How To Choose A Sport

There are two types of people in the world: those who watch boxing movies and then want to beat someone up, and those who watch them and don't.

My family splits down the middle.

Simon, 11, is a lot like his mom. He's gentle, and yet you sense a buried fierceness in there. He's strong. At his age, he is unable to harness any of that power, but he's drawn to try.

Only to a point. Also like his mother, Simon suffers from attachment issues, and he's not about to give himself completely to anything he enjoys. Disappointment may come, so why get involved in the first place?

When I first saw him punch, I knew he loved it. I held the mitts for him here at home and encouraged him to keep going. Nah, he said, and headed back for his book.

When he came home from school after a PE class in wrestling, I saw him beam with delight. I got to flip a kid onto the mat! he said. Then he went back to his book.

I stopped in to talk to the PE teacher about the wrestling. Among the list of concerns I had was Simon's lack of body awareness--he's awkward, and doesn't move from his core. Won't he get hurt?

The teacher eased my fears. He told me about his own son, a nonathlete, and how this was a great sport for him. After talking it over with Greg, about how we've got to get the kid in something, how the moodiness is here, the deodorant is needed, he needs an outlet and fast, I signed up Simon. And he was horrified.

But he made it through the first week, with a promise from me that he can be done in a month, when the class finishes. I told him day one will not look anything like the last week. That we can't be good at something all at once. How his wits will save him in a sport like this. That he needs to learn what it feels like to literally throw himself into something and see it through to the end.

My prediction: He'll enjoy it but won't want to do it again, and we'll have to start this process over (we've tried your basic boot camp classes here and there, as well). He likes swimming, but that won't provide the aggression outlet. Boxing requires too much core and legs, and he's not ready. Football, too much agility.

I'm running out of sports that suit his personality, which is where you need to begin. I, for one, could never take up running. People in my circle are always running 5Ks, but I could never run a 5K. This is not a matter of strength or endurance. My mind will not let me do anything hovering on the brink of tedium; ask me sometime about my foray into knitting. The only way you'd ever find me running a race was if zombies were chasing me.

So while any race is hard work, which I would never discredit, running is not the sport for me. Personality and sport must meet somewhere, and mine tend toward power and a higher level of risk. Why do it otherwise?

Simon is 11 years old and 115 pounds. If he leans into me, I could fall over. I've told him that the minute I can no longer pick him up, I'll stop feeding him. (He's got a while--I can pick up his father.)

After watching a boxing clip with me, he exclaimed, I just want to BEAT SOMEONE UP! I really do! He was downright beside himself.

Me, too! I said.

Then he went back to his book, and I to my blog.


  1. ooohhh, interesting! since my kid is not a boy, i hadn't given any thought to the necessity of a physical outlet, but yeah, it makes so much sense! sounds like you're on the right track to finding something that suits him. also, you can pick up his father?? *boggles*

  2. Yes, I'm a new convert to athletic activity and its many benefits, so I'm trying to be encouraging but not too pushy. I know that if Simon/we can find that trigger, he'll be good to go, but right now, he'd rather not exert himself... You'll figure out what your kid needs, for sure.

    And yes, I can pick up Greg, who weighs about 155, from the front. Maybe he doesn't want this to be public. Maybe I should hope he doesn't read this?


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