My Son Will Never be a Super Jock and That’s Okay

I haven’t blogged anything since March and now that school is out, I have been waiting to come up with a decent topic whether school-related or not.  It dawned on me a couple nights ago, after my son (age 7) was getting ready for bed and asked, “Mom, what’s a black hole?” what my next topic would be: my son.

My son has shown interest in different occupations over the last couple of years whether that be an astronaut, race car driver, scuba diver, etc. but at some point during his 1st grade year, he offered up an idea that was not only realistic but broad enough that it could honestly encompass the majority of his previous ideas, “Scientist”.  He loves Science.  I am thrilled.  When I drive by baseball fields and see parents coaching from the bleachers for their marathon of t-ball, slow-pitch, and fast pitch tournaments (yep, they already do tournaments the summer before 2nd grade) I don’t envy them or feel deprived that my son decided after a couple of summers he’d rather not play baseball.  

My son tried out soccer and baseball; it was something we thought he should at least try for socialization and to work on motor skills, which fortunately did happen.  This is what he also remembers from it: lots of parents yelling, lots of kids crying, lots of mass chaos.  My child was more interested in the type of airplane that just flew over the field than if the bases were loaded.  Luckily, the parents on my son’s team last summer (I couldn’t always say this about the parents on the opposing teams) were pretty laid back and supportive, recognizing that all these soon-to-be-first-graders were incredibly awkward, even their child, in their own way.  Only one dad helicoptered and his attendance wasn’t consistent so that helped, but when I discovered that this summer tournaments would start I knew we were only going to continue if my son genuinely wanted to do it and guess what?  His interests have strayed to something he enjoys more.  Science.

Since he loves Science, he approached us about Cub Scouts. I had my reservations based on the national news reports of this organization, but I decided as long as his leaders were of sound character we’d support his interests. He loves it!  The first night the leader explained they’d be doing a nature walk (the boys chose to run) around a nearby lake, and you would of thought my child was going to Disney World.  Everything he does within this organization is almost related to hands-on/Science activities and he feels comfortable.  

He’s taking private swimming lessons this summer and has asked about what he needs to do to race/compete for medals.  When I explained he’d have to swim the whole length of the pool, be able to dive off the edge, etc he turned into this fish and is accomplishing a lot in the pool.  Does this mean I might end up having a calendar full of swim meets rather than baseball games to attend?  Maybe.  And I would be very supportive as long as my child was enjoying himself.  Did I pay for private swimming lessons so my son could be the next Michael Phelps?  No.  I wanted my extremely-tall-for-his-age son who can now ride on all of the water slides, and can no longer contain his excitement for being tall enough to do so, to not sink to the bottom of the pool and the fastest way to do that was one-on-one instruction.

When I was in elementary school and we were asked what you wanted to be when you grew up I remember 90% of the boys stating they wanted to be a professional athlete…and none of them are.  I think sports are great for kids, and if it helps you pay for college, I say, go for it.  I am a Husker fan and I attended UNL.  I saw first hand what some of my classmates/neighbors had to go through to meet the requirements of their sports commitments and maintain a decent GPA. What I’m trying to communicate is: I just hope parents aren’t only fostering the athletics but the academics too.  And I don’t just mean telling your child, “Go study” or “We don’t accept anything less than a “B” in this house.”  I really hope you’re setting aside the same amount of family time talking about academic topics as you do sitting in a lawn chair cheering your child on at a sporting event.  

I didn’t come to this realization on my own.  My son has done that for us.  I’ve become a student again.  I didn’t have a passion for Science as a kid.  When Eli asked me, “Mom, what’s a black hole?”  I knew a little, but it forced us to research together the correct facts and answers to his great question.  We both learned a lot.  Conversations at the dinner table or car rides usually involve topics like:new planets being discovered in our galaxy, the engineering that went into building that structure we just passed, etc.  Do we still talk about “regular” topics too?  Yes, my son can bring up Saturn’s rings and quote Sponge Bob in the same sentence.  I in no way assume I gave birth to the reincarnated Albert Einstein, but my son knows that we support his interests.  Will I be crushed if next week my son decides he wants to be something else instead of a scientist?  Not at all, but I do know that if he never wears a jersey, but rather tries his personal best in whatever he enjoys while still being a person of sound character, then that’s wonderful.



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