When I got my second call from Brevitt’s teacher, in a three day span, I hung up the phone and had to think for a few moments. Almost ten, Brevitt is becoming a calmer and less anxious boy and is learning how to respect authority. So why was he getting into trouble? I could understand the teacher’s fear that energetic Brevitt and his pack of friends were going to be the bain of his existence for yet another year but I felt the need to tell him to give Brevitt a chance and to practice patience in the first week when the kids are all so excited to reconnect with their buddies and start a new year of learning.
In Raising Cain, an incredible study on boys, Dan Kindlon and Michael Thompson stress that parents and teachers need to learn how to accept the high activity levels of boys and give them safe boy places to express it. “Many parents of boys do embrace the physicality of boys… some do not. Most teachers of boys also love boys; some, unfortunately, do not. Boys are tremendously sensitive to adults who do not have a reasonable tolerance level for boy energy, and when they do sense that a person has a low threshold of boy tolerance, they usually respond to it as a challenge…Boys need to learn how to manage their physicality to do no harm, but they need not be shamed for exuberance.”
I have to admit that I did not immediately catch on to Brevitt’s need for sports. He was always so filled with anxiety when trying anything new that I protected him and let him avoid sports early on. It got to the point where I dreaded picking him up from school knowing that I would be barraged with requests to see his friends who were all actively involved in sports and unavailable.
Enough was enough. I lay down the law, Brevitt was going to start Lacrosse in the spring and he was going to like it. I was met with some resistance but as soon as we purchased the equipment he grew excited. The first year of Lacrosse was trying and he refused to practice but when he turned eight his agility and confidence grew tenfold. Sports were the answer giving him the opportunity to expend his energy, practice important hand eye coordination and learn to respond and listen to authority.
Football started last week and it was the first time that Brevitt willingly joined a team without knowing or caring if any of his friends were going to be there. It didn’t take long for me to assert my ignorance of the game when I announced to his coach that my son wanted to be a line backer. “She means running back”, Brevitt shyly stated.
The reality is that the quickest way for me to learn football is if I join the team. After all, Brevitt’s practice closely resembles what I am suffering every morning in Eric’s boot camp and I feel ready for anything. I’m sure that would go over well!
It is unfortunate for my boys that their mother is completely in the dark about team sports and all their rules but I am trying as best I can to catch on. My excuse is that I grew up with sister’s and watching sports on television was about as exciting as sewing.
Later that evening Brevitt excitedly put on his new uniform but broke into tears of frustration when I couldn’t figure out where all the pads went. He reprimanded me for Twittering during the uniform fitting and told me that I needed to be more focused. We sat there staring at the hip pads wondering why they looked like large outlets. Thankfully, Wade came home and explained that the holes in the pads were for the belt, which we had neglected to procure.
I am fortunate that Wade and the boys love and accept me for who I am. After all, they have no choice. The good thing is that Brevitt is clearing the path for his brothers and I will no longer hesitate to put them in a sport.
I have learned that there is such a fine line between listening to your children’s fears and taking the courage to push them forward enabling them to become excited to learn more about life’s pleasures whether it be sports or culture.
Boys need to release their energy regularly so that they can think more clearly and become less restless. The truth is their batteries rarely run down, they only get recharged.