This may be hard for you to believe based on my post from last week, but seriously, my daughter has more physical aptitude than my son. She does not hesitate in expending energy purely on the behalf of getting somewhere to play (especially if it’s where she shouldn’t be), whether it’s in using the cabinet drawer pulls as “steps” to get to the counter top or trying to climb the ladder to the monkey bars on the jungle gym. If I hold her up for her to grab the bars, she will, and I can let go without being overly concerned that she will release her grasp. On the other hand, Doodicus at her age resisted the slides at the park; he never climbed anything; and when I did hold him up to a bar to grab onto, he would whimper and let go almost immediately.
Ironically, while Aitch is willing to get herself into some rather dangerous situations, she still doesn’t get hurt as often as my son did at that age because it’s him that while walking a straight line from point A to point B on level ground that would fall down on his face.
With that being said, it was OK for him to be two and three years old and uncoordinated… it’s considered “normal”. Unfortunately, being an eight year old boy lacking coordination and athletic ability has more than once led to tears and rejection thanks to his peers.
It happened just as recently as Tuesday when I picked him up from daycare. As soon as the car’s door was closed, he started to cry. He didn’t have any friends, he said. He didn’t want to come to daycare anymore, he said. He told me how his Best Friend had been telling him all day to “shut his pie-hole” (which WTF?! Did his parents teach him that??). This Best Friend is the one that Doodicus was asked to befriend because HE didn’t have any friends. Doodicus, being a truly tender heart, befriended this kid.
Doodicus wasn’t up to talking about the details of the day, so I asked one of the staff. She said that Best Friend had hooked up with a younger kid and instead of being the pickEE, became the pickER by taking it out on my son. I asked Staff what is it about Doodicus that causes him to be picked on. Is he a bully at daycare? Does he not want to play nice? She told me that it’s because he’s not good at the games they play; he’s not athletic like most of the other kids. Already we have the hierarchy: Jocks, Geeks (the kids who bring their handheld gaming devices, which Doodicus is not allowed to do), and Dweebs – in that order. Apparently, my son falls in the Dweebs category.
The odds of Doodicus being born with natural athletic ability were incredibly low considering his parents. Sparring Partner wasn’t a Dweeb, but he wasn’t a Jock by any stretch of the imagination. He was a Gear Head. Somehow, he had learned to skateboard, but that was the extent of his athletic ability. As for me? It was by charm alone that I landed a job as a ballroom dance instructor. That and they were desperate.
We try to get Doodicus involved in the sports he seems interested in like soccer and football. In fact, this fall he’ll be playing 3rd grade full-contact football at the Y. After watching him go through the assessments, I was thankful it was me that had taken him and not his father. I cringed when he was took the football stance and I winced when he tried to tackle the football dummy. And watching him reflectively pull his arms back in and stop short when being thrown the football so that it bounced to the ground untouched made me grateful I was several feet away under the shade of a tree so he couldn’t see my face. Of course, when he would look to me, I would smile big and give him two big thumbs up sign in encouragement and approval.
When we got home that day, I pulled Sparring Partner aside and told him to get outside and help Doodicus practice throwing and catching a football as much as he could over the summer. I also understood why Doodicus would complain when they played football at school and the daycare because the kids never threw him the ball even when he was open. He obviously was afraid of the ball.
You and I know that in 20 years, no one will give a rat’s ass if he can catch a football and run in for a touchdown or score a goal by kicking a soccer ball over his head. But I also know how much it sucks to be a kid who doesn’t fit in, having been there myself. Being picked last for almost every game ever played on the playground for 12 years blows, but not being able to assure my son that eventually none of it will matter is just plain heartbreaking and impossible.
If you are lucky enough to have a kid who seems to excel at some kind of sport, thank your stars. They will probably never come home crying from school asking why can’t they be popular or why does no one likes them. Also, if you could do me a really BIG favor? Teach your athletic child that the kids who can’t catch a ball or climb the rope in gym class can still make great friends. The un-athletic kid is funny, can keep a secret, will remember your birthday, and draw amazing pictures. The un-athletic kid can grow up to be the best kind of friend one needs in adulthood if you don’t write them off as a Dweeb, one that still keeps a secret and has never forgotten your birthday.