There are a lot of reasons why I feel like a shitty Mom, but there may be no bigger reason than realizing that you have an almost five year old that has no idea how to catch a ball. And to top that off, what made you realize it wasn’t the fact that you, as a mother, thought about how important it is for a child to know how to catch a ball, or that it might even be fun for him. I didn’t even think about it much at all! No, what I thought about in regard to sports or anything sports-related were the following things:
2. I don’t want to buy another ball.
3. The last time we went to the park in order to kick a ball around during my my-kids-don’t-get-enough-exercise kick, it was hell. I ended up chasing Luca across the field while he ran away from me at least eight times, until I got fed up and we left the park.
4. Teaching kids how to do something new requires patience. I don’t have any of that.
5. I’m tired.
6. Me? Totally lazy.
7. I fucking hate sports.
But you know what I remembered last night? I remember that it isn’t about me. This is a rather difficult concept for me to digest, since I am me and I am with me all of the time, so it’s pretty freaking hard to disregard me. I’m all up in my face! However, children were put on this earth just to shatter any ego or image of self that we may have had. So last night, when Rowan had a semi-meltdown because he wasn’t allowed to bounce a particularly hard ball in the house, he started to cry and said, “I’ll never learn how to catch a ball!”
So it seems that I have failed my child in this way, at least.
It isn’t that Rowan lacks confidence as a result of not being able to catch a ball. So far, the temperament he has shown (whether it is a result of us or his own personality will forever remain a mystery) is that of a more contemplative child. Yesterday at school, Rowan was playing with the fox and other plastic animals in the sand table along with some other boys. Later, I said to him, “Rowan, it looks like Billy* played really nicely with you at the sand table today.” Rowan looked up at me and with a look of both shock and thinly veiled disgust said, “Well, Billy doesn’t know anything about animals. He thought a platypus was a beaver!” and did a facepalm.
Some kids catch balls, other kids know about animals. I suppose that there are kids that can do both. Rowan is the kind of kid who, when asked what his favorite animal is, asks, “prehistoric, dinosaur, modern creatures, prehistoric sea creatures, deep sea creatures, or regular sea creatures?” before giving you an answer. He is a student of all living things with scales or fur. Sure, some kids like organized sports or running around, but my kid knows how many tons a liopleurodon weighed and what time period it lived in. He asked for a Xiphias gladius, by name, for Christmas when he was three, and whenever we go on a walk, if we happen to see poop of any kind, he calls it dung and then tries to track the animal that made the dung.
Quick! Time for a poll!!
Last week, when I was parent helper for Rowan’s class, he came in crying, with a boy following him saying, “You’re a liar! There is no such thing as a dimetrodon!” and Rowan whirled around and said, “There is so! There just isn’t a book here with a picture of a dimetrodon in it!” and then he crossed his arms as if to say, this conversation is OVER. So the next day, this came to school with us:
And someone got schooled.
Still, I feel I’ve done Rowan a disservice by not encouraging him to play ball, or by not taking him to tumble time when he was little. One of the biggest reasons I didn’t do that is because I didn’t really want to go to tumble time. You can’t just drop a kid off at tumble time! You have to, like, participate! And on the few occasions I managed to take him to the inflatable-slide-and-jumping-castle place, I spent the entire time going down slides with him because he was so freaked out by the whole thing, and then I was seasick the rest of the day because the movement of those inflated things totally screws with me.
And remember, it’s all about me.
Whenever I have tried to encourage any sort of physical activity, my kids seem to just totally freaking hate it. Rowan has been known to run 6 feet and then sit down saying, “Whew! That really tired me out!” Which has led me to declare to John that our kids are lazy. [Actually, I think he’s quoting his father when he does that. –Ed.] Recently, in a surge of motivation, I started trying to get Luca to catch a ball. He laid down the entire time, and whenever the ball managed to land near his arms, he would cuddle with it. It was both adorable and totally pathetic.
Hey! Sort of like me!
So now I oscillate between feeling like a bad mother for not pushing Rowan toward more physical activity and feeling like if he had showed any interest in it at all, in any way, I would have made it happen for him. All the signs point me in the direction of supporting his intellect, and really, they always have. He has never been interested in the type of activity other boys are interested in. I see kids climbing shit at school that Rowan is just not interested in. At all. And at times I’ve wondered if this is a bad thing. Will he feel as if he can’t keep up with other boys? The teachers even asked me to have his eyes checked, in case, instead of just being apprehensive about crossing planks, he was actually unable to see them clearly. They even mentioned that when kids run toward him, he puts his hands out to protect himself. They thought his depth perception was off, and I thought that would explain a lot! But now that we’ve had his eyes checked and know he has perfect vision, I think, well, he’s just Rowan. He just doesn’t want to cross planks until he’s ready, and he shouldn’t. And I don’t blame the kid for putting up a defense when kids come running at top speed toward him. I would do the same thing! Kids are insane!
I suppose I can’t be all that bad as a mother, since I wrote most of this post while Luca sat on my lap and shoved popcorn into my mouth. And I only yelled at him three times! So, see? Not so bad. I’ll work on teaching Rowan how to catch a ball. Because he asked me to, not because I feel guilty. And I bet you one thing: he’ll learn it because he wants to.
*I totally made the name “Billy” up. Well, not the entire, like, history of the name, just the name in this instance. Sheesh.