Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Did she make the team or not????

I wanted to title this post, "A day in the life of a child with multiple, invisible disabilities", but decided that was a bit too long. It does fit, though.

Hannah tried out for the field hockey team at her middle school this week. First she went to a week of pre-conditioning, then three days of try-outs. I felt pretty confident that she would make the team because she is an awesome athlete. However, she is only a 7th grader and has never played field hockey at all, so it would depend on how many 8th graders were returning to the team and how many 7th graders have more experience than she does. I had heard that several 7th graders have done field hockey camps and rec leagues, so they would at least know the basic rules, which Hannah does not. She has played tons of roller hockey, since she was four, but field hockey is a lot different.

Let's go back to the second day of try-outs. Hannah was supposed to stay after school and go straight to the try-outs. Lo and behold, she walks in the front door with Shauna. Ugh, is my first thought. Turns out she has been feeling nauseous since lunch and didn't know what to do, so she came home. She told her friend, Shannon, to tell the coach that she was going home because she was sick. Usually, when Hannah feels sick like that, she just needs to eat, so I made her eat and lie down for a few minutes. After about 30 minutes, she felt much better and I took her to the try-out. The coach was surprised to see her and said she thought that Hannah had changed her mind about trying out. I explained the situation. Apparently, Shannon hadn't told the coach that Hannah was sick. Not much of a surprise there. Although Hannah and Shannon are friends and have been for 9 years, Shannon is very competitive in sports and since Hannah is a natural athlete, she always tends to outshine Shannon a little. Not too much, since Shannon is also a very good athlete. Hannah is not competitive at all and will slow down in both track and swimming, to let a friend catch up, even during meets, but it is important to Shannon to be the best. All during the try-outs, Shannon kept telling Hannah that she couldn't afford field hockey and she wouldn't like it, so she should try out for cheer leading instead. Since Hannah had thought about trying out for cheer, this was confusing for her. It made for a confusing week of conditioning, as Hannah waffled back and forth between field hockey and cheer. She ultimately decided to try out for field hockey and do cheer next semester.

Anyway, at the end of the third day of try-outs, she called me to come pick her up and told me she hadn't made the team. When she got home, we discussed it and she said that the coach had called her over and told her that someone had told her that Hannah wanted to try out for cheer. Hannah told her that she had wanted to try out for cheer (meaning that she HAD wanted to, but decided not to). According to Hannah, the coach said, "Well, if you want to cheer, go cheer." I had a feeling there was more to it, that Hannah didn't remember (not surprising :)!). I wasn't sure what to do. Should I call the coach (who is a neighbor and I have known for a long time, but not real well)? Or should I just let it be? Hannah was disappointed and mad because Shannon had obviously told the coach that Hannah didn't really want to play field hockey, which wasn't the way it was. I decided to wait until the next day and see if the coach called me.

That all happened on Friday and on Saturday, Hannah and her friend walked up to Rite Aid (a different friend, not Shannon). At Rite Aid, they saw the coach. The coach told Hannah that she missed her at practice that morning and that they were practicing on Monday, if she would like to come. HUH? Hannah told me that she was really confused about why coach would say that when she hadn't made the team. Now what do I do? Do I call the coach and try to explain that my perfect physical specimen of a child has a bunch of hidden disabilities and she has no idea if she made the team or not? Do you know how hard it is to explain hidden disabilities and how they affect thinking, when you barely can grasp it yourself? Plus, it is extra hard because many of the disabilities Hannah has are related to birth mom's drug and alcohol abuse, as well as her mental health, all things that I would like to keep as private as possible, at least around the neighborhood! Ugh.

I thought about it for a few hours and finally decided to send the coach an email, which I had planned to do anyway, thanking her for giving up her time for the conditioning, etc. I told her that I appreciated the conditioning and it was so good for Hannah to get that level of exercise after a relatively lazy summer and so on. I also said that even though Hannah hadn't made the team this year, she would try to get to some of the games to watch how the game is played and try out again next year. Here is part of her reply:

Did she not tell you? I saw her on Saturday and asked if she missed hockey and she said yes. So I told her to be there on Monday from 3:30-5:30 and she said yes. I almost called you but I figured she’d tell you. I sat her down during Friday’s horrible cuts and asked if she wanted to play hockey or Cheerleading. I heard she wanted to cheer. I told her she is an incredible athlete and would be great at anything she put her mind to. She said she really wanted to do cheer. So I told her to do what made her happiest; but I would always take her back. Then I saw her Saturday and she said she wanted to play hockey. So I am expecting to see her on Monday!

Hannah was really happy to find out she had actually made the team and so was the rest of the family! Then on Monday, she brought home a note that said they would have practice on Wednesday from 3:30-5:30, a scrimmage game on Thursday and no practice on Friday. I took this to mean they would have no practice on Tuesday, since it wasn't mentioned. So, Hannah didn't take her hockey stuff, per my instruction, yesterday and came home after school. Later in the evening, the coach called me to find out why Hannah hadn't been at practice. I explained the situation and she said that a bunch of kids told her that they told Hannah there was practice. I asked Hannah after I hung up and she said that one girl had told her, but that girl has lied to her before, so she didn't believe her. Of course, by the time she got home, she forgot to mention it to me. I would have driven her over there, if I knew.

Talk about getting off to a great start! How the heck am I supposed to explain this to the coach and let her know that Hannah was not trying to get out of practice (she loves it), but her brain works differently than most and this is what happens sometimes? This is the first time, other than doing a competitive cheer team when she was 5 & 6, that she had been in a sport, where I haven't been the coach or director, so I haven't had to deal with this. When she was in cheer, she was very little and I was always there with her, so this wasn't an issue. Luckily, the coach is very nice and wasn't mad about it, but I am sure I didn't do the greatest job explaining everything to her and she probably thinks we are all nuts here!

1 comment:

Miz Kizzle said...

I wouldn't go into details with the coach about your daughter's disability at this point. I'd tell her that she was confused and she thought she hadn't made the team. I'd also add that one girl told her there was practice but the girl had lied to H. before and she thought she was lying this time, too.
Coaches and teachers are used to kids who function on varying levels and they're well aware that sometimes kids misunderstand things and having to be told several times. They're bombarded with so much information every day that some of it just falls through the cracks. Stir adolescence into the mix and it's very understandable that kids have a hard time concentrating.
I'd stress to the coach how much Hannah likes playing but she's new to the sport and she needs to be reminded about things several times until she "gets" it.