It’s Saturday night and I am icing my swollen ankle. I sprained it earlier today at Ani’s softball game, of all silly places.
The early morning Under 10 division game was pretty slow moving, as to be expected. I had advised Asa to bring his homework, or a book. But did he listen to me? He did not. He brought his binoculars instead. Thus far, at the bottom of the first inning, the only thing he deemed worthy of pulling them out for was to see Ani’s facial expression close up when she didn’t catch the pop fly. “She looks very disappointed” he observed. “Now she is really frowning.”
After Ani’s expression evened out, Asa put the binoculars away and got very bored. “Can I play ‘Cut the Rope’ on your I-phone, Mom?” he asked. “Definitely not” I replied. I did not want Asa playing on my phone during the game; there were too many better options for him, like just watching the game and being bored. After all, he could have been doing his homework or reading a book if he had followed my recommendation.
On second thought, maybe I could persuade him to play catch with me. I had brought his barely used (once to be exact) mitt and an adult mitt to the game. “Let’s play catch, Ace”. “Nah.” “C’mon, it’ll be fun!” “No.” “Why not?” “I don’t want to.” I had hoped both of my kids would enjoy playing catch by now, enjoy the smack of the ball into the leather glove and the meditation of the back and forth.
I noticed a Dad and a little boy Asa’s age playing catch at the far end of the field. They were smooth and in the flow of the back and forth ball throwing. It took all of my verbal restraint not to bring Asa’s attention to that boy. “You could do that too if we practiced a little bit sometimes” I said in my head.
Asa has recently begun identifying as a kid who doesn’t play sports. When his best buddies at school go off at recess to play soccer or baseball or football, he just goes over to the bars and swings alone. Now mind you, he loves a good game of tag. He also really enjoys wrestling, archery, bike riding, pogo stick hopping, and Tae Kwan Do— just not team sports. It’s frustrating sometimes for me… but I’ve stopped pressing it— most of the time anyways. Today was a day to press it a little bit. I just feel concerned that 2nd grade is young to be taking on such a “non-sport playing” label, especially for a coordinated kid. What if his friendship options will be limited to kids who don’t play sports? I’m already starting to see that happen for him more and more at school.
For the moment, I let the game of catch go. Right in front of us were four boys (whose sisters were all in the softball game). They were taking running starts down the grassy hill and leaping as far as they could over a big mound of sand and dirt. The boys were getting dirty and having fun. Oh good, more boys Asa’s age, I thought to myself. And they aren’t playing sports; they are just doing what Asa likes to do. “Asa, why don’t you play with those boys? That looks like so much fun. They look like friendly guys just about your age.” Asa did watch them (through his binoculars) and agreed it looked like fun but he didn’t want to join them.