I went to a tiny private school as a kid. We regularly participated in a “sport” called kickball, in which you kick the ball and then run the bases. When we weren’t doing that, we played Red Rover, the most evil and sadistic game of all time, in which fat little boys in Dockers ran full force into the spindly arms of their female opponents in pinafores. Over the remaining years of schooling, I ran, played volleyball, baseball, basketball, tennis, jumped hurdles, had a brief stint as a bowler. I’m sure there was more, I’ve probably blocked it all. Everything had one element in common: I was terrible at it. Even now, at 33 years old, I keep hoping I will surprise myself and be awesome at an athletic activity. Like, oh my gosh, who knew I would kill at golf? (I played golf. Did not kill.)
I spent hours, days, months of my life doing physical activities that I hated and was not good at. My childhood was overwhelmingly happy, but all that time sweating and failing feels like such a waste. If I had spent that time reading encyclopedias instead, maybe we’d have cancer cured by now.
And I have this kid who at first glance appears to share my athletic prowess. But I still want him to try, because boys are supposed to do sports, right? I have no doubt that he would very happily stay inside the house all day every day, playing computer games and reading books, and he would not miss the outdoors or gymnastics one bit. I get that. That’s kind of how I roll, until my recent psychotic break that has me working out 3 mornings a week until I want to vomit but I can’t because my abs won’t work.
I have the middle two in gymnastics, and the preschool class was fun, running, doing flips down ramps, all playful stuff. But now he’s in this trampoline class and I feel like it’s shooting his confidence. The coach is stern, not mean- just not warm and he runs a tight ship of 6 year old trampoliners. Toby is so used to being encouraged and celebrated that he just doesn’t know what to do with criticism. Which is a problem, right? You have to know how to roll with the punches. But then I think, why am I setting him up for this, putting him in something I know will be challenging for him and even if he tries very hard, he won’t be great at it. My inner scrawny 6 year old wants to give the kid a break and let him quit. My inner grownup parent thinks kids need to be pushed a little and he has to learn to take direction. I am at war with myself.
We’ve reached an agreement to finish the month and then re-assess. He’s okay with continuing, but I don’t know how much I can take of him finishing a lesson in tears. I could try another sport, but neither he or I is very excited about taking on an outdoor activity. Blegh. Maybe I should put him in dance.
In related news, I am in week 3 of my fitness bootcamp and still very, very bad at it. The good news is I am less bad at it than I was in the beginning. So. That’s kind of like progress. Right?