Getting my kid off the couch

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared on, a social networking site for women in Colorado.

Let me start with this: My son makes my world go round. He is my first born, my only boy and my fiercest protector.

He is 7 (going on 16) and sometimes he looks at me with those little-boy eyes and I truly believe anything is possible.

You’d like him.

My son is also content to be at rest, to remain at rest, to break a sweat only when forced and to otherwise play peacefully with his G.I. Joe action figures, watch a little television, play some Nintendo DS, complete the day’s required 30 minutes of reading, eat, sleep and … well, repeat.

Ask the kid if he wants to go exploring after school (parental code word for “hiking”), or to the Dinosaur Museum, the library or the rec center and get a response akin to one I’d expect if I’d just asked him to clean his room, take out the trash, do the laundry or eat Brussels sprouts.

Before we moved to Western Colorado last year, this kid was in competitive gymnastics. And he was good. Twice a week, he’d practice with this team for an hour, and in the spring, he had competitions on the weekends.

The kid knew how to do back hip circles on the high bar and routines on the rings and parallel bars. He could hold himself up on the pommel horse and whip his legs around that thing like it was nobody’s business. He knew how to sprint and jump on the vault, all while sticking the landing.

He knew how to earn medals, and how to make his mom proud. (She is still proud, of course).

So when we moved, we tried out the one gym that offers boys gymnastics, a recreational program. Neither of us liked it. We tried out the other gym (where my 3-year-old daughter takes gymnastics and loves it), but they don’t even offer a boys recreational program, only a boys “fitness” class. Huh.

Needless to say, we needed a new activity for the boy.

What about dance, I said? You would have thought I’d suggested he dress up like a girl and go to school that way.

Swimming? Basketball? Wrestling? Piano? Drums (that’s active, right?)?


No way, Jose, the kid said.

Why not? I asked. I pleaded. I got angry. I stayed calm. I reasoned. I threatened. I’m desperate for him to have something, anything, that gets him involved, that gets him active, that gets him off his bedroom floor.

So I signed him up for soccer.

Against his will and with many tears involved (his, not mine).

Inside, I know the reason my son is reluctant to try a new activity is because he’s scared. He’s never played soccer – or basketball or piano or drums or anything (word to the wise here, moms of boys who think gymnastics should be the activity of choice for their kindergartner, maybe consider doubling up with a more traditional sport as well) – so he doesn’t know how. And if he doesn’t know how and the other kids do, my son expects to be embarrassed.

And I hate that. I’m that mom who, if she could, would accompany her child everywhere for the rest of his life just to make sure he’s OK. To make sure he’s not cold or hungry or hurt, that he has a friend, that he remembers to turn in his homework, that he’s not left out at recess. To throw that ball back at that kid who just pommeled hers in dodge ball in P.E.

But this mom signed her son up for soccer anyway, and practices start next month. Here’s hoping for swift learning, a brave heart, a fun coach and kind teammates.

He’s already got supportive parents.


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