My elder son loves to play TT and Badminton. He has picked up the basics of Table Tennis quite well from us but requires to learn more in badminton. He is a beginner. Now, he often wants mom and dad to play with him, and we can’t always find the time except weekends and even that is difficult these days. So, we told him to play with a good friend of his. This friend plays badminton well. We thought, it would be a good arrangement where both of them get to play both Table Tennis and Badminton with each other and learn as well. The fact that they were good friends made it even better.
So, last weekend they give this a shot. After playing for more than an hour of TT with his friend, his friend said that he was tired and would play badminton later. Later was in the evening. First, the friend turned up wanting to play TT again. But, my son insisted that they play badminton in the evening. With a little persuasion, they went. After half an hour, I saw him sitting in the park on the verge of tears.
When we asked him, he said that his friend ridiculed his play because he was losing easily and instead called another boy to play with him and asked him to go away. All this did not happen very politely. We were really surprised because this good friend of his is generally a nice boy. What can we say! We had to say that we will be playing with him over the weekend and that will include badminton too. Yesterday, he chatted again with that friend, and he said that he does not wish to play with my son because he feels bored, as it is so boring to play with a novice!
It is really so sad that I have to teach my son about friendship and helping each other out. And, in the same vein teach him that he must not be taken advantage of, that exchanges must be fair and that even friends hurt you. Why do I need to teach him all this? Should he be knowing these things himself? Is he too naive? There are times when he comes home crying because a boy kicked him in the groin while playing or kicked him while playing football. I don’t want to interfere when kids have squabbles, but don’t I have to intervene when he gets hurt physically? But then boys play physical games all the time. I find myself having many chats with him because he is vulnerable and sensitive, prone to being hurt easily and crying. And, we can’t be around to protect him always.
Update: He is in a slightly awkward group. Children his age are shorter and play games like hide and seek etc. whereas with his taller build, he prefers football, TT and badminton. Those are generally played by older boys and that is where lies the problem. He makes his own friends, and I don’t remember telling him how to choose his friends. I only want him to know how to stand up for himself and not to suffer any form of abuse.