Mr6 has never been a joiner. It used to bother me. I took him to Gymbaroo when he was, um, one, and he didn’t want to get involved. He didn’t mind throwing balls around and climbing over stuff, but sitting on the mat singing nursery rhymes with everyone else was not his thing. (Now that I think about it, he was one. It’s nobody’s thing at one.)
Anyway. In his short life, I have suggested many things for him to try. Not because I want to overschedule his life, but because I have been brainwashed into thinking it’s ‘best’ for kids to be involved. And there were also the echoes of my own childhood to deal with – the one in which I was never much good at, you know, ball sports and stuff. If he didn’t start soccer at two, would he ever make a team?
“Don’t push it,” my mum would say. “He’ll work it out.”
Around him, kids picked up rugby, soccer, ballet, baseball, hip-hop, drama, circus, gymnastics… I’d ask him if he wanted to go along. He always answered the same way: “No, thank you.” It’s hard to argue with such exquisite politeness.
I was thinking about all this yesterday as I cooled my heels at the local Martial Arts gym. Where I sat among the hanging punching bags, watching Mr6 earnestly attempt to get up off his back without using his hands. I watched him get picked as a team leader for sitting the straightest. I watched him stand, head cocked to one side, trying to memorise the complicated series of moves that gets a three-metre belt wrapped around his 15cm waist without too much left over.
And I realised that he’s growing up. He’s now a Little Ninja, twice a week (surely a program dreamed up by a non-parent). He has four notes and three chords on the guitar. He does swimming lessons.
He’s choosing his own path, and it does not, at this point, include soccer. Or, disappointingly, hip-hop.
I suspect his love affair with Little Ninjas is more to do with the ‘costume’, as he calls it, which owes much to the Luke Skywalker school of fashion, but I have to say it suits him. It’s routine-based, discipline-based, requires concentration and patience, and there’s a lot of high-fiving involved (instant reward). For as long as he’s not actually hitting anyone – or being hit – I’m happy with it.
Mr3 wants to know why he can’t join Ninjapoops (as he calls it). But, watching him tear in and out of the hanging punching bags on the sidelines, I’m wondering if he might prefer soccer…