Tuesday, September 18, 2007

So That’s Why You’re No Good at Sports

The other morning I was getting my 6 year old son, Jack, ready for school. We were walking out the door when he spotted a map on the table. Both my boys are obsessed with maps. I’m not sure why and don’t mind so much because it is a good chance to provide them a geography lesson that they don’t even know they are getting. Jack wanted to keep the map, but I explained to him that I needed the map because my doctor gave it to me so I would know how to get to the store where there was something I needed to buy. “What does he want you to buy?” he asked. I told him that I had been having pains in my leg and hip, independent of the pains from the daily thrashing I received from him and his brother, and that the doctor said one of my legs was shorter than the other. I needed to buy a little thing to put in my shoe called a heel lift to even my legs out.

I kept walking to the car, anticipating what would come next. He hung back to stare at my legs. “Oh yeah,” he said. “I see it.” I laughed at that, and told him that the difference in length was so tiny the doctor could only tell it existed after reading an x-ray. I told him he wouldn’t be able to see the difference by watching me walk.

That’s when he had his epiphany. “That must be why you’re no good at running. Or at baseball. Or at sports.” Being the sensitive and caring boy that he is, he went on to inform me, “Next time we play baseball, instead of pelting you I’ll miss.” I’m sure it’s no surprise to you after reading this blog, but in my male-dominated household (MDH) we don’t play normal baseball. We play pelt baseball. To get someone out you have to throw the ball at them and pelt them. We don’t use real baseballs and our aim is not very accurate. There is still potential for injury which is rule number one in any game my boys create. “I can’t miss all the time, though,” he continued, “or everyone else will get mad at me.” “I understand,” I replied.

I didn’t tell him that the reason he always beats me at races is because I let him win. And the reason I never pelt him out during baseball is that I miss on purpose. Or that I intentionally run slowly around the bases so that he and his brother are sure to pelt me out. Am I doing them a disservice by not trying my hardest? By letting them win, am I making them think that they are better than they really are? Will this make losses hard to deal with when they play on teams where the opponents want to win as badly as they do? I guess only time will tell. So far, they both seem to be pretty good sportsmen. And their Dad wins enough to keep their heads from swelling too big. As they tell it, he’s supposed to be better than me because he’s a boy and I’m a girl.

Jack didn’t ask if my performance would improve once I start wearing the heel lift. But, if I am to continue the charade of being a poorer runner and baseball player than I truly am, I guess I will have to pretend to forget to wear my heel lift in my shoe and blame the shorter leg for my losses. And I will continue to have fun doing it, so they learn that it’s not such a bad thing to lose.

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