Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The Art of Not Getting It

Michael had soccer practice on Saturday morning. After the first practice - that resulted in two leg clinging, tear streaming, all out tantrums - this practice was more about learning to follow through with what you ask for than it was about playing soccer. Really, the last thing I wanted to do on a cold, rainy Saturday morning was sit on metal bleachers and watch a bunch of 5 and 6 year olds run around like maniacs. But, sometimes you have to suffer for the lesson.*

The surprising thing was that Michael was fine. He ran out when his name was called, picked up his new red shirt, and joined in the chaos with the rest of the kids. He even pointed out after the practice that there were no tears. Good for you, Buddy.

Watching the practice for an hour is surprisingly difficult. While the instructors in Micheal's karate class have kid crowd control down to a science, the college aged soccer coach leading Michael's group doesn't have a clue. There were about ten kids in the red shirt group, and maybe six of them were paying attention at any given time.

One thing I noticed was similar to what Desi noticed when volunteering in kindergarten. Boys are wiggly, much more wiggly than girls. There are two boys in Michael's group that cannot seem to stand still. They had their own little party going on, and it only tangentially had anything to do with soccer.

Michael is fidgety to, but not nearly as much as some of the other boys. While the kids were doing drills, Michael was actively paying attention and participating in the drills. He likes order, and follows directions pretty well. But, when they started to scrimmage, the coach lost about half of the kids. The girls all stood together waiting for something to happen. The two boys kept running off while their parents kept calling them back. The rest of the boys tried to score.

Then there was Michael. He stood in the middle of the field surrounded by the girls, but he didn't seem to notice anything going on around him. He had discovered something interesting on the ground, and kept digging at it with his cleats. I don't know what it was, but he was completely absorbed in smacking and dragging his foot against the ground. As Andy was calling to him to get him to play, Michael just kept going for the hole ignoring the soccer game that was going on around him.

As I watched him, I realized that he just wasn't getting it. He likes running around with other kids, but he was missing the entire point of soccer practice. Soccer is a game? It has rules? These ideas never crossed his mind.

Andy finally said something to me and I tried to help get Michael's attention so he might try to, you know, play soccer. The only problem was that I was so focused on trying to figure out what Michael was doing with his feet, that I completely missed which side he was supposed to be playing on.

Hmm...maybe the apple doesn't fall far from the tree?

Overall, it was a good practice. We went to the field house and got a hot dog when it was over, and then headed back to the car. On our way, I heard a little boy say "good-bye!" Michael didn't notice it at all, so Andy urged Michael to respond, which he did.

"Michael, did you recognize that boy from your group?" He asked as after the boy was gone.

Michael just sort of blew off the question while digging into his hot dog.

I'll admit it. I had no clue the boy was in his group. Even though I had watched them play for an entire hour. Oops.

*Yes, I realize it was a learning moment for me as much as it was for him.


JenFen said...

Group sports at this age are so much fun to watch. Last year Jadyn really kind of followed the action more than participating it so I was surprised when she said she wanted to play again this year and she is much more into it now so don't be surprised if it suddenly clicks with Michael. Then again, team sports are not for everyone and that is fine too.

I had to laugh at your "likes rules and order" comment. I have said this many times but Jake and Michael would get along famously!

Stacey said...

I can only imagine how much Cole and Michael would antagonize each other. Cole has little patience for people who don't take the game seriously, but he actively despises rules and order. And he is one of those excessively fidgety boys.

What if you made soccer a research project? He could develop a hypothesis for why kids find it fun and engage in practice to collect data? That's how I survive most social situations.