He is my little gentleman; shy, quiet and reserved.
Maybe a little too shy, quiet and reserved.
He stands back from the crowds and watches from the side lines.
He doesn't like attention put upon him and embarrasses easily.
I worry he is missing out.
I want his confidence to grow.
And it is, albeit slowly, and an egg shaped ball is helping.
Back in the summer he started to take to the rugby ball rather than the football that he had been kicking around and shooting into the garden goal.
He started to throw and catch with his dad and stated he liked it a lot more than football.
I tentatively asked him should we look for a local rugby club to join - he said yes.
I quickly got in touch with the local town team and they invited him along to training - he could have three weeks before making up his mind if it was for him.
The husband took him along to the first session where he joined in but at the same time kept his distance from the main action.
He had a wibble about going again but a few gentle words of encouragement and the following week it was my turn to take him along.
I watched him as he trotted over to join the coaches and the other players and he was soon into the warm ups and ball drills.
Then they had a game of tag rugby.
He got the ball, he got tagged, his face wibbled, his lower lip came out, his eyes filled with tears. The coach was straight in there buoying him along.
We chatted later clarifying that getting tagged is inevitably going to happen and it is a key part of the game.
We chatted lots about the rules of the game and how the majority of the children had been playing for a few years and he had been there for two weeks.
We chatted lots about persevering.
Then, perfect timing. He came home from school and told us about that day's assembly where the head teacher had talked about Growth Mindset with the key message focussing on the words, 'I can't do it' and turning it into, 'I can't do it...yet!'
Yes! We had a saying to back up everything we had been talking about.
At the end of the third session he decided that yes he was going to commit so club fees were paid and kit purchased. The following week the coaches commented to me that his confidence was starting to show through and that the first few weeks he was like 'A deer in headlights' - which summed him up perfectly. Now that deer is starting to be a little less stunned.
Watching him yesterday, play in four matches at a rugby festival, we saw that confidence increase bit by bit through each game. In the first three matches he was still reserved; he held back from the main action, when the ball was passed to him he couldn't get it out of his hands quick enough, he didn't chase for the tags. But match four and we saw a difference; he was running for other players, he kept up more, he was involved, and then...
HE GOT A TAG!
It had all been worth it for that moment.
That boosted his confidence no end.
He proudly collected his medal and posed with the trophy that his club had won having been nominated by the other coaches as the club demonstrating the best team spirit.
That for me was the best message and rugby, although a new sport for me to be involved in, has been a great choice for the boy.
I loved this spread in the festival magazine particularly the words...
RESPECT, BE SUPPORTIVE, BE POSITIVE, ENJOY YOURSELF, IT'S ONLY A GAME
And the line...
I WILL TRY MY BEST, BUT I'M NOT SURE I'M THE NEXT SUPERSTAR QUITE YET!
But he will always be my superstar.
x x x