Sure, I agree
with author Kerry Foreman that we shouldn't assume all boys play or enjoy
watching sports. Still, she was missing one crucial aspect of sports in her argument—it
keeps kids moving.
I, like Foreman, have a very smart boy in my house.
Actually, I have two brilliant kids, but my oldest is particularly like Foreman's
son. He loves doing puzzles, reading books and building impossible
contraptions with his Legos. He's empathetic towards others, curious about how
things work and will never stop asking "why?" (At least, I hope.)
My son is what I like
to call a "puzzle kid." He can sit still longer than many of his peers and
concentrate on one task, but this doesn't mean he should always be sitting
still. My youngest on the other hand needs to move his body. I'm already anticipating a few behavioral issues next year in kindergarten. He just
doesn't want to sit still. Truthfully, his even-tempered big brother has to blow off
some steam after sitting for so long, too.
So, we play sports.
Do I push my boys
into it? No. If they want to stop playing a team sport one day will I let them?
Yes, but with one caveat: They have to pick one activity to do instead that
involves moving their bodies.
I was really, really awful. I'm sure my coach was happy to see me go. My parents let me quit with no questions.
As a child I was not encouraged to play sports. I wasn't
discouraged, but my parents took the lead from me instead of pointing me
towards an active life.
I decided I wanted to play softball? Fine, my parents signed me up. I
played two seasons, and I stunk the whole time. I mean, I was really, really awful. I'm sure my
coach was happy to see me go. My parents let me quit with no questions.
Swim, play tennis or run around the block. Encourage your children—even smart bookish sons!—to keep moving.
Next, I wanted
to join the high school swim team at school. Great, go for it! I lasted one season
before I was overwhelmed by after-school practices, clubs and homework. I was
allowed to quit that too, really any sports whenever I wanted to. But never academics.
This has left a void in me as an adult. Although my mind is strong, my body is weak. I
was naturally thin as a kid. But after two babies, I can tell you my metabolism
is shot, and I really have to work to keep my figure. Not easy when that pack of
mint Oreos is calling my name.
Right now, I'm training for my first half-marathon, having
never been a runner. I wish my parents had pushed me more athletically. I hung
out with all of the athletes in school, but I couldn't run a mile to save my
life. Looking at my boys, I won't let that happen.
Kids need to move their bodies, whether it is through
organized sports or not. You and your child need to commit to bike rides, hikes,
swimming laps at the local pool in the morning or jogs around the block after
school each day before homework and dinner.
Or sign your sons and daughters up for salsa classes, so they can impress their friend at the school dance, I don't care. Just never, ever tell them that it's OK not to be regularly active in some way.
Swim, play tennis or run around the block. Encourage your children—even smart bookish sons!—to keep moving. Get him an audiobook to help him run if he just wants to sit
around reading all day, but don't let him be a lump on a log working his brain,
but not his body.