I've never been good at sports. I always seem to get hit in the head with the ball--even if I'm not actually playing the game. Standing around, watching friends play beach volleyball, for example, it's only a matter of time before an errant serve whacks me in the side of the head.
As a kid, I gave it a go. I played church softball. (For my Aussie and/or non-American readers, a lot of churches in the States have sports leagues and play other churches in softball, basketball, whatever.) I was never any good at softball. I played cause that's just what you did, but I was always uncomfortable and nervous I'd do something catastrophic, and generally glad when my turn at bat was over. I only played for a couple of years, before embracing my non-sportiness. But not before I got a trophy! My very own award, at the end-of-the-year church softball banquet. For "Most Christian Attitude". Bless them for coming up with an award to give me, but even as an 11 year old, I knew it was kind of bogus. Still, it was nice to have a trophy.
Imagine my surprise when I ended up dating and eventually marrying a natural athlete. Jason grew up playing nearly every sport offered in Orange County, and eventually chose to focus on diving. I really saw my lack of athleticism as a flaw, at that time it was something that I was kind of embarrassed about. So, when I started to realize that I, like, LIKED Jason, I told myself he would never be interested in me because he was such an athlete and I was clearly not. Of course, I was 18 and more than a little silly. Now, of course, our differences there are a non-issue. He doesn't expect me to want to play tennis or whatever with him, and I enjoy having a husband who can do back flips on command. (This is awesome at parties.)
Ava and Nate are at the age now that they are starting to try out different sports. We are doing it gradually--they're pretty little and we are not quite ready to have our lives overtaken by practices, games, and more practices. They both are in swimming lessons, which here in Australia, doesn't even really count. Pretty much every kid is in swimming, all year round! Nate has started playing soccer this year, and both kids are taking gymnastics on Friday afternoons. The YMCA runs a program out of our local high school, and they are having lots of fun on the trampoline and the balance beam, and learning to hang from the uneven bars.
Of course, when your kids start to play sports, that's when you see the different philosophies emerge from Mom and Dad. You might guess that I'm pretty chill about the whole thing. Do you want to do this, are you having fun, just try your best--that's kind of my deal. Jason would agree, but he's also: push through the pain, don't cry, practice more, don't stop running just cause your side hurts, etc. (Actually that's the advice he has to give me, not so much the kids!)
Tonight, I was getting the kids into their PJ's, and asking them how gymnastics went this afternoon. Ava stuck her foot in the air. "See this big toe?" "Uh, yeah," I said. "I was running toward the mini-trampoline to do my star jumps and my toe hit the metal bar on the side. I cried," she said. "Ouch!" I said, "I bet that hurt."
Nate then jumped in the conversation. He showed us where he'd fallen and scraped his elbow. "I laid on the ground for a minute," he said, pausing for effect, "And then I just got up and kept going. See?" he said, now looking at Ava to lecture her, "It's okay if you feel tears, but you just gotta keep them from coming out."
I'm sure Jason would've high-fived him if he'd been in the room to hear that statement! Of course, me being me, I said, "Well, it's okay if you cry sometimes!" I betcha if Jason had heard me say that, I would've totally gotten the Stinkeye.
This is probably why one of us got a Most Christian Attitude trophy and one of us got a 4 year full tuition athletic scholarship.