My husband was a search and rescue pilot in the military for many years. It meant crazy hours, middle of the night call outs, and the inability to commit to coaching any of our kids sports teams. So in the fall of 2008 when Nora was 5 years old I decided I would coach her soccer team. Up until that point she had been your typical third child being dragged around to her big sisters activities. Nora had little interest in joining things and when I look back now I see it was because it overwhelmed her senses.
However, my momma guilt was in overdrive and I thought what better way to get her involved in something but to sign her up for soccer. I knew she would never do it unless I was on the field with her so I volunteered to coach. I mean how hard can it be to coach a group of 5 year olds. I loved kids and I loved being outside…..nevermind the fact that I had not played soccer since high school. So I prepared cut up oranges and made up lots of fun kicking activites and set out to coach. I am not going to lie, I was good! The kids loved me because I ran around and played with them. We spent 6 weeks laughing, learning to pass the ball to our friends, running, and eating a lot of oranges. The only problem was my kid didn’t set foot on the field once. Well that is not true, she walked out once to tell me she needed to pee!
Every week for 6 weeks we would go to the field and every week for 6 weeks Nora would sit in the chair upside down and watch us. Her little friends would go over and ask her if she wanted to play. Her sisters tried to encourage her to go out on the field. Her daddy would come and help out in hopes she would want to play. She never left the chair from the moment we set it up until it was time to put it away. She wasn’t unhappy or scared. She wasn’t shy and would often cheer us all on. She just didn’t want to play!
I look back now and see why. It was so fast and loud and there were other fields filled with other people running fast and being loud. It was overwhelming for her and in order to cope she would sit upside down in the soft comfy chair that almost cocooned her. It made her feel safe and secure in a situation that made her senses go crazy. I am thankful that she had the chair and that she knew instinctively how to self regulate herself.
Nora still does not enjoy team sports of any kind. She can now articulate why she doesn’t like them and it is the noise and speed at which they are played. The upside down chair picture comes out once and awhile. We all have a laugh at Nora’s very short soccer season….