Friday, August 23, 2013

When Your Kid Doesn't Play Ball (And His Parents Don't Either)

Act #235:  Wear red if you want to, kiddo.

Today the entire elementary school will be wearing blue and white.  At least that's what children from kindergarten through fifth grade were asked to do.  My six-year old was born the consummate rule-follower (except when he's at home) so while he's still snuggled comfortably in his bed (yes, I write this blog at 5 a.m. every day), my hunch is that when he wakes up, he will pick out a blue and white shirt to wear, just so he doesn't disappoint his teacher or classmates.

You see, this morning at assembly, two University of Kentucky basketball alumni, Jeff Shepherd and Doron Lamb will be speaking to the entire school about hard work, perseverance, and the importance of staying in school.  Kudos to the planners for their thoughtful efforts to expose young minds to  these important values.  While I'm not particularly athletic, I really get it.  I can appreciate the virtues of true sportsmanship such as fairness, self-control, courage, and persistence.  I know my son's bright and intelligent principal will do a beautiful job in connecting these virtues to personal choice, respect, responsibility, winning gracefully, and losing with dignity.  But I'd like to respectfully offer some possible scenarios that may be going through some of these impressionable minds.

This is cool, too bad I'm a girl.
I wish I could play ball.  What's wrong with me?
Do all tall black men play basketball?
I wish I were taller.
I play ball too!  I must be special.
Do I still need to stay in school if I don't want to play ball?

And some messages they are not pondering this morning:

I never knew girls could do that!  Maybe one day I can too.
The way I look has nothing to do with my capabilities.
Who knew that you could fight for justice by doing that?
I can be a cape-less super hero when I grow up too.

I've taken the liberty of putting together a potential future list of Kentucky role models for consideration:

Renee Shaw - host of Connections with Renee Shaw, a KET interview and discussion series that explores the cultures and concerns of Kentucky’s diverse minority communities and celebrates everyday heroes
Hasan Davis - Commissioner of the KY Department of Juvenile Justice
Kathy Witt - Fayette County Sheriff
Alison Lundergan Grimes - KY Senatorial candidate
Priscilla Johnson - former chair of the Kentucky Human Rights Commission
Marcellas Mayes - president of the Metro Disability Coalition in Louisville, a non-profit organization that promotes equality for people with disabilities
Silas House -  author, environmental activist

Note:  I love my kid's elementary school.  I have deep gratitude and respect for his teachers, his principal.  I even love his superintendent.  I have no doubt that they already have plans for different types of "role models" to be invited to assembly in the future.  I've never, even for a second, doubted their collective commitment to education and their passion to nurture and develop my boy.  But sometimes I disagree with them.  And that's OK.  They have always encouraged  and supported thoughtful push-back.  I bet every once in a while, they wished more parents would do the same. 

Gee, wonder what Plain Jane had to say about the time, the ENTIRE county cancelled classes for kids to attend the basketball finals?

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