This past Saturday marked the beginning of spring soccer here in our little Westchester town. Unfortunately, though our six-year-old son was signed up, he spent the morning reassembling his Hogwarts Lego instead.
My son played soccer last fall, and every Saturday morning my husband would beg, cajole, and bribe to get him to the field. It would go something like this:
"If you try really hard during practice before the game, then you only have to play half the game." ... "Okay, fine, you can skip the game but only if you try your best during practice, and no moaning."... "C'mon, just try, it'll be fun. We can get a doughnut afterwards."
My poor husband got worn down and gave up the fight. So this spring my kid is playing zero organized sports...with zero organized sports in his future.
Whenever we bring up the idea of my son trying something else--karate or T-ball, say--all we get back from him is, "NO, NO, I hate sports!"
Which isn't exactly true. He loves kicking the ball around with his dad and playing baseball in the backyard. But if he gets any whiff of real competition, forget it.
My husband is bummed. When we learned our firstborn would be a boy, visions of bringing his son to Mets games and bonding over shared love for the team floated through is head. Instead, the boy couldn't care less. Last summer the whole family went to a Mets game. My son enjoyed himself because he loves giant pretzels, cotton candy, and fun-to-climb stadium steps. End of story. Oh, there was a game going on? News to him.
The same goes with football. His favorite thing about it? The "football snacks" (i.e. normally-forbidden junk like Bugles, Doritos & Ruffles) we serve while watching playoff games. I'm sure if someone were to mention the word "Superbowl" to my son today, his mouth would water in anticipation of greasy, salty snacks.
When our son was four and showed little interest in organized sports, I told my husband to be patient. I was pretty sure school would peer-pressure him into caring. Well, Kindergarten is wrapping up in a couple months and there's been no change.
"Do kids in your class talk about the Giants?" my husband asked our son during playoff season.
"Do they like the Giants? Do they watch games on TV and know about the players and stuff?"
Hmmm, guess that's why the kid's best friends in school are girls.
Our son is athletic enough--you should see him bat, he sends the ball flying. His problem is mental: He's nervous he won't be good and therefore doesn't want to even try. We are reluctant to force him to play sports even though other parents have suggested that's the only way to get your child over his or her fear.
It's gotten so bad that my son doesn't even enjoy himself at sports-themed birthday parties. He's fine if the kids are allowed to roam the gym freely and experiment with the equipment as they choose. But once he hears, "Okay, let's all line up, this is what we're going to do" he's OUT.
I recently had to RSVP "no" to a party for one of his classmates because the party venue was the scary-sounding Sportime. My husband has had enough of my son complaining and not participating at sports parties so he just won't go anymore. The way I see it is no cake and gift bag for you if you don't play along. What kid doesn't want to go to a birthday party? That cannot be normal. It's very frustrating.
I don't know...he's only six. There's still time. Maybe it'll happen on its own.
Or maybe it won't. Which is okay, too.