Every term, flyers come home from school detailing class being run in the town as part of the Active Kids programme. Every term, M looks at it, and says there is nothing he wants to do. This term though it was different.
M wants so much to be part of what is going on at school, and yet he has such difficulty understanding the social nuances that are required to be part of groups. Last year, he joined the Scottish dancing club which was run in the school hall for half an hour immediately after classes. He loved the sessions, and would come home showing us what he had learned. Then some of the older kids started getting annoyed with him because he didn’t always understand the instruction, and therefore appeared to be playing about, and so he wouldn’t go again. It was so sad that as much as we tried to talk to him about asking if he was unsure or us saying we would talk to his teacher, he had made up his mind he just didn’t want to go back. He joined Cubs, because he had seen a television programme about it and thought it looked really interesting, learning about nature and the wider world. The reality was, there was a room full of scream kids and they were being spoken to about things, and not getting the chance to experience them. He didn’t want to go back, and when asked why he said he didn’t want to spend time out of school with the boys who made life difficult at school – sad that being bullied isn’t something you can switch off once the teacher says it has been dealt with.
We had therefore been looking for something M might enjoy doing. He loves his dancing at the weekend but there was nothing along those lines at any other time, and peer pressure had told him boys don’t do proper dance lessons! I just think any possible situation that he can maybe learn to experience teamwork has to be a positive influence on him, but really he needed a team activity that he could do by himself!
This term, his class are doing a social community project, and basically it means the children are learning about what goes on in the town they live in. When the note came home about it all, M was SO excited. The class were going to the golf club, to have a go, they were doing a traffic safety day, they were going to the beach to look at the rocks, they were going to the pond to look for wildlife, and they were going to the tennis club to have a go. M was talking about all the things they would be doing this term, but he was most interested in the idea of going to the tennis club. I am not sure where that comes from as we aren’t big fans in the house so don’t watch it on the telly for him to have seen any of the big names. The tennis is of course the last thing on the list of activities, so he has a long wait.
Then the note came home with the active kids programme. One of them was tennis coaching. He didn’t even give me time to read what he was handing me, but instead, just said he wanted to take tennis lessons. It was a six-week block and it would take place in the school hall immediately after school on a Monday. When he had calmed his excitement, we talked to him to make sure it was what he wanted to do, and he was desperate to take the lessons. I therefore booked him in.
Monday was his first lesson. His teacher was asked to remind him that he needed to go to the hall and not home after school, but still I waited for a call to ask why he hadn’t been picked up! None came.
When he came out, he was asked if he had liked it, and he said “no”. My heart sank, as I thought here we go again with something else that hasn’t lived up to his expectations. Then he added, “I totally loved it, it was awesome!” Hooray! There was nobody else from his class going, but a couple of boys that are 2 years ahead of him, that often say hi to him are there, and so there is someone familiar. He has already asked for a racquet, and has been told if he sticks with the classes and wants to continue, we will happily get him one.
It is such a relief to find something he wants to do that is extra curricular. I hope he can stick with it, and find something to enjoy. I remember when we were little my brother and I often went to the tennis courts in our local park for a knock about, and it was great fun.
So when the next John McEnroe steps onto centre court and starts screaming at the umpire in total meltdown, it might just be my wee man!