Saturday, October 20, 2012

We need a new Role Model

It's that time of year again, when the season is changing from summer to fall, when the kids are getting back into organized sports, and when they play Kenny Chesney's "The Boys of Fall" on the radio every five minutes. It's my favorite time of year to be outside, but it is also the time of the year when I need to mentally pull myself out of the "what might have beens" into the "be grateful for what you haves".
There is something about seeing the facebook posts of friends at their kids' saturday morning soccer games and sunday morning football games that feels a little like a stab at my heart. It's not a heartbreak that my kids don't have enough options, that they will miss out exactly, although there is some of that too. You want your kids to have every choice in life. But there is also a camaraderie that happens between parents at the sports field that you miss out on if you have kids who can't play sports. I see it in the weekly class update letter from giraffeboy's teacher, where she references being like the rest of us heading to our kids' weekend sports events, and in the faded relationships my kids and I have with families of kids from preschool that have gone on to other elementary schools, that have been easier kept up with other sports families. There is an extra effort that needs to be made by us sportless families that I admit I'm not often good at making.
Then there is the final straw for me, the thing that makes my blood boil and drives the point home each year, the Farmington Homecoming week, complete with autograph sessions during elementary lunch with the football team and cheerleaders. I realize it's tradition, a rite of passage that happens for these high schoolers that has been done for longer then people remember here, but I hate it. I hate that my son comes home excited, and that instead of sharing that excitement I can only think "that will never be you". I hate that we celebrate these athletes in our town, but ignore the academic all-stars. I wish we'd relook at what it means to be a hero, and what is worth "stardom".
I wish instead of athletes we'd have the kids come to give autographs that have succeeded in high school against all odds. Bring me the kid who grew up without parent involvement that is excelling, the kid with a mental disability that is beating all the odds. Bring me the kid with aspergers, who despite a natural lack of understanding of basic social skills is thriving. Bring me anybody, really, for my kid to admire that they can relate to. Because no matter how much they might want to, or I might want them to be able to, they will never be that high school athlete. And it doesn't matter. They are perfect just the way they are. I just wish the rest of the world would learn to appreciate them and their fellow "sports-challenged" classmates a little more often.

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