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.

20 thoughts on “Dweeb”

  1. There’s being uncoordinated and then there is being UNCOORDINATED.
    We are dealing with this with our son. You might want to check out :
    Our son fits in almost every characteristic except for fine motor skills at which he is quite good. I would write more but a small 3 year old is demanding attention (as they do).

  2. Kids really are shits at this age. I see it among our nephews.

    I suck at team sports — totally uncoordinated and afraid of the ball, and almost always the last one picked. Even the idea of a company softball team scares the crap out of me. But I think a lot of that could have been due to the fact that in grade school I needed my glasses to read the blackboard, but yet I never wore them in gym class or at recess. No one made the connection. Similarly, DH’s ability to catch a baseball decreased throughout grade school, along with his vision. So a repeat vision exam might be worthwhile for Doodicus.

    DH was the original 90-lb weakling throughout high school — he was terrified that our twins would be boys, because he had such a bad experience. But he did quite well at cross country and track, and he also likes cycling. The endurance sports (including swimming), along with martial arts, can be great fits for kids who don’t like team sports.

  3. Does he have any interest in swimming? Kelsey just hasn’t ever been good at most sports, but with swimming, she didn’t feel the same “team” pressure she felt with other sports, and she was able to learn it all on her own, without anybody judging her. Maybe he’d do better with something like that?

  4. You know I’ve talked (probably to the point of being annoying) about how my son is a natural athlete. We know we are lucky in that regard. His best friend at school is probably 20 pounds overweight – and not athletic at all. It would never occur to my son to choose his friends based on athletic ability. I hope that never changes.

  5. Mini is terribly uncoordinated and low tone. He trips a lot. I know he’ll be one of those kids. I already cringe thinking about it. But I’ll enroll him early in sports and hopefully OT will help him develop a little more coordination and confidence.

  6. Okay, I think that it is partially a power thing for kids at that age. My 8 yr old is okay or better at sports, but sometimes the boys seem to take turns ravaging each other for reasons that are beyond me. I thought it was girls who are supposed to be mean!

  7. I have 2 very athletic boys and one that is freakishly brilliant, but would trip on his shoelaces….even if they were tied.

    It broke my heart over and over and over again when he was not picked for ANYTHING. I can’t tell you how many other peoples kids I wanted to give a good smack down for being shit heads to my wonderful kid.

    We finally had a talk with him (he was about 3rd grade) and told him that he didn’t have to even attempt another sport if he didn’t want to. We added that there were many kinds of people in the world and only some of them could throw, catch, dodge and weave. The others were smart. He actually bought it and immersed himself in things he enjoyed. He took apart small appliances and put them back together…he read tons and tons of books, and we just encouraged him to do what he liked. Solo activities…..there he soared. For him, it was the competition and aggression in other kids that made him back away….that and a lack of comfort with physical stuff.

    Was it hard having the kid that didn’t fit in. HELL YES. But, we all survived and with lots of love and reinforcement about the things he DID do well, he is now extremely confident and is a very capable, level headed guy that doesn’t need the masses to approve of him.

    There are so many things that you write about Dood that remind me SO much of my son. He will find his niche. Unfortunately he has to get through all the crappy ass crap that other kids throw around in their struggle for power.

    I wouldn’t take a gazillion dollars to be a kid again.

    (Sorry…this post touched a nerve and brought back a lot of memories and feelings….I didn’t mean to hijack your post 😦

  8. I think we’ve ‘discussed’ this before, I was also highly non-athletic as a kid, and know all about being the last one picked. It really does suck, even when you KNOW you’re no good at whatever it is. I think having SP and Dood spend a lot of time this summer working on it is a great idea. It makes such a difference, although it shouldn’t!

    (Funny that now I’m a total jock! without that mentality though)

  9. This sounds much like my nephew. He’s kinda short, skinny, uncoordinated, not dumb, but not exceptionally smart either – just kind of average. He apparently had a rough time in grade school, but now that he’s in high school, things are better. Plus, he’s found something that interests him. So, try to boost him up as much as possible, and see if you can find some nice kids somewhere for him to play with. And, like everyone else says, find that thing that he does really well, and try to focus on it.

    Otherwise, teach him how to be really nice to the girls, so when all those hormones kick in, he’ll already be ahead of the game!

  10. My husband is tall, almost 6’4″. They put him on the basketball team in high school because a kid that height? Surely, he would be a great basketball player won’t he? He ended up being the guy bringing the equipment in and out. Then “quit” the team after the year was up.

    Reading this post broke my heart because I can just imagine me and my son in these very same circumstances in a few years.

  11. Oh, that is so mean. I remember the days of rejection. It plan old sucks. I remember when Alex went through that with kids at day care and in grade school. I just wanted to hold him tight and never let the mean old world touch him. Now I want to do that to Doodicus. Give him a big hug from Auntie Shanna in Wisconsin.
    I did make sure that Alex is nice to especially younger kids, like his cousins. Sometimes I do have to remind him that he was once left out or picked on and make him remember what he felt then. That still at almost 17 makes him stop and change his tune.
    The Beast is going to be ok on her own, nothing seems to bother my girl. She is way less sensitive then her brother was and still is. 😉

    Good luck protecting your boy for as long as you can. You need to toss the ball with him, then if he can catch or throw better then you that will give him some confidence in himself. If dad is tossing it with him he might not get all the positive reinforcement that he seems to need.

  12. Kids suck. Been there, done that. DaBoy was all elbows & knobby knees as a youngster. He STILL can’t ride a skateboard for more that 15 feet, couldn’t catch or throw, didn’t like to run, or anything even slightly athletic. He went out for football in middle school (which scared me half to death) Thank GOD he didn’t make the team.
    He was always picked on since he was (still is) scrawny, to the point where in 4th or 5th grade, a couple of boys were chasing him and he fell (shocking right?)breaking his 2 front teeth on the concrete. We signed him up for Tang Soo Do the next day. He’s still wiry, but he’s got swagger. It really did wonders for his confidence. Check at the Y and see if they have any classes there.

    If he’ll let you, give him a hug & tell him not to change a damn thing about himself! He’s a great kid.

  13. The unfortunate part is that there is a double standard. To be a boy it is almost a requirement to be athletic.
    Agree with previous comments, look around, have him try different things. I lie the idea of him an SP practicing catching and throwing. The more practice he gets, the better he will get, the more confidence he will have.
    So I guess the elementary school recess hasn’t gotten any better in regards to bullying…

  14. You just described my oldest son. He is not athletic at all although he does try. I know it is so frustrating for him but he keeps practicing and we find that he is getting better at some things. Tell Doodicus to hang in there. There has to be something he is good at – swimming, martial arts, etc. Find that and stick with it.

  15. Poor Doodicus. I was going to say something similar as Jess did. Confidence can come from other places, too.

    But man, it totally sucks to see your kid face the same hurts you did when you were his age. Kids can be so cruel.


  16. I was the uncoordinated kid, too. Honestly, even now my wii fit says, “You fall down a lot, right?” and I do. I walk into walls and doorways on a regular basis.

    And yet… I’m not too bad at karate. I don’t remember if that’s something you’ve ever considered for Doodicus, but (assuming you find a good dojo) it’s something that can help with balance (wii notwithstanding) and coordination and just general athleticism. My favorite part is that the instructors at our dojo stress that the only person you’re competing with is yourself; different people progress at different rates, and that’s fine. Plus? Breaking boards is kind of cool.

    Just putting it out there. YMMV. 🙂

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