Publishers Note A Child’s Choices

By Jay D. Prince

Eleven years ago. I sat down to write a proposal for the then USSRA in hopes of starting a new publication for squash in the United States. At the time, I was nearly two years into life as a full-time dad, having opted to stay home after putting a magazine for the sport of junior tennis out of its misery and with my wife in the throes of pursuing her Ph.D. in molecular biology.

To this day, I remember sitting at my desk at home with my youngster sleeping soundly in his car seat at my feet, with my foot gently rocking the seat back and forth to buy myself a little more time to write before he woke from his nap. If I recall correctly, it took several of those naps for me to put the finishing touches on my proposal. Interestingly enough, I had never really thought about whether or not my son would get into squash someday. I was too busy wondering when we’d be done with diapers and sleep-interrupted nights.

Today, we are about to jump into our second decade of producing Squash Magazine, and my son is 12-years-old—and he’s beginning to take a liking to squash. How cool is that? His sporting passion is with soccer and baseball, but the fact that he now asks me to take him to the club for a hit is a lot of fun. And he’s hitting the ball pretty well.

When we first started playing together, I was required to play with my left hand. Now I move him around the court with my right hand just to make the points last a bit longer so that he can continue to get the hang of this great game.

I’m sure many of you have had similar experiences with your own children. I have no idea whether or not my child will become a good squash player, let alone a great one. We have always approached our kids with the idea that whatever they are interested in trying, we will feed that spark until they say it’s time to go a different direction.

Now that school is finally out for summer in the Seattle area—nearly 10 days later than usual after all of the crazy weather we had last winter—I’ve been spending time with my son in yet another way I hadn’t considered before. He has been working in my office for the past week! Phew, time sure flies. From diapers to just-below-minimum-wage employee for a week. Hard to believe.

We managed to put my son to good use catching up on filing paperwork, organizing the office after a chaotic nine months of hammering out issue after issue, and he has been helping us update our database to something more user-friendly. Again, how cool is that?

After completing the tasks my Director of Operations and I threw at him, my son decided he’d be up for helping to proof-read this edition of Squash Magazine. What the heck. The more eyes the better. So with a green pen and a comfortable chair, off he went to search for mistakes before we sent this issue to the presses.

After about an hour of sitting at my own desk putting the finishing touches on a couple of articles, my budding scribe walked into my office and said, “Dad, isn’t there something else I can work on?” All I could do was smile, laugh a little bit, and say, “What, giving up on editing already?” My son’s reply? “Let’s just say that I don’t think I’ll be looking for a job like yours when I’m ready to go out into the world.” Bummer. I mean he did find a few things worth changing to make a couple articles flow more fluidly.

Honestly, the smile that came across my face had more to do with being proud of my child for being honest with me about something he wasn’t really enjoying. Who knows, he might come around someday, but I have no interest whatsoever in pushing him toward something his heart isn’t into. I feel the same way about the sports and other activities he tries. In my mind, there’s nothing more cruel that we can do to our children than to insist that they do something just because we want them to. Sure, sometimes we have to push a bit when it comes to school and the like, but shouldn’t our kids be playing squash and pursuing careers because they want to for themselves? Absolutely.