Mom Twists Ankle (in attempt to change son’s life for the better)

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.


While Asa looked on with his binoculars, Doug took a closer look at the jump, but wants it on the record that not for a second did he even consider risking his limbs for the cause.


I should have left it at that, but there was a part of me that thought I could convince him to join in, and once he did, he’d have such a great time that he’d overcome his shyness or fear of rejection, or whatever it is that stops him from joining in the fun. So I said, “I dare you to go join them.” “Nope.” At this point, Asa’s dad, Doug, who knew exactly what was happening, chimed in with an offer to replace Asa’s broken archery arrow if he gave the jump a try. Still no budging. “Well then, do you dare me, Ace?” “Yeah, Mom… actually, no Mom. Actually, I don’t care, Mom.” “Ok, I’m going.” I got up and casually walked over to the boys to ask if I could join in their game. Talk about the least intimidating, most friendly kids ever, they immediately gave me a tour of the whole territory: the “diving board” drawn onto the top of the mound and the area to clear when you jump. What the heck, I took a running leap and jumped! I landed right in the middle of the sand. Very unimpressive jump. I’d have to try again. I motioned to Asa to come join me. He shook his head. Round 2 I went further, more self assured this time. But this was to be my last jump, I landed awkwardly and felt a pull in my ankle. Wah Wah Wah Waaaaaaah. I slinked (or rather limped) back to my seat on the grass, as subtly as I could pull off — but not before I made one last ditch effort and quietly asked the sweetest boy in the pack if he would invite Asa to play with them. He did, and right away! I heard Asa mutter, “No, thanks” as I came back to my spot, and we were back where we started– except for the swollen ankle. I think my face must have looked like Ani’s when she dropped the fly ball. As I sat back down to catch the end of the softball game, Doug whispered in my ear, “Stop trying so hard.” Of course he’s right. When Asa was 2, I was so supportive of who he was that I created the Handsome in Pink line of t-shirts just for him. Now, admittedly, I was trying hard then too, but perhaps was more supportive of Asa’s interests. Now our pink boy is 8 and I need to accept that he is the kind of kid who more often than not says no to playing ball, and feels shy about jumping over mounds of dirt with kids he doesn’t know.  I know I should just let him be. He’s a boy who likes to watch the action from afar with binoculars, who feels safest playing games in the comfort of a cell phone. It’s hard because I have these ideas of what a child should be doing, and it doesn’t always align with what hewants to be doing. I always want to be helping him fly a little bit higher. Well, the ankle ought to keep us on the ground, at least for another week or two.

Write a comment

Comments: 7
  • #1

    Cindy (Friday, 14 March 2014 15:27)

    Gorgeously written, Jo. And such an always-relevent piece of advice for all of us parents! ~Cindy

  • #2

    Binkley (Friday, 14 March 2014 15:32)

    wow…so well-written..i am smiling at my desk happy that i took a 10 minute break from a spreadsheet. (though not happy about that ankle!!!) thanks for sharing…i will file this in my noggin for when the time comes with 4 year old abby… however, i think it may already be here. :-) this hit pretty close to home, sister…thanks for articulating perfectly, a perfectly perfect “parent moment” reminding the rest of us how good it is to be introspective-with a side of humor, of course. :-)

  • #3

    Amy (Friday, 14 March 2014 15:34)

    Hi Jo! What a great read, even for someone without kids. I think my husband was a bit like Asa as a kid and will LOVE to read this piece. Thanks!

  • #4

    Sarah (Friday, 14 March 2014 15:34)

    Really a lovely article. I have to say, I was painfully and unusually shy as a child — and still deal with it as an adult. Some people are less comfortable in the presence of other humans! it is just the way it is. (You all make us so nervous!) My dad was/is like that too, but it doesn’t make us incapable of enjoying life, having close friends, and being happy people! :c)

  • #5

    Tracy (Friday, 14 March 2014 15:35)

    For the record, that hill was MUCH steeper than it looks in this picture :-)

    Great post, Jo. I bet 90 percent of the distance runners and cyclists I know were like Asa at his age. They enjoy “solo” sports, but eventually find community among other soloists…

  • #6

    Ree (Friday, 14 March 2014 15:36)

    Awesome Jo! What a great story. Sorry that I won’t be seeing you in boot camp too soon. Kaia also sprained her ankle yesterday. Lots of ice and Arnica…

  • #7

    Monique (Friday, 14 March 2014 15:37)

    Lol!! I love it! It sounds exactly like something I would do!

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