My stubborn sophomore basically planted himself in front of his PS4 most weekends during ninth grade. He didn’t attend any football games, plays, concerts or any events other than soccer games and track meets because he was on the team. It’s a transition year, everyone kept telling me. He’ll come around, they said.
So, most weekends he would hang out at home, usually playing video games by himself or with his older brother. As I watched his tenth-grade social life go down the same path, I put my foot down. It was Homecoming weekend, packed with a Friday football game and a Saturday dance. Getting him to attend the dance would be a harder sell, so I focused on the football game. True to form, he refused to go.
Now, there are worse problems than having your teenager want to stay home on a Friday night. I get it. But I wanted him to be a bigger part of the school community, so I drew a line in the turf. My usual ploy of appealing to his logic was an epic fail: “It will be the best game of the year!” “You can leave at half-time if you’re not having fun.” And what I thought would hit pay dirt: “I’ll give you money for candy and soda.”
Getting nowhere fast with this kid.
Finally, I tried another tactic: “Okay, you don’t have to go to the football game, but if you stay home, you can’t play video games.”
Well, that was the shot heard ’round his teenage world. Holy moly, did this send him into a tailspin.
“Are you kidding me?” he shouted. “That’s so not fair! Why are you punishing me? No one I know goes to the football games.” On and on he ranted.
My husband, Kevin, and I tried to reason with him (again), but this only made him dig his heels in deeper. That is, until Kevin’s cell phone rang. It was his friend Todd, whose son Brandon is one of my son’s best friends.
“Oh, Brandon’s already at the football game?” Kevin asked loudly so my son could overhear. After getting a few more details, Kevin hung up. We decided to press the issue one more time. We wanted our son to do more than just go to school. We wanted him to get involved. So we pushed a little more.
“Fine, I’ll go,” my son relented as he ran upstairs to change his clothes.
Within five minutes, he was out the door, in the car, and on the way to his first high school football game. Three hours later when we picked him up, he was all smiles as he gave us a quick recap of the night.
We could have just let the issue slide, allowing our son to stay in his comfort zone. But we knew he needed a push, even if it was to get out and have some fun.