So, it’s happened.
R started curling three weeks ago, and… well, is doing as well as you’d imagine a four year old doing on his first time out. He’s watched enough to have an idea of what it looks like, but putting that into practice is a wholly different thing. But the idea of getting curling has been motivating him since, and that makes me quite, quite happy. We took a week off for an ASBC social, and then… we went again last Sunday, this time with the Monster.
So it’s official – my Monster is now a curler.
The biggest problem I faced, with taking the Monster curling, is that I can’t find a single social story to explain to him what it entailed. (Yes, that means I should make a social story and have my club post it on our site… give me time.) He’s seen it a bit when I watch it on the computer, but he’s not actually been on the ice for real, save for when we went to the melt-down party at the end of the year, and he got to ride around on a stabilizer. And that doesn’t count.
I spent part of the forty-five minute drive down talking about what we were going to be doing, in hopes that it’d stick a bit and that I’d have as little trouble as possible getting him to behave. R, of course, went through the whole drill the first time, so he was trying to be helpful here and there, but his excitement was definitely getting in the way. Something obviously clicked, since he didn’t give us (the wife came with, this time) any fight whatsoever when we had to change his shoes into a clean pair of sneakers for going onto the ice, and with some direction, he did most of the stretching with the dozen-or-so other children.
For him, it was the first time getting any kind of experience with sliding up and down the sheet with a slider, and it was the first time that I found a slip-on slider for each child that fit properly. We moved into the exercise of trying to work on the sliding again, which took a lot of work with the Monster… and taught me that I need to figure out how to explain the actual physical motions of a curling delivery to him. It’s hard enough when a child doesn’t understand the concept of a ‘lunge’ or the like, and more so when he can’t give me verbal feedback, when I also know that his talker doesn’t have the right words for him to use with me.
After snack, the second half involved teaching the kids how to sweep as part of a game to see if the children who’d learned to deliver were applying what they learned, by throwing to the children’s houses that are half-way down the sheet. This was far, far more effective, since I can teach the sweeping part very well to children – it’s easier to correct and to show them how to grip the broom shaft. (Getting them to sweep effectively is a different story, but… you build to that.) As one might imagine, R was far more enthusiastic about throwing the stone than sweeping, but the Monster, who is “sweet and compliant” as his IEPs constantly remind us, was very happy to come out and sweep. And sweep. And sweep.
We have to work on his keeping up with the stone when delivered, with his getting lined up before the stone’s delivered and paying attention. We have to work on his actually sweeping in front of the stone, and doing something to help with getting the rock to where it’s supposed to be on the sheet. But these are all things that continued practice will teach him, and will get easier when he’s getting bigger. After all, he’s eight, and has these short, stubby legs to try to keep up with a moving stone.
He’s not yet shown any interest in the other kids who are at curling, and that’s alright – most of them were more involved with the mechanics of the game than with the other children. I can hope that it changes over time, since curling’s also a social sport, but I’m realistic and also don’t know how long it took him to know any of his classmates, to get accustomed to his teachers. And therefore, I’ve no idea how long it might take him to get used to being on the ice and being at the curling center.
But it’s a very good start, and he certainly seems interested in going back. I’ll take it.
We don’t have curling today due to the fall festival at his school, and then there are bonspiels the next two weekends… but in three weeks, it’s back to the ice for both kids…