Updated January 2, 2016. A revised excerpt from an article titled Through the Eyes of A Coach previously published in About Families PA Magazine , November 2007.
A class of 10, 4- and 5- year olds, were sitting quietly on the parachute awaiting my next direction when I noticed two from the group doing their own thing. They sat next to each other, and by this point one boy had already turned away from me while the other I still had a perfect view of.
The first boy, with his back to me, began holding up his fist to the other boy. I realized almost immediately that he was trying to use it to show the other boy something. And then I learned what that something was...as he...slowly began extending his middle finger upwards. And before long, I was watching a 5-year old flipping another child "the bird!"
My eyes widened and in unison my heart skipped a beat before beginning to race faster. I could feel the sweat beginning to build over my brow. The scene was more something out of Animal House, not an early learning sports class.
The whole incident probably lasted no more than 10 seconds but with every breathe, it felt like minutes off my life were expiring. Of course, it wasn't like I had never seen anybody flip the bird before, or have it bestowed upon me for that matter. I digress.
So there I was...anxiously awaiting the other little boy's reaction. And to my total and utter disbelief...he garnered a bigger smile than the first boy. Oh-my-goodness...no...this isn't good, I'd say to myself.
What kind of program was I running? This question scream across my mind as I thought about parents thinking the same as they, from their seats on the sidelines, potentially were watching this kookiness play out. It would be the thought that would jolt me out of my fog and prepare me to intervene.
As I leaned in to say something, the same boy, of course, was still smiling and flipping the bird, like a champion I might add. It was then when I would suddenly find myself, awkwardly so, doing the unthinkable. I began smiling...with them. What?
As I soon realized, in a sudden turn of events, I was the odd man out. What I had not originally recognized or accounted for based upon my limited vantage point was that there was a Sponge Bob band-aid on the middle finger of the first boy. He was cleverly displaying it with pride by flipping the bird as only a five-year old can.
“Is that a Sponge Bob band-aid?” I asked, relieved. We quickly moved on to more exciting things to occupy his mind and that of the rest of his peers...Thank God! See you in class!
About the author...
Dr. Kayden is a foremost expert on early learning in sport and the use of technology to overcome the dramatic effects of immaturity on sports participation.
Since 2006, he has worked with 1000's of families with early learners as an early learning in sports practitioner. It has led to his co-founding Chicago-based Coach Pickles' Jelly Bean Sports, an instruction, production and research company that currently offers non-competitive, movement-based, technology-driven early learning in sports programs that keep sports simple and make learning fun. Author, researcher, producer and coach, Dr. Kayden lives and works between Atlanta and Chicago and is the father to four early learners of his own.