Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Sports, Scouting and Second-Guessing..(part 1)

Things haven’t been going the way that they were “planned” as of late.  Actually, that’s a lie. They never go as I had imagined when I first had my boy.

I thought of all of the things I would do with him once he was bigger…. Little League, Cub Scouts, School fun days, riding his bike, playdates with friends.  I had this picture in my mind.  I think we all get this picture once our children are born, it’s natural to think of the future fun.

But that was then……… this is now. I have a son that would rather read than play, has no real friends and is so afraid of failing -  so he doesn’t want to even try.... BUT he also wants to do what the other kids are doing. He wants to be involved in all that they do. 

So, in Kindergarten he asked me if he could play baseball.  He had seen the kids out practicing in the field behind his school. I was a bit unsure, but figured that all of the kids would be about on the same level, since they were all so little.  Boy was I wrong!  I had no idea that most of them started T-ball at 3 years old.  He was already behind the curve, but there were a few others, so his differences did not stand out too much.  It was hard to watch, but he made progress….. I made progress in not caring what other’s thought.  We still didn’t have a diagnosis, but I knew something was just “off”.

Our little baseball player

The next year he begged me to play again. By this time we had received the diagnosis of autism. I figured we would try and if he didn’t last the season, well, then we wouldn’t worry about it. He lasted the season, but even though he didn’t notice…… I did…… the differences were showing to the other kids. They were picking up on his quirks and making fun of him.  I played momma bear and tried to teach them to play nicely with each other, no matter who they were dealing with.  Once again, he was happy and once again, I was miserable. I was happy that he hadn’t seen the cruelness of kids, but hurt that when he finally did notice, that he would see it was directed at him.

I was happy that the next year, he never mentioned baseball again. I asked him about signing up, just in case, but he declined. I was thrilled when he didn’t want to.  I figured that he had just been bored in the outfield and that sports were just not his bag.

I was wrong once again. You would think that I would get used to this, but it still amazes me each time I’m wrong!  He piped up at the end of summer that the kids at school were going to be playing soccer and that he thought he would be a great soccer player. AHHHHHH!!!  I had hoped that we were done with sports, but alas…..  So I signed him up with the rec department with much trepidation. I pulled aside one of the board members that looked like a grandmotherly type during their evaluations, told her of my plight and asked if she could put him on a team with a coach who would be understanding and supportive. She was an answer to prayer. He had a great coach that never left him out.  He taught the kids to value one another and that everyone had different skills and traits.  It is amazing what a good coach can do.  He loved it, I loved the team and even though I could see the differences, we made it through a great season. Yippee!

I'm not sure if he is excited enough!

Fast forward to the next season……… He asked, I signed him up, I once again had a quick chat with the same board member…….. and lo and behold…….. we got a crappy coach!  The kids made fun of him, one kid actually hit him in the face with a ball on purpose (kid & parent were mad that he was punished by another coach that saw it) and he was only put in for a couple of minutes each game because he wasn’t a “star player”.  Many of us parents went to this coach about his attitude and behavior…… but it didn’t really change.  He still had fun, and it was nice to meet a great group of parents .  Now being 8, I could see so many differences, but we were better at working through them…… we were both learning.

Now I’m scared.  He asked me a few months ago to play baseball again.  He’s been out of playing for 2 years. The other kids have not. They have grown and matured, practiced, learned the game and built up skills…….. he has not.  The stark reality hit me the other day at his first practice.  (Oh, and his coach starts practice before I even get out of work, so we can’t make it, but don’t even get me started on that!)  While he was remembering all of the basics of throwing, catching, and hitting, the other kids were having a real game!  It was heartbreaking.  At Opening Day this past Saturday, the kids were grouping together, milling about, playing …. And he was hiding behind  a book. He wanted to be there, but didn’t know how to interact. I tried to engage the kids with him, but to no avail.  I so don’t want to watch this season. His coach is unaccommodating…….. it is hard. I fear most of all that this will be the year he sees the differences……….. and for the hurt that will come along with that. 

You might think that by now I would be able to overcome my concerns and worry about sports after these years, he’s 9 already, but……. I can’t, I may never, I’m just too scared for my little boy.

And yes..... I know I should happy that he can participate at all, many kids can't at all...... and I do know this in my heart, and I am happy that he can participate, it just hurts....... and I do feel the hurt for my friends who can't experience this at all..... that would like for their kiddos to be able to just try sports.... I do understand, but it doesn't change the hurt in my heart for my sweet baby boy.

Opening Day....... before it got crazy

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