Sunday, October 3, 2010
It's truly amazing how a shift in perspective can change your outlook on the moment. My son loves watching sports on TV. He loves engaging me in conversation about what he watches. This is really not my cup of tea. On the other hand, it is my son and what he gets excited about interests me.
From a young age he has not only wanted to watch football on TV but also play football. This to me was disturbing. When he was 8 and 9 years old he would ask that question knowing what my answer would be. I thought he was just to young and my husband didn't push the issue. It just wasn't a big deal. He did other things though.
He tried his hand at soccer, gymnastics, tennis, soccer, among other things. Yes, I mentioned soccer twice because he played when he was little then took some time off to pursue other activities. Later when he was 10 he returned to it. By the time he was 12 he encountered a coach with a loosing team. The coach himself was down about it and I believe because of this let the team down. By the end of that last season, I don't think there was a kid on the team that wanted to be there. During the game I would look over at the coach and there he was distanced from the team with his head in his hands. What kind of a message does that send?
When the spring soccer season came to a close my son was glad and promised not to play soccer again. That's when he started tip toeing around the idea of playing football. By this time he was one of the bigger kids. He was tall for his age and of medium build. This time I said,"Okay." I knew I had to give him that chance. He did need a change.
Conditioning for football season began in July and the first game was at the end of August. That week of training was rough on him but he hung in there. Practices began the next week. He had practice 3 days a week. Two of those practices were in full pads and helmet. It was crazy hot. He didn't complain though. He didn't complain until he realized that maybe this football thing isn't all that it's cracked up to be.
One of the drills involved two players lying helmet to helmet on the ground with their knees bent. The coach would yell,"One, two, three go!" At that point the two players would jump up and run toward each other full force. You would hear the crunching of the helmets. I couldn't bear to watch but to listen to it was worse. Also I couldn't comprehend what the players could be learning from this. After the first time I could tell my son wanted to be a part of this as much as he wanted to walk into a room filled with spiders. He's really not an aggressive kid. This went so much against his nature that I would watch him do what he could to avoid that kind of rough contact.
Some of the players were thirsty for it though. They were "good" players but that instinct is what made them good. After my son's turn at this game of torture, he would slide to the back of the line and do what he could to make certain that he stayed at the back of the line. Several times I watched this happen and surprisingly he started making excuses as to why he couldn't go to practice that day or why he didn't want to play in the game.
Also, once again the experience he had with coaches wasn't the best. Promises were made but there wasn't any follow-thru. In the end he basically lost respect for men he should be able to trust. I am glad he went through what he did. Quite frankly, that was his path. He needed to find out on his own that a change was needed and along the way he learned to trust his instincts.
At this point I don't even think he wanted to play another sport but he kept his mind open. I started researching to see what else was available at the same time throwing options out to him and asking him his thoughts. I asked about baseball and he immediately said no. I was kind of glad because I don't know that would have been a good fit. Then I mentioned basketball. He plays basketball in the neighborhood with his friend and enjoys it. Some of the other kids have remarked that he plays well. He's tall so I thought this would be a good solution.
"NO MOM," was the response I got.
How could that be, I thought. I ran down the checklist in my head and everything seemed good. He later informed me that he just liked to play but didn't want to play on a "team." Okay, I understood the logic. If he's just playing then there isn't any stress. If he misses a shot, no big deal.
"What about cross country?"
I watched him run laps with the rest of his team out on the football field. He was usually 2nd or 3rd in line. He was able to endure the run because he was able to control his speed. He was mature enough to know how to come in 2nd or 3rd.
"NO MOM," was the response I got.
"I don't like running."
Okay, once again I get it. I don't like running either. What's left?
I could actually see a change in my son's attitude. He liked the game. Even when he found out that his younger friend would be playing in a different age bracket he was still okay. Normally something like this would rock his world. Not this time. That's when I knew we were on the right track. So far he doesn't check the weather to see whether or not there is a potentiall for practice or a game to be rained out. He's ready to go to practice and actually practices on his own from time to time. When his dad asked him if liked lacrosse better than football he didn't really answer directly but instead said, "It's a game with more strategy. You definitely use your head more." It is amazing because that is the first time he has given positive feedback about a sport/activity he has been involved in.
The game of lacrosse isn't nearly as nonviolent as I thought. It's amazing what you can get away with in lacrosse. It's a good thing they are pretty well padded because there are few places on the body they aren't allowed to attack with the stick. They wear helmets but at least they are not doing that senseless drill where they try to knock each others heads off or at least crack their skulls. Maybe they were just doing a helmet check football style.
It's amazing how when you are open to change, you can change your world.