with the others, chatted to one of the youth workers about dyslexia, and met another home educated lad. He'd also found he wasn't bad at kayaking :)
Chatting later, he was glad I pushed him to go, but hated that I had at the same time. He's looking forward to next Tuesday, and I think we have a success :)
At the same time M bought home a task from Scouts last Tuesday - find a famous historical figure from our town, learn about them and present the information to the group this week. I had reminded him three times in the intervening week that he needed to do the leg work, but unsurprisingly we found ourselves with two hours to go before he had to go out manically trying to pull the info together.
Should I have pushed him earlier? Perhaps. But he resisted every reminder and suggestion that we do it together. He needed to feel it was urgent before he was ready to begin. Should I then have just left it? I don't think so because he would have been miserable if he hadn't done it, and the piece of writing he produced was pretty good.
There are lots of people who advocate being totally child-led, in both the above cases that would have meant I just left the boys to it, L wouldn't have broadened his horizons, and M would have felt stressed that he wouldn't get the badge. I don't think either of those would have been ideal, so encouraging them was the better choice.
It's a fine line to walk, but I think that sometimes supporting these kids means pushing them to step beyond the comfortable.