I might be biased but I think my son is a pretty talented kid. He loves music and theatre and can spend hours creating detailed costumes if you hand him a pile of textas and a stack of felt. I love seeing what he creates and am thrilled that he doesn’t spend every waking hour begging to play a video game or watch one more television show.
But here’s the thing: There are adults in his life who can’t understand how a boy his age could not enjoy sports. “But he’s left-handed, he’d make a great bowler!” they say. “Don’t you want to pass the footy?” they ask him.
Unable to comprehend a boy who doesn’t look forward to a Sunday full of football games or a game of catch in the front yard, they insist that my son is missing out on something by not playing sports.
I’m running out of ways to explain to them that he is perfectly happy without ever wielding a cricket bat or kicking a soccer ball into a net. Just like they can’t imagine life without a goalie net, he can’t imagine life without a microphone and a stack of blank paper.
As his mum, my hopes and dreams for my son consist of him being happy and healthy. I’d like him to find a path in life that is fulfilling and a group of friends who support him along the way. For me, this starts with helping him believe in his choices. I don’t want him to second guess whether he should be using a cricket bat or a glue stick, whether he should be practicing vocal ranges or his golf swing. I want him to follow his passion and never worry about how many people are following alongside him in search of the same thing.
I’ve become fiercely protective of my son’s interests. I rarely interject when adults ask my other kids if they would like to try something, unless it’s 100 grams of sugar an hour before bedtime, but I’ve begun to insert myself into the conversation when people prod my son to jump into a game of the local sport of choice. It’s become more than just a friendly question to include him; their continued questions imply that it’s not “normal” for him to say no to tossing a ball in the street. He’s perfectly happy drawing on the footpath and pretending to fly by in a superhero cape and I want him to know that is okay. I don’t want him to feel pressured into doing something he doesn’t enjoy just because someone else perceives it as fun.
He doesn’t quite have the words yet to explain to others that what he loves might not be what society has decided he should enjoy. Sooner or later people will give up on trying to talk him into being a rough-and-tumble kind of boy, but until then I’ll continue to remind them that being a quirky and creative boy is just as important. I’ll thank them for their thoughtful offers of sports teams and backyard cricket games but remind them that backyard concerts and singing contests are just as fun.
My son has decided it’s perfectly okay for boys not to play sports, and he’s right. I just need the rest of the world to believe in him too.
Photos: Jessica Watson/Instagram