Wednesday, August 17, 2011

I Need Some Rules!

The last couple weeks have really pointed out to me how rule-oriented Ben is. He really finds comfort and freedom in a certain amount of structure.

He has jumped into Pop Warner football with both feet. He has had practice every weeknight and a couple weekend days from 6-8 every evening. He was a little lost at first, especially the first week when he was practicing with all the big boys, but now that his team has been formed and he is familiar with the coaches and drills and kids, he is having fun. He knows where to go and what to do, even if he is still a little fuzzy on the exact rules of the game (I feel the same way about the rules of football, to be honest.)

Now that he is comfortable at practice, I have been encouraging him to play with his team-mates before and after practice as they run around chasing each other, tackling each other, and playing their own crazy game of football. At first, he didn't know anyone so he was a little hesitant because of that. I can understand that. But now that it has been a couple weeks, he no longer has that as an excuse, so I wouldn't take that excuse from him this evening. I gave him a smile and a shove and a word of encouragement and he walked over to the group of boys like a man walking to his death.

When he got to the boys, he had no idea what to do. They were clearly not playing by any rules, just goofing around, so Ben didn't know his place. As they ran off chasing the boy with the ball, Ben stayed frozen to the spot, looking around worried, like he had no idea what was expected of him.

As I battled my feelings of protectiveness for my lost little boy and annoyance at him for not jumping in and figuring it out as he went, I realized that his love of structure and rules works out perfectly for practice and drilling. He is always where he needs to be doing what he is told; never goofing around; never out of line. He never has to run extra laps like so many of the other boys constantly do because they aren't paying attention.

His need for rules doesn't quite help him out though when there are no rules. When no one is in charge and no one has told him the rules of the game, he is totally lost. I could just see him standing there waiting for one of the boys to say, "Ben, chase me! Come get me!" But no one knew he needed that, so he stood there waiting for the coach to show up.

I don't know what to do to encourage him in this area, as I was exactly the same way as a child (and still pretty much am.) I have never been able to just "jump in" to a group and act like I know what I'm doing either. I need someone to tell me exactly what my part is and how to do it, then I'm good to go. I don't want Ben to be an outsider though. I love his focus during practice but want him to let loose at the appropriate time.

Any suggestions how to get him to move out of his comfort zone here? Everything I say seems to just upset him and I don't want to enforce his hesitancy by making too big a deal out of it. Should I just let him sit by me until practice starts, or should I find a way to get him to play with the other boys?


  1. I would imagine once he knows the "rules" of these free flowing games, it will come more naturally to him as he is exposed to what they are doing.


  2. Maine is the same way. At lacrosse, I literally had to push him over to pick up a stick and find someone to play with before practice started. I felt bad, because I would be the exact same way in that situation, but what do you do?? If you figure out a solution, let me know!! :)

  3. I would be too, Aubrey. I am considering joining the "game" until practice starts this evening. I know Ben would play if I was running around out there. Just not sure the other boys are gonna love it and am afraid it makes Ben look like a momma's boy



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