I’ve been a little nervous lately, actually I’ve been nervous ever since I clicked submit on the online registration for the local community education basketball program a few weeks ago. Whenever I think of what’s to come, my stomach gets cold and tight.
Did I make a mistake?
Is he going to flip out?
Is this too much too fast?
What if he hates it?
I have a deep fear of him having horrible childhood memories. Scars from things I made him try or attend.
But then I remember – he did baseball, and he liked it. He tried soccer, and even though he didn’t like it as much as baseball, he kept at it.
Then I remember those were programs for children with special needs, this will not be, and my stomach clenches again.
This will be typical children with typical families. Parents that know nothing about how different some children can be, and how to talk to their own children about accepting differences.
Some parents will not judge, but I know that many will. It’s so easy to judge what you don’t know, what looks like bad parenting, or bratty behavior.
Some will have patience, many will not.
Some will be compassionate, many will not.
Some parents are letting their kids try it out, maybe they signed them up, or maybe the kids asked to join.
The kids are in 1st grade, it’s not competitive sports…yet. I know that some parents will competitive, but I hope most are not. It should be about fun at this age, I know that the fun mentality is fading fast from the “my kid is so advanced” generation. (I used to hate those words stringed together in that order, oh wait, I still do.)
It’s when I think of these things that my stomach clenches and I worry about the Roc. How he will handle it all.
But then I remember that on the morning of the last day to sign up for the cheaper price, (hey, $5 is $5) while the Roc was taking his daily morning bath (don’t eff with morning or bedtime routines around here people, sacred ground) I sat down in the bathroom to talk to him. I needed to know what he really thought before he left for school. I had waited to the last moment to ask the question for real, after bouncing it off my autism mama friends and after asking myself many times if I should even make this attempt. Rather, if I should have the Roc make this attempt.
I told him that there would be practices once a week and a game on the weekend. That the practices would be in a large gymnasium with lots of kids, all bouncing basketballs, shooting, tossing to each other, and shouting. The parents would be there too, watching, possibly clapping and cheering. That it would be loud, with lots of movement, and I kind of choked saying the words, waiting for him to speak. I said the games would be similar to the practices but there would definitely be lots of clapping and cheering, but it would be possible for him to sit on the bench and not play. To watch if that was what worked for him.
He stared at me over the bubbles. I wondered what was going to come out, if he was going to answer my question, or start up his monologue about waterfalls and birthday parties. After a long pause he spoke.
“Well, I go to gym class and all the kids bounce balls and run and yell and I got used to that….so I think I will get used to basketball too,” the Roc said to me.
I leaned back, feeling that familiar prickling behind my eyes, and found that I couldn’t speak.
Then he said, “I think I would like practice, but could I maybe sit out during the games? And don’t sit far away or up high on the bleachers okay? I want to be able to see you.”
“Sounds good Roc, I’m going to sign you up today okay?” I told him.
“Okay Mommy,” the Roc said before launching into his favorite questions about the water slide we got for his birthday party this summer.
Later that morning, after he got on the van, I completed the registration online, filled in my credit card information, and clicked submit. Then I wrote to my mama friends, a “holy shit, I just signed the Roc up for basketball, my heart is racing,” kind of thing. I got the love I needed and the advice to ease him into it and I remembered my friend Carrie’s wise words that success looks different for our kids and that’s okay. It’s okay if he doesn’t want to play, if we spend a lot of time watching. Whatever works for him, if he can be a part of it, because he wants to, that’s success.
Now, whenever I feel that cold tightness taking hold, causing me to doubt myself and the Roc, I think of this conversation. I gave him a choice and this is what he chose. He wants to try, and I need to give him lots of credit for that. It may not work out, I am preparing myself for that, but I am also preparing myself for him to be successful, however that looks for him. In the words of my mama friend Jess,
“We prepped as though we knew it would work, because we knew that it *could*.”
All I know for sure right now is the Roc loves basketball and he wants to try.
Tonight we go to pick up his schedule, roster and basketball jersey.
The kickoff is on Saturday.
A big “too be continued….”