Thursday, November 24, 2011

Oh No

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?

7 comments:

  1. Absolutely zero of my three boys are sporty. They're all A students, all readers, all musicians, and none are remotely interested in athletics of any sort.

    They are ridiculously skinny, pale, and... what? Geeky? Probably.

    I guess I haven't worried about any of it too much.

    You're loving your kids wonderfully, and you and your husband are modeling a great relationship. Everything else is probably just the "last 5%"...

    I'm cheering for you, and I think you should be crazy proud of how marvelously well you're doing as a parent!

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  2. Thanks, Lisa. I'm sure that by now, with 3 posts on the subject, I seem a little obsessed with getting my kid into a sport. In some ways, that's pretty far from the truth. I've hinted at the subtleties before--I see adolescence coming without any outlet for the emotional and physical upheaval. The smarts and creativity are in place and active, but they're not cutting it in terms of helping him, it seems. My best guess and parental instinct is to steer him toward physical activity. He needs it anyway, because he doesn't move nearly enough.

    And to further prove that I'm not a freaky parent, I'm only doing this with the one son. The other moves on his own and is doing fine, best I can tell. And when firstborn son noticed that I'm only picking on him, I took the chance to explain (most of) my thoughts.

    Parenting is going to be the end of me.

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  3. buy them lots of biographies of sports heros?

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  4. Ha! Good idea. But probably the best one is someone buys me a CHILL.PILL.

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  5. ahah your last comment. awesome. i have no words of wisdoom (AHAH THE TYPO STAYS), but just wanted to pop in and say i don't think you're obsessing over it. of course, my blog is called neurotic city, so.

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  6. I'm with Lisa--if your kids experience a loving, caring atmosphere and have not suffered any irreparable physical or emotional damage, then you are already in the top quintile of parents.

    Having said that, it still is quite possible that there is some sport, either mainstream or obscure, that he will take to. I suffered through a couple years of basketball in a YMCA league, but was never good and never enjoyed it. I did a bit of softball, but did not take to it. I was actually not horrible at soccer, and did not fear the games so much, but did not stick with it for some reason. In high school, my friends would play coed volleyball, which I was also okay at. It was a totally informal, social thing we had going, and was probably my favorite sport experience.

    Music, art, and pop culture (alt-pop, anyway) were my main channels in adolescence and I got through ok. If I had it all to do over again, I probably would opt to be introduced to a second language at a young age rather than more sports.

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  7. That's reassuring to hear, DD. And if I turn around from my computer chair, I'll see this amazing work of art that Simon is slowly creating on a blank white T-shirt. I'd never try to shift his allegiance from creative endeavors to sports, but maybe I need to encourage the creative more and make sure he's at the baseline for physical health, all the while hoping that something will stick, as volleyball did (in a way) for you.

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