On a particularly sticky, Florida summer day, I watched as my son, then 8 years old, glided on his scooter up and down the ramps of the skate park. Occasionally he’d stop and observe the other kids sail across the pavement, flipping the base of their scooters around as they ascended higher than the confines of the park’s ramps.
My son, watching one boy in particular, asked me to find out how he was able to kick off the steepest ramps with such ease. My son wanted to do the same, but he was scared.
“I think you should ask him,” I said. My son, whose fear of asking and being rejected was stronger than his yearning to scale the tallest ramp at the skatepark, scoffed, folded his arms and stomped away. He circled the other child on his scooter, watching and calculating. Then he came back and pleaded with me to ask the other boy to help him. I said no and maintained that he should be asking if he was the one who wanted the help. He stayed angry with me, scowling in my direction from time to time.