Those two words are not commonly found together.
Jeremy was not a rough and tumble little boy. When Emma first learned how to walk, my Mom and I took her to the park and set her on the grass. She loved it and went running around madly. When Jeremy first learned how to walk, I set him on the grass and he stared at me in sheer horror. What the hell had I put him on? He burst into tears and raised his arms to be held again. After some coaxing, he finally would walk on the lawn but his exaggerated step, each foot raised as high as possible, showed how he felt about it.
Then there was the petting zoo. Emma loved it. We had to rein her in a little because she wanted to hug every animal there. I have vivid memories of taking Jeremy into a petting zoo. He wandered around for less than a minute then looked at me in disgust.
“Mom! Those animals are pooing and peeing ON. THE. GROUND!!!” he announced both loudly and emphatically.
He turned and bolted, waiting outside the gate for us, looking away in case one of the animals did something else on the ground that they weren’t supposed to.
Jeremy enjoyed the playground and quickly learned to love bike riding via Emma’s outgrown bicycles. He even grew to enjoy camping. But as he got older and playing on the playground became less frequent, I tried to find him something else to do.
Our first attempt, when Jeremy was still small, was swimming lessons. Jeremy loved the water but hated having it touch his face. This was a mandatory part of the lessons and we eventually pulled him out of classes because he was slowly beginning to hate swimming, which wasn’t our goal.
Then I tried dance. We had a dance studio across the street from us, which Emma already enjoyed. One fall afternoon we all walked over and I checked to see what classes were available. The biggest issue turned out to be his age and not his gender. He’d never taken dance before, wasn’t athletic, and wasn’t particularly coordinated. Signing him into a class with his peers, especially ones who’d been dancing for five years already, wasn’t going to work. But there was a hip hop class aimed at beginners and he’d be only one year older than the oldest child in the group. So I signed him up.
He loved his dance class. He loved the movement, he loved the music, and he loved dancing with his peers. Then came the recital. I discovered his costume two days beforehand. A black, sports themed hoodie and black pants. Jeremy was underwhelmed, he’d hoped for something with some sparkle. I brought him to the recital already dressed in his costume. Then he stood in the hallway by himself while the rest of the group hung out in the change room, which was the largest room. He couldn’t join them because there were girls changing. So he stood outside listening while they laughed together, got pictures taken, and practised. I’d been promised the girls would be joining him in the hallway before I went to my seat. That wasn’t the case. He refused to join the following year and wasn’t willing to give the school based dance classes a try.
Karate was a dismal failure. His best efforts to get into position failed and his teacher assumed he wasn’t trying, which lead to Jeremy arguing that he was trying and had just done what the teacher asked, which lead to him joining me in my kick boxing class. Which was just as dismal a failure because we were kicking and punching which was boring. And the music was gross.
Soccer, ironically enough, was a success. I signed Jeremy up for two community run programs where we used to live; soccer and a drop in playgroup. I figured he’d love the playgroup with its variety of activities and offers of ice cream and would tolerate the soccer practises. The reverse was true.
The playgroup was very loosely organized and minimally supervised. The volunteers set up the stations then sat back and kept an eye out for blood, while chatting amongst themselves. Somehow they missed Jeremy’s small but vocal fan club who followed along behind him, calling him a fag. Jeremy didn’t find this anywhere near as entertaining as they did and flat out refused to go after two sessions. He told me the kids were “bugging him”. I didn’t find out how much or what was being said until almost a month later when we were on our way to a soccer practise and they happened by. I was walking closely enough to hear them but far enough away that they didn’t know I was with Jeremy.
Soccer, on the other hand, was highly organized but minimally competitive. The volunteers set themselves up to help out small groups of children and they loved having parents there to cheer the kids on during their games. With one adult for every three children plus a group of avid parents, the bullying was non-existent.
The first half of practise was just that, practise. Jeremy enjoyed this part. The ball was stationary and he simply needed to try and kick it.
He was enthusiastic, I’ll give him that.
The second half of practise was the game. His team was divided into two then set to play against each other. Jeremy stood in the centre of the field and watched as they ran around him, occasionally wincing when the ball came too close. At one point they tried him in the goal, figuring he was standing around anyways so he might as well stand there. This worked as long as everyone was on the other side of the field. When the ball grew closer, Jeremy simply abandoned the goal and went to find someplace a little safer.
His favourite part of soccer was the outfit. He loved the silky material of his soccer uniform and wore it everywhere. Even now, his favourite shorts are soccer shorts.
His last time playing soccer was almost three years ago though. We have a gym in the basement of our building but Jeremy refuses to go to it because it’s boring. He’d be willing to go with me but the gym is segregated by sex so that’s not an option. We have a pool downstairs as well but it’s small and he considers that boring too.
We had to run to the bus stop last week. It was just a short run but Jeremy nearly keeled over once we reached the shelter. Obviously watching YouTube videos isn’t good for his health. I need to find him something else to do.