Wednesday, April 11, 2012

No, We Aren't Playing Baseball This Year

It's spring. Soccer and baseball and softball have already started up by us, and by mid-June they'll be over. When I grew up - where I grew up? - these were truly summer sports and didn't encroach so much on spring and the school year. I've been having the question for months already, especially since sign ups for some sports happen back in December, "So, are the wee ones playing (fill in the blank) this year?"

Well, no. They aren't. It just doesn't fit for them, unfortunately.

We tried t-ball for two years because everyone else we know plays, and it was miserable. Neither of the wee ones enjoyed playing, and they weren't that good either. Not having good coaches meant that at the end of the second season, I was still working on teaching them the basic rules (No! When you run to first base, you run the other way!) rather than watching their skills progress to where they could start hitting coach pitch.

Last year, Little Miss played soccer. She liked that a little better, as she loves running around. In practice, she apparently was faster than anyone else and could steal the ball from anyone. Come game time, she hung back each and every time. Her first goal was an own goal. She didn't love it though, and when I asked if she wanted to play again this past fall, she declined. It just wasn't her thing. And Mister Man? I knew better than to let me easily overstimulated sensory-seeking Aspie kid out on a soccer field when he's already not super regulated, not that he had any interest in playing to begin with.

Instead, the wee ones have focused on other sports. Mister Man has done tae kwon do for almost two years, and this is his great love. He goes two or three times each week, and he still tells me that his goal is to make it to black belt. I've seen how it helps his focus and his impulse control, although both still need improvement. They're working now on his push ups, and he's convinced that some day he'll do pull ups, too.

Little Miss is my gymnastics girl. She was invited to the preteam this year, and she's been doing three to four hours of gymnastics a week. Her skills progression has been awesome to watch - and she loves showing me new tricks like her pull overs or the hand stand to a forward roll or the back walkover she can do on her own (when she's on a wedge mat). She's proud and thrilled with what she can do, and she loves how strong it's making her. Right now, she's not doing a Monday night class I had her in to keep her occupied while Mister Man was in OT at the same facility, and every week she asks if she gets to go to gymnastics on Monday - disappointed when the answer is no.

I love that they've discovered sports they're passionate about and that they're the ones who discovered them and are truly the ones who love the time and energy they put into their respective sports. But their sports are a little off the beaten path. And the locations we've been going to aren't the ones that their friends necessarily attend. In a way, that's a little hard because it isn't the same level of social interaction and bonding that so many other kids have talking about the teams they're on together or the sports they do at the same place. I worry just a little bit that they'll one day decide that what they're doing just isn't "cool" enough and want to quit because their friends aren't there with them.

In fact, we changed the gym that Little Miss was at recently, partly for that reason. While Little Miss had been making progress, each time I saw the class (and I didn't often, as my mom insists on taking her to class and spending time with her there) I was disappointed by how hands off the instructors were. I felt like she wasn't getting the corrections she needed not just to get better today but to be safe tomorrow and later when she's doing more difficult and potentially dangerous maneuvers. I discovered almost by accident that one of her classmates attends another gym (not the main one in town that everyone goes to - that one costs as much for one class as what I had been paying for two, ouch!) where the focus is on form and safety. And Little Miss would have a friend there, though the friend is two levels above her right now. We made the switch, and though the class is harder, Little Miss is thrilled - not that she has a friend who goes to the same place, but that she is being challenged and she's rising to that challenge.

In the end, that's what I want the wee ones to do. I want them to carve their own paths. I want them to find their passions and chase them, no matter what their friends are doing or what the popular thing to do is. I want them to find what makes them happy and stick with it. Somehow, I'm ok looking at my friends and acquaintances and telling them yet again, "No. We aren't playing baseball this year. It's just not our thing." When they look at me sadly, my focus is on the smiles I see from the wee ones when they head into class, excited to see what the next hour will bring.

How have you or your children carved your own paths, or have you followed the traditional path and been happy with that?

In the interest of full disclosure, I received a copy of "Up: A Mother and Daughter’s Peakbagging Adventure" by Patricia Ellis Herr as part of the From Left to Write book club where we don't write traditional book reviews but instead write posts inspired by the books we read. I was not compensated, and all opinions expressed remain my own.


Cris Goode April 11, 2012 at 9:01 PM  

Love this! I think the freedom of carving one's own path will serve the wee ones well in life. Not all parents would be as open to it as you have been and they are lucky to have a mom that really gets it!

BTW Mister Man is too cute!

Thien-Kim aka Kim April 12, 2012 at 2:06 AM  

My daughter wants to try everything! Ballet, gymnastics, martial arts. I have no idea where to start.

