As obsessions go, I approve of this one. I never have to tell this beautiful boy to stop smashing holes through the drywall or throwing balls through windows.
I don’t even mind the sports-viewing on television. He wants to watch his favorite baseball team? Nothing wrong with that.
But as I watched my son develop an interest in actually playing sports–outside and with other children–as he approached adolescence, I grew uneasy. I want him to be able to explore his varied interests and to take chances but I also want him to learn to evaluate risk and make smart decisions.
That’s why I told him no.
When I looked up the research on the long-term effects of unprotected soccer players suffering repeated head injuries from collisions, water polo players nearly drowning, wrestlers asphyxiated by too-tight singlets and baseball players impaled by discarded bats I realized that I couldn’t say yes to the request I knew was coming.
Sure enough, my son approached me shortly before he turned 11. “Mommy,” he asked, “can I play any sport next year?”
“No, honey. I’m sorry. Not sports. I’ll support you playing just about any video game but I can’t in good conscience let you play any sport because they all carry risks.”
How do you get a child to wrap their young brains around the complex notion that I’d rather risk (more) obesity and psychosis than risk physical injury?
Over the course of the next 12 months, I explained to my son my concerns about the brain injuries now known to be commonly suffered in nearly every sport.
“What about just letting me ride a bike?”
“That’s actually the least safe sport you could do.”
A friend told me about a lecture where the speaker said the tough parenting decisions aren’t the ones you make when you’re sure of yourself but your child is mad at you as a result. So I’m quite confident I made the right call.
He’s keeping his brain safe, staying on his ADHD medications, going to counseling for his rage issues and trying a new diet to shed some of gallon-ice-cream-nights-with-
Winter can’t come soon enough.