The boys started football right after Thanksgiving. It is absolutely hilarious to watch a bunch of 4 and 5 year olds attempt to play flag football. They are enjoying it tremendously, as well as most of the parents.
I did it for the simple exercise and exhaustion option. It is really hard to keep them active during the winter months and having them cooped up all day makes us crazy. One of the mothers of a boy in their old preschool sent it to me and I just figured I’d sign them up for something to do. Skill acquisition is just bonus at this point – they are exhausted when they get home and they sleep really well for the whole week. It helps me stay connected with some of the moms from their old school and they get to keep in touch with a bunch of the boys that they will be going to kindergarten with next year. Win-win all around, as far as I’m concerned.
While I would love for them to grow up to be great NFL quarterbacks, I’ll be happy if they just play for a little bit. That being said, I’m skeptical that football is part of their future, especially for Will. Of course, they’re only four, so who knows, but it is one of those moments where I am forced to be totally honest with myself. The coordination that football takes is just a bit beyond him right now, plus his focus is lacking. This doesn’t really make him all that different from the other four-year olds out there, I know.
Which brings me to my next point – and I’d love for you to weigh in with an opinion, as I am completely torn on this one. I’ve written before about the comments I get from people telling me they can’t tell that Will has an autism spectrum disorder. I wish somehow that made my job as his mother a bit easier. In fact I think it makes it harder. When he is out on the football field, I can tell when he is on sensory overload or that he is struggling with balance and coordination. I can also tell that he loves it immensely and doesn’t care about the other stuff – the hand flapping gives it away. I can tell because I know. I sometimes wonder what others see – I don’t care, I just wonder.
One of the coaches is female and Will has taken a significant liking to her. She has taken a bit of a liking to him, too, providing him with just a tiny extra bit of attention and prompting to get him through his practices. Last night I pulled her aside to thank her for that and for her patience with him. And I told her he was on the spectrum – which she promptly told me she had already figured out. Okay, I love you because you’re a girl who loves football and because you have awareness and understanding. Did I need to tell her? Does it matter in the end, if he is having all the fun in the world and has a crush on his coach?
If I tell people, I feel like it gives them some insight into his quirkiness. But if I don’t tell them, and they take the time, then his quirkiness would give them insight into him. When he was first diagnosed, a friend who has a grown son on the spectrum told me “Deirdre, all the angst is in your head, not his. In fact, it doesn’t bother him in the least.” So true on this one – I’m sure I am far more worried about it than he is right now. It reminds me of a famous quote from Dr. Seuss – “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”