Friday, November 14, 2008

Good sports

This week, Bud brought home the school's Winter Sports preference sheet, with instructions that the completed form should be returned by the end of the week. I imagine that for most families, this quick turn-around was fairly easy; for us, it was a bit more challenging.

"Winter Sports" is a program at Bud's school that runs on five consecutive Fridays starting in early January. Students choose from among ten different activities and participate in the same activity each week for the entire program. In November, the school sends home a description of the activities being offered and families send back the students' top three choices. The staff uses the preference sheet to balance enrollment numbers and assign activities.

In first and second grade, Bud's Winter Sport activity was snowshoeing. I chose the activity for him based on several factors: it was close to the school and wouldn't require a long bus ride; it was something I thought he could do independently; and, it would likely be low-key and not an activity that would draw a lot of dysregulating screaming and jumping from other children. It played out exactly that way and Bud enjoyed the activity.

So, when the form came home this year, I thought about listing snowshoeing again and sending it back without discussion. As I thought about it, though, I realized that I was not being fair to Bud. The other children had options; he should have options too. And perhaps he'd be interested in trying something new. Last year, he was not doing well enough to take risks, but this year he just might be.

I approached Bud with the form in hand and showed him the description of his options. He was enthusiastic, and indicated an interest in a lot of things: bowling! wall climbing! gymnastics! SWIMMING! I asked about snowshoeing, but he said he wasn't interested.

I read the descriptions of the activities. Bowling involved a long bus ride. Wall climbing was for fourth and fifth grade only. Gymnastics, I knew, would not be what Bud expected (he would expect only trampolines; they would try to get him on parallel bars and balance beams). But swimming... Swimming is a favorite activity of Bud's. He's had lessons and he knows the basics, but he is not yet a strong swimmer. Put him in a life vest, though, and he is king of the swimming pool.

I read the activity description and saw that only students who could swim independently were eligible for it. I wondered though, if a life vest would be considered a reasonable accommodation, given the circumstances. I dashed off an e-mail to Bud's special ed coordinator before I said anything else to Bud.

As I waited for a response from her, I started playing the Winter Sports swim scenario through in my head. Bud is familiar with the pool, but not with the pool full of forty screaming children. He is confident in the water - but would he be too confident? Was he really ready to be in the water without an adult next to him, in an easily-removed life vest? And what about the whole locker-room issue? Would Bud be able to manage the clothing-off-suit-on process by himself? Would he be in the locker room surrounded by towel-snapping, wedgie-giving boys?

The very idea sent my blood pressure soaring.

So, I sat down with Bud once more to talk about Winter Sports options, and as we talked I realized quickly that he hadn't really understood the concept of "listing activities, in order of preference." Instead, he told me enthusiastically, "First I do bowling, then I do swimming, then I do gymnastics!"

I tried to explain "rank order," but fell flat. So, I told Bud, "Let's just choose one."

"Swimming," he said.

"Swimming?"

"Bowling."

"Bowling instead?"

"Yes. Swimming."

"Swimming or bowling?"

"Okay."

"We need to choose one, Bud."

"Swimming."

"Swimming?"

"Okay. Bowling."

"You like swimming AND bowling, don't you, Bud?"

"Yes."

"Let's put bowling on the paper."

"Okay."

So bowling it is. I think it's a good choice: a long but manageable bus ride, an activity he enjoys, and an opportunity for "parallel play" with peers.

And best of all? No wedgies.

19 comments:

Stimey said...

What a cool program. There's no wall climbing at my kids' school. I struggle with letting my kids make their own decisions too. It's tough to let go of that control, especially if they don't think the whole thing through. Which no kid does.

Oh, and nicely done with the you know what.

kristenspina said...

Yes, nicely done with the you know what, and I agree...bowling is the better option. The swimming thing just has too many variables. Including, you know what.

Niksmom said...

Outstanding choice, bowling. :-) I suck at it but it sure beats the heck out of those you know whats. ;-)

Kassiane said...

Swimming with 40 kids sounds like hell.

Bowling sounds like a good choice. Gymnastics he may surprise you...parralell bars are pretty fun (take this with a shaker of salt, I teach gymnastics). But definately a good choice.

Jordan said...

Bowling sounds like just the right choice for Bud; we do want to keep Bud wedgie-free. ;-)

kayla said...

That is so neat we don't have anything like that here where we are.

Lori at Spinning Yellow said...

What a great program. Good choice with the bowling, too. And nicely played, you are a good sport, too.

Micky said...

Bowling is noisy, but if Bud's familiar with the environment, it sounds like a brilliant choice for letting him start to make independent decisions. Good job, Bud (and Mom)!
As an aside, I am very, very much enjoying hearing more about Bud again. His stories are an opportunity for me to learn more about myself, as well as giving me experiences from a new perspective.

Kitt said...

Bowling is fun! And every kid is going to roll gutter balls, so it's not like he'll be seriously outclassed.

The noise might be a concern, though, given his fear of thunder. Unless he loves bowling so much that you can turn thunderstorms into "angels bowling!"

Can you take him bowling yourself one night to see how he likes it?

MOM-NOS said...

Actually, Kitt, bowling is already an activity he enjoys. It still surprises me, because there is SO much about it for him not to like! I think he probably started bowling before his fear of thunderstorms developed, so it doesn't have that connection for him. The noise doesn't get to him at all - not even when the place is crowded.

I can't explain it, but I am thankful for it!

FXSmom said...

Sounds like a conversation with Matthew...lol. We would have went bowling too.

Drama Mama said...

miss m loves the bowling! wish we could come over there and play with you guys!

does mom get to have a beer while he plays?

Em said...

Bowling. Definitely. The locker room scenario can turn ugly pretty fast for a kid who can become the brunt of some bullying, teasing, etc. We've lived that experience.

Bud's Dad said...

I found it hard to keep him from wandering down the alley after the ball but he's a great bowler. I especially liked the part where we danced in bowling shoes. I wonder if they know they have to do that at school?

for what it's worth said...

We have Fitness Fridays at our school plus Winter Wonder-Sports.
Right now, the kids are loving the Dodgeball league playing against the teachers. But come WW-S season, the kids have choices ranging from Rhythmic Gymnastics to Chess and everything in between all occurring on site. We solicit volunteers from our University Phys Ed and Education departments and our College for Rehabilitation Practitioners, TA's and Childcare Specialists to support our programs.

A letter of reference from a school goes a long way for these graduates in the coming days so it's a good investment of time for all involved.

kristina said...

Bowling has worked out well for Charlie----there's a lot of routines and cues so he is pretty able to do the actual bowling part on his own. Charlie's not that interested about his score and after about 3 or 4 rounds he'd like to go----

Always good to hear from Bud (and you!).

Nicki said...

Man that sounds like it was a hard decision for Bud! Too bad they can't invent some sort of underwater bowling sport for him!

Anonymous said...

Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio?

(Spring sport).

Theresa said...

Waaah.... I'm experiencing MOM-NOS withdrawal.....


Come back!
;-)