Today I opened a new chapter for Benjamin and I when I signed him up for Little League (t-ball to be specific). We went over to the local middle school and entered into unchartered territory for the two of us. However, after the five minutes that we were there, I become deeply bothered by it.
I found it incredibly upsetting when Benjamin kept hiding behind me and actually ran from the room where the registration was. He has been shy and nervous in the past, but something was very different this time. Usually, just a little coaxing and a smile by the new person is enough to ease him a little, but it didn’t today and I found it really upsetting. Even after a few hour hours something bugged me about it.
At first, all those high school sports films ran through my head where the father pushes a sport on his kid with such a narrow-mindedness as to damage the relationship. I wondered, if I translated his shyness into a resistance to wanting to play a sport I loved.
Then, I wondered if it was the shyness itself. I am a shy person. In grammar and high school, there were times that it really held me back. In college and beyond, I have had to work extremely hard to keep it from controlling much of what I do. Sometimes, it wins, but most of the time I can beat it. But, it breaks my heart to think of Benjamin battling that same shyness his whole life. It is something I have feared a long time…that he would inherit his papa’s shyness. I truly worry about it.
However, after I got home, I started talking to Andrea about it and, we talked to Benjamin, as well. I think we came up with a theory from both sides. Through daycare and school, every authoritative figure he has met has been a woman (with the exception of me). For him to walk into a room full of men, all staring at him, must have been a new experience for him. While they were friendly and kind in trying to interact, they weren’t the woman he was use to, and this must have scared the crap out of him.
As for me, I think it is along the same line. All his interactions have been with woman teachers and have been about his mental and emotional development. Signing him up for little league was starting a new chapter for both of us. In a way, I was presenting him to my world, to a sport I understood and depended on. Sports are a huge part of my life and the thought that my son might not share that interest feels a bit devastating. How will I relate to him? How will he understand me?
Of course, this is ridiculous…He is five and it is way to early to jump to such conclusions. And, after talking to him, we discovered that his reactions had nothing to do with the sport, itself.
After spending the bulk of the day after that, in a weird funk, we went over to the high school to watch the boys basketball game. He took to it in a way I didn’t think he would. He immediately started asking question from Andrea, trying to understand what was going on. He had a keen interest in what the cheerleaders were doing (‘atta boy). He asked me who I was rooting for and got excited when he realized we were rooting for the same guys. And when it came to cheering, well, I don’t thing there was anyone louder in that gym and his excitement was not to be contained.
Tonight, I will sleep peacefully.