Ariane April 12, 2012 at 7:26 AM  

Oh good for you, making the choice not to do baseball! I was so glad, relieved, delighted when my son made that decision finally. It was something that seemed to exotic to me -- Little League -- so I'm glad we had a chance to try it, but also, as above, so relieved when his interests took him elsewhere. Good for you letting your kids' interests lead: so important, yes, to let them carve their own path. Nice work, lady! XO

Tami April 12, 2012 at 6:15 PM  

Kids will enjoy sports if they are interested and have a passion for it. It's not good to push your kids into a sport they don't like. You are a good mom to have them try it and move on if they don't like it.

Lisa Hanneman April 12, 2012 at 10:04 PM  

I think you're right on. We put William in soccer when he was two and a half, because we figured it would be fun. It wasn't. He hated it. So, we're giving him more time before we sign him up for another activity.

Janin April 13, 2012 at 9:51 AM  

My boys both love baseball-- but it's one of the few 'sports' that I always liked, so well before the teams were around, I was teaching them how to play. By three, they could each hit a thrown ball. My oldest tried karate, but he didn't really like it. I figure I'll ask again next year when his little brother will be old enough to try it if he wants. He's expressed an interest in gymnastics-- but the closest that allows boys is 2 hours away and too expensive. He'd also love to learn parkour, but we're in such a rural area, I don't even now -how- to get him started on that one. So mostly, in rural southern Alabama, I get to appreciate when my boys want to play the common sports--because we just don't have access to the uncommon ones.

Sandra April 16, 2012 at 1:42 PM  

It's so important to have children participate in activities they enjoy, even if it means switching every season or every year to find out. We're still searching. Even if we don't find the one, all the experiences of them all will hopefully have had their value added somewhere along the lines!

Susan (5 Minutes For Mom) April 17, 2012 at 8:24 PM  

I've had my first girl Julia try several activities such as ballet, gymnastics and ice skating. She LOVES ice skating and the other two as well. We signed her up for softball for the first time this year, but it's been rained so far and then she's going to miss the next 4 practice/games for our Disney trip. She doesn't even want to practise it... I doubt she'll be a big baseball players.

My 4 yr old tried ballet, and didn't like it. Loves going to gymnastic drop in, but not the class. And hasn't yet wanted to do any other classes.

Michelle April 17, 2012 at 8:54 PM  

Cris - I really do think that finding your own happiness - and being encouraged to do so - will really make a difference later in life.

Kim - It's hard, isn't it? We limit it to one activity (excepting Girl Scouts/Cub Scouts that's 1/month) at a time so they have downtime, but we've been through our share of sports. Just try something and see if it sticks!

Ariane - I actually grew up playing softball and actually still did play until our church league dissolved last year due to lack of fields to play, so I was all for them playing. In fact I have cleats up to size 2 or 3 in prep for them playing, but... They have to choose!

Tami - They will, and your sons are proof of that. I like how your kids all play different sports and you're ok with that. My mom always pushed my sister to follow whatever I wanted to do, which wasn't good for her.

Lisa - Two and a half is hard. A lot of friends had kids in dance recitals then, but... we did mom and tot gymnastics, and that was it. You'll find the right thing when it's time.

Janin - That's awesome that they have such talent for it. I hope they continue to enjoy it. We're lucky living where we do that we could play almost any sport we want. Although, parkour? That one I'm not familiar with (googling)

Sandra - It is. Right now, we're sticking with what we have because they enjoy it. Little Miss wanted to quit gymnastics awhile ago because "it was too hard" (meaning she was learning new things and didn't know how to do everything right away) - that was not a valid excuse for quitting.

Susan - At 4, it's hard to always find what they like, especially when there's an older sibling who's done it first and is therefore better. That was always my sister's issue. I love that you put Julia in ice skating and that she loves it. There are so many possibilities out there!

tiarastantrums April 24, 2012 at 9:07 AM  

We have tried everything. NO go for soccer and t-ball or Little League. Ice skating hurt too much, even though they all did great. Girls are so over ballet and tap. Horse riding is a a huge love - but a huge chunk of cash! Gymnastics was awesome, but the kids got sick of it after 3 years. Where do you go now? We tried K. in town (so-so), M. outside of town (don't like the coaches)and stayed by us for quite awhile until my son's coach said the "F" word at his class. Right now, we are on the music route, they all seem to be happy with the instruments. Although spring is here and I know the horses will be begged for!

Pat April 25, 2012 at 1:01 PM  

Baseball and basketball were not my sons' things. Since they were always very tall for their ages, people would often ask if they played basketball (on a school team), but no, they are not very athletic or aggressive (sports-wise) and so they only played rec league basketball and soccer. But now as adults, they enjoy the occasional pick-up basketball game. The only sport they all enjoyed a lot was (and still is) soccer. My youngest son (almost 30) still plays soccer with friends weekly, and my middle son joins them sometimes, too. Oldest son's too busy with work and family obligations. I just love that they hang out together periodically and they are all good friends.

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