The uniform reaction of all mothers looking in on the final wrestling practice was this: "Ewww."
The boys, every last one of them, had their shirts off. They played a kind of flag football with their tops hanging from their bottoms, and it would be the last wrestling activity my son, Simon, would try.
Simon is tall, and lining him up according to height for a sparring showdown showed no deference to his lack of athleticism. He stood dangerously close in line to Jack, a 12-year-old who tips the scale past 180; the boy he did end up wrestling the last day, a kid about his height but with something of a gut, proved too heavy. Simon gave him a good fight but a short one, and that was that. He comes by his fear of the sport honestly.
Though his group would go on to compete in duals, we didn't push him to do so, as the compromise to try this new sport was taxing enough.
On all of us. Mainly me.
"I'll follow your exercise plan, Mom," he told me. He figures I'll let him out of a sport or class if he promises to obey a routine I write up. But his father and I know better. This "routine" will require Mom to stand guard for an hour over Simon's bad posture and form, with the result that no one's happy.
"You'd be crying to go back to wrestling," I said. Five minutes on the rowing machine last week proved this to be true--the crying part, at least.
So here we are again, back to square one, where Mom stands wondering how to help her kid through adolescence. Lord knows I try. I model everything possible--regular exercise, reading, charitable works, good hygiene.
Yet the deodorant stands at full height, and no one wants to sweat. Only the reading has stuck.
The other week, I took my kids to the boxing gym on sparring night thinking they'd enjoy being close to the action. (I'm not convinced this is the sport for them, by the way; I'd rather be the one taking the punches.)
They brought their books.
They're ringside, literally within spitting distance, sweat flying their way, boxers on the ropes just a foot from their faces, and they, the children I bore, opened their books.
From ewww to ohhhh. Oh, what to do?