I’ve got boys. Boys with lots and lots of energy. Boys that need an outlet for all that energy. In the last year, that outlet has been each other. And it’s been a long year of constant, “don’t hit your brother.” “no, don’t you hit your brother either.” “please stop hitting your brother.” Did I say it was constant????
In the States, Liam was a bit young for sports (he was 2 1/2 when we moved here) but Aidan did 3 sports during the fall semester before we left. Horseback, tennis and soccer. He played tennis for almost 2 years before we moved here and did horseback for 2 1/2. It was his first season playing soccer (now known as futbol here). Our lives were chaotic to say the least. Getting ready for a big move overseas and then balacing work, sports and life in general. But it was worth it.
Fast forward to January 2010. We’ve moved to Barcelona and made a conscious decision that we would postpone sports for at least our first 6 months living here. We did this for a few reasons (1) we had no idea what would be available to us and how to go about enrolling either child (2) we wanted a break from our chaotic lives for a little bit (3) we needed time to get used to our lives here and figure out what direction we wanted to take them in before making any long term commitments. We said we would wait until school started again in September before putting the boys into sports.
This September I gave Aidan a few options for sports. He poo pooed them all. Said he didn’t want to take lessons, just play the sports on their own. Because like me, he’s let the language intimidate him. So instead of pushing like I normally would have, I let him have his way. I was lazy (didn’t want to have to trek him to the other side of the city for tennis lessons) and fearful of my own language concerns. But the last few weeks have been rough with Aidan – he’s been having a very angry attitude with us ALL THE TIME. He’s swearing, he’s hitting. Some of it is just him testing his boundries but it goes beyond that. He’s just downright pissed off at the world and we have no idea why. And so, the time has come to make a decision – do we force sports upon him or once again put it in his court?
We decided that we would give him an option of a few sports and that he HAD to choose ONE. He was welcome to choose more than one but that he needed to play something again and get some energy out. He decided on tennis, which was what we expected. So this week I bit the fear of language bullet and went up to Vall d’Hebron where we play for fun and asked for information for both Aidan and Liam for lessons. Thankfully they had Saturday lessons available and at the same time for them both. And they let us do a trial lesson yesterday before I invested quite a lot of moola into these lessons (for which I was both thankful that I understood what they were saying and for them trying to save my poor wallet).
Yesterday was the day. We told Aidan he was already signed up. Why give him a chance to duck out of the commitment he agreed to. So with a bit of a whine (ok a lot of a whine) and a bit of freaking out (perhaps a tantrum or two thrown in along the way), we were off to tennis! Liam was so excited about going and couldn’t stop talking about his lessons.
We get there and they direct us to the courts where the kids were all playing. And there were a lot of courts and a lot of kids. Each class has up to 10 kids with at least 2 instructors, so no more than 5 kids per instructor which was similar to the lessons Aidan took at home. Now Liam freezes up… he wants nothing to do with playing tennis and clings to my leg for dear life. That would be fine, except his big brother is already clinging to my other leg not wanting to join in.
Thank goodness for Rosa. She was young, perhaps early 20s and spoke pretty good English. This was a source of fear for Aidan – that his instructor would only speak Spanish. I had tried to allievate this fear for him before by saying that tennis is a sport that can be communicated without speaking if necessary. You follow the motions the instructor is giving you, you follow what the other kids are doing as well. But Rosa spoke English. The kids were warming up and Aidan refused to join them for that. We sat in front of the courts waiting, hoping, praying we could get him in there. His shyness preventing him once again from having fun which just breaks my heart.
Finally about 10 minutes into the hour and a half lesson, Aidan said “I’m ready”. Whew!!! I brought him up to Rosa and she took his hand. She was so wonderful with him I wanted to cry – she would explain everything in both Spanish and for Aidan, in English. She made him feel included with the group. He fit right in as far as his level of ability (this session goes Oct – June so he missed the first 3 months) and knew exactly what to do. We saw, OMG, a smile!!! Maybe even a few.
He left the court one time telling us he was done. But after a quick drink of water he was back on. At the end of the lesson he wanted to keep playing. And he said to me as we left “Mommy, it was really hard for me to go to tennis today and I was really afraid, but I’m really glad I went.”. At that moment, I knew it was worth it to have pushed him and I only wish I’d done it sooner. But like everything else here, we have to take it poco a poco (little by little). And little by little, our lives, even after a year, are finally going back to “normal”.