“My Story…” Monday: A – Being a Team Player

(You can catch up on A’s story right here: The Pregnancy, The Birth, The Infancy, The Quiet Toddler, Advocating, What He COULD Do, Just A Boy, The (Hard) Next Step, Making a Friend, The Autism DiagnosisHe Talks, Hyperlexia, Your Baby Can Read, Another Evaluation, A New Kind of Special Need, Linear Algebra, The Triennial, The IQ Results, Bye, Bye Autism Diagnosis, Dr. C’s Plan, Second Grade Math, Is it too easy?, A Well-Rounded Child)

 

Two weeks ago, I shared with you all why we think karate is a perfect fit for our A.   It truly has  been a wonderful activity for him and I very much appreciate the whole “compete against yourself” nature of it.  He participates in karate year-round.  It’s only a half-hour, once a week, so it’s not any huge time commitment.

 

While I am a huge advocate of down-time, I also believe very much in carefully selected extracurricular activities.  So, in addition to karate, we’ve been supportive of A’s desire to play little league in the Spring and, just this past year, soccer in the Fall.

Now.  Here’s where I’m going to just lay it on the line and tell you some stuff about ME…

 

There’s a whole lot I don’t like about team sports.  I don’t like the pushy, competitive parents.  I don’t like the overly aggressive, sometimes mean-spirited kids.  I don’t like the grown-ups caught up in KEEPING SCORE during a game among kindergarteners.  Yes, yes, of COURSE I get the idea of learning to be a good sport and losing gracefully.  I just think there are more important fundamental skills to be working on before you even lose your first tooth, know what I mean?  I don’t like some of the language and behaviors to which my child is exposed.  I don’t, quite frankly, enjoy how rude some of the parents are to ME.  I grow weary of somehow allowing myself to be delegated the one in charge of all the little siblings because their own parents are apparently “too busy” (probably keeping score) to make sure their toddlers don’t take flying leaps off the bleachers.

 

So there you go.  I sound like a real advocate for this, eh? ;)  But there’s the truth.  I don’t really enjoy a lot of what goes along with team sports.

 

However.

 

There are a whole lot of important lessons that happen out on those fields.

 

Teamwork and cooperation are vital life skills.  Let’s face it– out in the work-force, most people are required to work with and interact with others.  These will not always be your favorite people, but it’s essential that you figure out how to form the strongest team or unit.  Team sports are a great early lesson in this.  Some kids are strong hitters.  Some have accurate arms.  Some are fast runners.  Some are great at keeping up morale.  Some are organized planners.  Others are spontaneous problem-solvers.  A well-balanced team is a good way of illustrating how the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.

 

I also think that, for our son, it’s beneficial to sort of automatically “fit in”.  Teams provide that.  From their matching jerseys to their desire to see their teammates do well, players on a sports team together are clearly a “group” to which each child belongs.  Since my kiddo is admittedly socially awkward at times, this is a really nice perk for him.  Without having to try very hard, he is part of the pack.  He is accepted.  And, while that might not seem significant, you’ll have to trust me when I say it’s huge.  And it makes my mama-heart very happy.

 

Finally, team sports are a bit humbling for A.  Oh, he does fine.  He’s never the slowest or least athletic on the team, but he’s also not ever the best.  To be honest, his size helps him a lot.  But he’s never going to be known for his speed or his incredible natural talent.  And that’s not only okay, it’s a GOOD thing, in my opinion.  Here’s the thing.  Academically?  At least at this point, no one in his peer group is really challenging A.  That’s just how it is.  He’s the highest level reader in his class and, even in his third grade math class, he’s considered “at the top.”  While not an arrogant kid by nature, he’s told he’s “the best” frequently enough.  Having good self-esteem is great, but it’s also important to realize that no one is perfect and we all have our strengths and weaknesses.

 

When doing a group project in school, it is A. who the kids will lean on.  He will be the cornerstone of many groups and his abilities will be critical for the overall success of the team.  In athletics, he is forced to lean on others.  While his efforts certainly play a role in achieving a successful end result, he most certainly could not do it alone.  I am happy to see him learning this lesson at an early age and handling it with grace.

 

It’s all part of our efforts to encourage the development of a happy, well-rounded individual.

 

Next week, I’ll be back to talking about A’s school programming a little more!

 

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5 comments to “My Story…” Monday: A – Being a Team Player

  • Kelley

    I have to say, the message of the post is a very admirable message. I totally get it and I feel the same way. We are just entering into the age of team sports. I think our 5 year old will play baseball this Spring. While I feel the EXACT same way you do about team sports, I am honoring his interest for the same reasons you stated in this post. You are such a bright, “in tune” lady!

    • Aw, thank you, Kelley. I hope I didn’t come across as too negative or bitter there. There are certainly some nice parents and children at the games, too… it’s just sometimes hard to hear them over the, ahem, more vocal variety. ;)

  • My twin brother and sister are involved in a lot of school sports and I was shocked at how the parents acted at some of the games. I love to cheer for our team but screaming instructions from the stands always seemed a little, um, extreme.

    My sister is so great at athletics but seems to struggle in academics. I’m thankful that kids always have something they’re good at – no two people are the same. Great message!

  • [...] Bye Autism Diagnosis, Dr. C’s Plan, Second Grade Math, Is it too easy?, A Well-Rounded Child, Being a Team Player, The Acceptance of Children, Anti-Social?, The Boy Can TALK!, Gifts for Gifted [...]

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