My youngest son, Joel, suffers from overconfidence and a lack of healthy caution, which has resulted in him being more banged up and bruised in four years than his brother and sister have been in their combined 16 years. For this reason, I often don’t play along with him when he makes statements like, “you and I are strong aren’t we Dad. You can lift those barbells and so can I.” In fact, I often correct him with responses like, “Actually Joel, I am stronger than you are, and you have to be careful and not try to do everything you see me doing.” When I respond like this, I feel kind of bad, because I want to affirm him and build up a healthy sense of self worth, but given his propensities, I don’t want to further encourage his lack of healthy limitations.
An example of Joel’s overconfidence-lack-of-caution disorder can be seen in an incident that happened just a couple of days ago. While Paula was baking some cookies, she pulled some fresh ones out of the oven, and Joel walked right up and touched his chin to the hot cookie sheet. We are now hoping that the burn mark on his chin will not become a scar. Another example happened today. Paula and I were in the kitchen preparing dinner where we could hear Joel playing around in the family room. Suddenly, we heard a thump, a small crash, and then Joel very matter-of-factly stating, “No blood.”
Last night Paula and I had a conversation about Joel’s rough and tumble existence. I had just finished a brief exchange with Joel, where once again I told him that he and I are not equal, but that one day he would grow up and probably exceed me in many ways. Feeling kind of bad for once again curbing his enthusiasm, I stated to Paula, “I hate to respond to him like that, but I feel that I need to school him in reality, or reality is going to school him pretty hard.”, to which Paula responded, “It’s too late, he’s already enrolled in the School of Hardknocks.”