Jackson is playing Upward Basketball this season. Not only is his team doing very well and he’s enjoying himself, but he’s done a great job handling the wide range of emotions involved with playing team sports. So far, so good.
(He’s the kiddo in the dark red shoes in the foreground.)
Competition is hard for any kid, but for Jackson, whose emotions swing fast on a long pendulum, the high of winning and the low of losing keeps his temperament bubbling at the surface.
One of the best ways it’s been explained to me is this: We all operate at different emotional levels from one to ten. When we’re calm and chill, we’re around a two or three. Some of us need lots of stress (good or bad) to push us to a five, seven, nine, etc. Some of us don’t need very much at all to lose our temper. Some of us who are more high-strung may operate all the time around a five or six, always waiting for something to happen and living in the tension of thinking doom is right around the corner. Some of us are so cool and collected that we hardly ever reach a ten.
For Jackson, he functions at a nine almost all the time. Good or bad, happy or sad, his emotions are always RIGHT THERE.
That is Jackson with the ball – No. 11 – shooting.
He scored, by the way. He’s scored a couple of times so far this season and it’s given Chuck and I the greatest joy to see him succeed in that way.
But more so, we’ve been so pleased to see how he’s interacted with his teammates, how he’s handled a loss (lots of tears, but he managed!), and how eager he’s been to try harder.
Upward has been good for him because the program is designed to encourage the best parts of team sports – camaraderie, good sportsmanship, effort, and everyone gets the same amount of play time regardless of skill.
They won this particular game, as you can tell by his face. So far this season they are 3-1.
Sometimes I think back to how Jackson was at one and a half years old, the first time I considered that something might be different about him. Then at two, when he screamed and thrashed and couldn’t communicate with us. By three he’d established self-soothing habits and was enrolled in early intervention to help him learn how to talk.
By four we could finally understand him and by five he was learning how to read. Even then, with so much progress, I wasn’t sure where we’d end up – and frankly I still don’t know. How can we ever really know where our children will land after we’ve done all we can for them?
Jackson is smart, so loving, and eager to make a happy moment with others. Upward has been great for him, so I see him playing more sports with them in the future.