My husband comes from a family that loves football and he loves all things sports. I too come from a family that is very sports focused. As far as our dating and marriage goes this is a great thing. We enjoy watching football together, we play catch with a bunch of different sports equipment, and my husband has a wife he can talk sports too because I can usually keep up.
However, you may have noticed now that I’ve mentioned this, that there is a huge lacking of team sports when it comes to our children. Our middle child tried wrestling, and our local wrestling club is a freaking joke- filled with bullies from all aspects; coaches, assistants, kids, parents… you get the picture. We are raising our children to not be bullies and to not keep close acquaintances with that type. Basically wrestling around this town doesn’t fit our family standards.
My boys tried Korean Karate, and that wasn’t a great fit. Now my middle child and daughter are trying Lion’s Karate and my middle child has really taken to it while my daughter mostly like to lay on the floor and spin like a star unless they give her a weapon to wack people with, which is kinda cool in a scary way…
All three kiddos have been put in swim lessons and our oldest has really taken to it, enjoys learning the techniques, has fun with his peers, and loves making cannonballs off the diving board.
None of these are really team sports. I don’t mind, I want my kids to find things they love and keeps them physically active. But my sweet husband’s heart is hoping one of our offspring will fall in love with lacrosse, basketball or football… Something that involves teamwork.
So football camp was announced and my husband started asking the boys if they might be interested. Don’t worry, our daughter is very interested and is counting down the days until she is in 2nd grade and can collect her football equipment, get her football t-shirt and start tackling some youngsters who didn’t even see her coming.
But for now our two sons said they would give it a go and my husband and I were honestly surprised. You see, our oldest has a natural gift for catching and throwing a football, however his autism usually keeps him from sticking around to actually learn any technique when it comes to throwing or catching sports balls. Then our middle child runs in with all his might, isn’t the best at catching or throwing… anything… and then doesn’t have the attention span to keep with us long enough to learn how to participate in any sport involving a sports ball.
But the boys said they wanted to try football camp, so we signed up one, and asked if our autistic son could give it a go. Our typical child kept up, followed the stretching, followed the drills, bounced around with the other boys his age, earned the t-shirt and is excited to start actual football practice in a few weeks.
Autism and football camp didn’t mesh quite as well. The coaches were enthusiastic to have our son there… But they were loud and they talked way too fast. Some of the kids recognized Mr. L from school and were excited to see him… But there were just too many kids running around chaotically. The social rules were new, the amount of kids squished onto the football field was overwhelming, the sun was unbearably hot, and the tipping point was the turf. The grass was not grass like it was supposed to be. And that was a big fat nope.
Mr. L had got in line with the other boys to do warm ups, and had even completed them. But when they broke into groups by grade and his Mr. C had to go off with other kids, it was all too much. Mr. L called it quits.
I sat with him on the team bench, we talked about all the things that were happening, a few coaches tried to encourage our son to give it another go, and Mr. L used his words to explain that football camp just wasn’t for him. In fact he explained that bowling was a perfectly good sport and that he was meant to do that instead… Which was news to me! But who knows, maybe he will try that next.
But anyways, I feel like I messed up. I feel like we shouldn’t have left him out on the field to keep up with his peers. I feel like we should have asked if he could stay with his brother. I feel like I should have stayed by his side. Sure people would have called me a helicopter parent, and sure people would have been wondering why a mom was wandering around the football field.
But guess what, I am so passed that, that I don’t even care anymore. My son’s needs come before what random strangers think, and I don’t care how it looks to people who don’t know. But I didn’t know. I had never been to football camp before. I didn’t know what it would look like or what they were going to do. I guess Mr. L could have sat out the first day and watched his brother Mr. C run through the drills. But I didn’t know.
Maybe Mr. L will try again next year, maybe he won’t. But he tried this year and that was pretty cool. As parents my husband and I must be doing something right, by the fact that our autistic son wanted to try something new when he didn’t even know what it was going to look like. Mr. L had given it a go without a social story or a YouTube review first, and I think that makes him brave and pretty cool. Also, I’m sorry the fake football grass was a lie, I should have explained that beforehand also.