A Player

Boo is an enthusiastic player.  I mean, that boy knows how to play.  Anything and everything.  I am so grateful.  I've had parents tell me they had a second, third or fourth child so the kids would have playmates.  I assume there was more to it than just that.  As an Only, I can't help but feel that parents pity him a bit, pity me a bit.

We were told by his foster family that even as an infant, he loved the water and being outdoors.  Neighbors may see him in our yard, playing with sticks and stones and water and running through the grass, making piles of dirt and collecting bugs. At the pool, he is busy pretending and making up games, swimming and squirming like an otter.

Although not particularly athletic, he has great balance and we took off his training wheels before his fifth birthday.  We are not a particularly athletic family, preferring the outdoors, the arts and culture.  On the other hand, he never showed much interest in sports until recently.

I saw other families spend much of their free time running from one activity to another, giving up much of their weekends to sports teams and tournaments.  There's even a recent book called Until It Hurts: American's Obsession with Youth Sports & How it Harms our Kids.  I heard an interview on NPR with the author who was a "soccer dad" type and how he drove his kids to perform.  There was a time when kids didn't start sports until they were maybe 11, 12.  Now of course, you start at 5 with tee ball.  That is not the life I wanted for us.  Given Boo's history, we wanted as much family time, relational time and bonding time as possible.

I also wanted him to "be a kid," like we were when we were young.  Not out of mere nostalgia but because of the rich benefits we derived from wandering around, feeling different textures, smelling all the smells, discovering God's handiwork.  And yes, even sometimes, getting bored.  It turns out that our brains develop from all the sensory input by being around nature.

Because of how our culture has become, it is a natural question to ask if Boo is involved in sports.  I find myself explaining, almost apologizing for not, as if I were a bad mother.  It's not that I think they are judging me; they are just making friendly conversation.  But I do get that question a lot and I haven't been able to find a gracious way of replying, without apologizing, without explaining all of Boo's neurological weaknesses, without sounding righteous.


Haley said...

I was just discussing this with one of my co-workers the other day. I was in sports, but like you said, I didn't start until I was 11. While I feel the my time as a cheerleader helped shape me into the person I am today; teamwork, learning to deal with "difficult" personalities, and such, I don't believe that sports in today's day and age instill that. I feel that children's sports today instill competition. I am sure there are still coaches out there that strive to instill great values into their teams, but I feel that there are more coaches out there pushing for the win and taking the fun out of the actual sport. It is ok to be competetive, but children also need to understand that isn't the only aspect of why we play the game. My co-worker's daughter is 13 and is in volleyball, track, basketball, softball, and dance. She gets home at 10 o'clock at night and routinely doesn't go to bed til close to midnight because she has to study sometime. A slow day for her is only having one sport to go to. And these aren't just the traditional season times in school...these are league teams as well so they take up her whole summer. He looked at me like I was crazy when I said that I felt bad for her and that she would be the straight A student that cracks her freshman year of college because she has never gotten to just relax. But what do I know? I could be completely wrong, and I hope that I am, but you can't push a child like this and expect her to not break at some point.

Amy said...

I hear you. I'm already feeling the pressure and Bridget's not quite 4. We spend the majority of our time at our home, inside or outside, and they play, read, dance and sing, make tents, do lots of artwork, splash and play outside, do puzzles, and preschool worksheets. But I can't tell you how much explaining I have to do about their lack of enrollment in things.