Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Perspective Makes All The Difference

Every year, it’s the same battle.

A battle with the school, to make sure his 504 Plan is reevaluated and updated. A battle with the teachers, to hold them accountable for following his 504 Plan. A battle with Bug, to actually do the homework we’ve gotten accommodations for.

Then compound all of that with sports.

Every year, it’s been a lot of the same thing. At the beginning of each season, I meet with his coaches and explain what makes Bug…Bug. I offer advice on what works best, and what doesn’t, in keeping him calm and upbeat. I give each coach a run-down on the physical signs to watch for, in order to better ward off the emotional breakdown that follows each one.

This year, though? This year is going to be different.

For starters, Bug told me at the beginning of the school year that he didn’t want to use his 504 Plan this year. And although he wasn’t able to convince me to give the thing up entirely, he did make some valid contributions to this year’s modifications. When pressed for why he didn’t want to use it? He’s just tired of being treated differently. He wants so badly to fit in, just the way he is.

Now, I would like to say that I’m such a fabulous mother that I instantly realized that I should apply that same logic to baseball. However, apparently I’m a little bit slower than instant.

Bug IS on a new baseball team. We’ve known the coach and a couple of the boys for some years now, and we’ve always been impressed. This coach is amazing, and has a definite affinity for working with young athletes. Plus, he lives and breathes baseball, so he knows what he’s talking about when he directs them. So when an opportunity came up for Bug to try out for this team, we jumped at it. And Bug made the team. (This is where my new found knowledge would have kicked in. You know, had I actually been able to claim it.) As I said, we already knew this coach. So there was no need for the “conversation”. We didn’t need to give him any pointers; he knows my kid well.

So I sat back, and watched. Watched how Bug interacted with the other boys on the team, and how they interacted back. Watched how he played, and how he handled himself when something in the game wasn’t going his way. And even though I could see how well he was doing, how much his self-esteem had improved, how much greater his self-control had gotten…well, it wasn’t until he made this comment to me that things started to click in my head.

Mom, you know why I like this team so much? I fit in. Just the way I am; I fit in. No one is pushing me to see how far they can go before I lose it, and they all just encourage me. I fit, Mom.

And yes, I cried at that.

But my true A-ha! moment came last night. Bug had been called by another team in our club, and asked to fill in for one game. The manager of this team has also known Bug for years. The difference, though, is that ALL of the other boys on the team have also known Bug for years. Which means they’ve all witnessed at least one very public meltdown during a game. The significance of that finally sunk in last night. Or, more accurately, the significance of the fact that almost NONE of the boys on his actual team had ever met him before August.

In a normal game, each of Bug’s teammates can be heard at various times in the game cheering him on or shouting some kind of encouragement; all based on that game’s performance and how awesome they all believe him to be. Last night was different. Oh, the boys on that team all encouraged him, it was just…not the same. Last night was more like how I used to encourage him when he was younger. “Keep your head up! Don’t let it get you down!”

It occurred to me last night that maybe one of the biggest reasons he’s doing so well on this new team and making such strides in mastering his self-control? Is that not one person on that field is waiting for him to fail.

They’re excited about watching him succeed.


Big Mark 243 said...

That is what makes sports the medium it is for many boys to find themselves. I think boxing did more than just provide me with a vocation as it helped me establish my character. Not going to say that it does the same for everyone, but sports give so much to so many in ways besides playing a game. It teaches one about life and doing the best you can with what you have and in doing that, you have done more than enough...

Burgh Baby said...

It's amazing how kids excel when they get a "fresh start." AMAZING.

I Am Boymom said...

It's a remarkable thing when one of our boys finds their place in the world. It's even more remarkable when we as moms are able to recognize the importance of that moment. You, my dear, are an amazingly insightful mother, which is why I love to read your posts.