My utility room at home contains a washing machine that is constantly on, a tumble dryer that is slowly creating its very own expensive carbon footprint, and also a corner dedicated to my eldest son’s discarded outdoor play pursuits! This includes a football, a golf club, a tennis racket, a scooter, and if I had not been so disorganised last term they would all be nestled on top of a karate kit! These items block the back of the door, and with each forced entry into the utility room I am reminded that my son just isn’t interested in sport, or any form of competitive physical play.
Before school each morning we arrive early enough to let him run around the playground. He will habitually play on all the apparatus and takes great delight in showing me (every morning) a secret opening in the bushes that has become his house. This house has its very own burglar alarm (a tree branch that you press down before entry), a sofa (a tree stump) and even a balcony which is a low wall that backs onto the football courts down below. It is here that a familiar group of boys from his year group play football before the morning bell.
I’ve often asked my son if he would like to join in, but this is always answered with a definite no and he continues with his imaginative play. He just isn’t interested and never has been during his short 6 years of life.
Naturally, as parents we have tried to expose our son to as many external activities as possible to discover what his passions are outside of the school curriculum. We tried football both in and outside of school, but he was more interested in what was lurking in the grass than the ball rolling on top of it. We tried golf, which I will add he was excellent at, but he had such hysterical fits before each lesson that I actually thought his lungs might burst. We have travelled to parks, helmet and plasters at the ready with his scooter, but he would much rather use the ramps as a launch pad for his superhero moves and best flying impressions. The only activity that we have firmly committed to is swimming, because whilst it is a sport and can most certainly be competitive it is also an essential life skill. However swimming is where it starts and stops with my son’s sporting interests.
As to be expected his lack of enthusiasm for sport has changed who he interacts with at school.He has always had a wide selection of friends, some that have been established from as young as 3 when he first started in pre-school. These friendships are naturally changing as each child explores their interests at playtime.
Sometimes on the way home from school we discuss who he has played with that day, and if I ask my son why he hasn’t played with a particular child for a while, it is always met with the stock answer, “They play football at break time.” Whilst it is sad that he doesn’t play with some of his old friends, I am pleased that he knows his own mind and is happy with the games and people he does play with.
As a mummy I will encourage my son to explore all of his interests, and I won’t ever deter him from doing something just because it doesn’t fit the mould. I’m pretty confident Ed Sheeran’s mum and dad didn’t dismiss his passion for music and thrust a ball under his nose every time he went to lift up the piano lid! Besides which, I will have fewer grass stains to get out of my son’s clothes!!