Bug wants to play football this year. Contact football. Why? Because he wants to "smash into things." He doesn't want to hurt anyone. He just has an overwhelming urge to run into shit. I feel him. If we could fit a football training sled in the backyard, we'd have one. I could stand on it, and Bug could push me back and forth across the yard.
Because Bug is a self-aware dude, with that Aspie honesty, he is being wholly truthful when he says he wants to run into stuff. He has no desire to throw or catch the football. He knows that many positions in football never touch the ball. So, why should he need to. He knows that the weight he gained this past year (thanks to medication he was taking for Tourette Syndrome) makes it hard for him to run for prolonged periods. Bug also knows he is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to knock over. His centered stance is impressive. He is a rock-solid base, folks.
We are fortunate to live in an area that has two youth football leagues. One is what I would call the Glory Days League, catering to those dads who warmed the bench in high school or never made the team. They are uber competitive, live through their kids, and see nothing wrong with acting like toddlers if they don't get their way. Not my idea of fun nor the right fit for Bug.
The other league was created to address the problems of the Glory Days League. Parents are prohibited from behaving like toddlers, all kids get to play, and the tone is one of team work and fun, not an extension of parental egos.
In an effort to give Bug some pre-season exposure to football, we signed him up for a camp at the local recreation department. The camp was supposed to split the kids up into groups by age and position, and teach them the game.
When we got to camp this morning for Day 1, Bug was unsure of how this was all going to work. Transitions are not his strong suit, not most Aspie's strong suit, and the fact that camp starts at 9am wasn't helping. Bug is also not a morning person. I am not a morning person. (My BlogHer buds decided we'd rename it mourning. I like that. It makes a shitload of sense to me.)
After some reassurance that we would just go check it out, see what it was like, and that I would stick around, Bug agreed to give it a try. I signed him in with Teen Helper Girl who was manning the registration table. A mound of tiny t-shirts was piled on top of the table. Kids who had already checked in were wearing the tiny t-shirts to create that uniformity we so love in team sports. It also helps ID any camp escapees.
Teen Helper Girl told me they had run out of adult-sized tees, but had ordered more. She said Bug was welcome to try one of the child-sized tees or just wear a stick-on name tag. Bug opted for the name tag.
Just then, Coach approached and snatched one of the child-sized tees to hold up to Bug. "They won't shrink, you know. They're a 50/50 blend," he says as he stretches the tiny shirt across Bug's back, trying to demonstrate how it would fit.
"No thanks," I said.
"Well, we really underestimated how big these kids would be," said Coach.
"Yes, well that shirt isn't wide enough or long enough, but thank you," I answered, thinking to myself, Are you high or blind, Coach?
"Are you sure? He could try it," offered Coach.
"Um, no. Putting him in a tiny t-shirt will not work, but thanks," I replied.
At 9am I just don't have it in me to explain sensory issues, or transition difficulties, or medications that cause weight gain, or the whole host of reasons why my reluctant son would not be squeezing his torso into that tiny tee shirt.
After coaxing Bug into putting on his cleats, I told him I'd stick around. He agreed to go out and give it a try. In the old days, I would have pushed harder, given him less leeway to make these choices for himself. But, he's not just getting older, he's a person. I am learning to respect that my values are not always his values. I am learning that my goals are not always his goals. I am learning that it's okay when he says, after an hour of trying something new, to let him decide he's done for the day. He knows himself well. I am learning to respect that.
We may go back tomorrow. We may not. It will be his choice. He will decide, I will support him, and we will continue to teach each other how to be in this world.