It has finally come to me that despite his amazing athleticism and my clear joy in spectatorship, Mr. Ornery appears to be little interested in organized sports. At 18 months of age, his day care teachers remarked at his persistence in shooting basketballs into the miniature plastic hoop. At 4 years of age, I strapped on ice skates and he took off across the ice with me stumbling in awe behind him. Put him in shoes, in skates, in skis, on wheels and he just goes. Give him a ball, a bat, a glove, a stick and he gets it.
In his short 8 years (well, four really when you consider that he didn’t start until age four), this boy has done sports! He has played more seasons of soccer than he cares to have joined. (“But, Mom, I didn’t sign up for soccer,” he whined one evening last Spring as we drove to practice. Evil grin from the driver’s seat.) He has played basketball for the past three winters. He tried ice hockey for a year and decided to “retire” shortly after I sunk money into the “travel bag” to carry all the gear that I had already sunk money into! He played a season of flag football. He was fast. He can run. But he didn’t care to catch the ball. He tried baseball last Spring. His coach was amazed that it was his first time ever as he caught, threw and hit with ease. “Yep,” I said, “I bought him a glove a week before the first practice.”
Scattered in all that was two years of gymnastics, getting to the point of twice-a-week practice to look toward competitive gymnastics, but he was not interested. He joined his brother and cousins in karate for a few months, but had no stamina for working toward a hierarchy of colored belts. He was on the swim team last summer and has a beautiful stroke, but doesn’t care to show any speed. We even tried a session of water polo, but for a little seven-year-old, treading water in the deep end of the high school swimming pool was a bit too exhausting.
But look him in the eye and ask Mr. Ornery what’s his favorite sport and he’ll say, “I’m going to be a BMX biker when I grow up.”
Mind you, I love watching all my boys play sports. I happily drive them to practice after practice. I put money into sign-ups, equipment, and Gatorade and tons and tons of mileage. I want to expose them to as many sports as I can (okay, I probably didn’t need to do all of the above in 4 years I realize now as I list them!). My hope is that one day when they are on the college campus and someone yells out to them, “Dude, want to join us for a quick game of …?” they will actually know how to play that … and jump right in. (Golf, we need to do golf. And tennis and rowing and cross-country….)
But Mr. Ornery has other ideas. He’s a round peg. He wants round things under his feet. He glides with ease and flies to the top of ramps on a small BMX bike. He is working on how to do an Ollie on a skateboard (see what I’m learning?). He just learned how to “drop in” on a scooter from an older kid at the skate park. He’s watching YouTube videos of people biking and skating and scootering. He’s begging me to take him to the indoor bike park several times a month and rates their one-week bike camp as the best week ever. He cajoles the babysitter into taking him and the Little Guy to a nearby skate park as often as he can (though her rule is that they leave when the teen mass enlarges towards the evening and the language gets more and more foul).
And, Mr. Ornery has spent this entire weekend creating his own miniature skate park in his bedroom after spending his allowance on “fingertip” skate boards and torturing me with the world’s smallest nuts and bolts to put together a Tech Deck. (That’s the towel rack from the bathroom, by the way. Sigh.)
Give me a sport that I can understand and cheer for and I am happy. Put wheels under Mr. Ornery and he is in heaven. He’s a round peg. He doesn’t care for my square holes. But we are learning to compromise. He keeps up a sport to garner the lessons of persistence, sportsmanship, listening to a coach, and working towards a goal as a team. I keep the bike tires pumped up, the peanut butter and jelly sandwiches packed for a quick snack, and the back of the van loaded with two BMX bikes, two scooters, two skateboards and two helmets at all times (naturally, the Little Guy is following right along).
And, I keep the prayers flowing as I watch him soar, hoping for soft landings.
Love my round peg. (And…. he’d love you to “subscribe” to his video. It matters to an 8-year-old, apparently 😊).