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By way of background, as an infant/toddler, my son had physical problems: always sick and underweight for his height. He was diagnosed with a mild heart valve defect and he had a lot of allergies. In Kindergarten, we had a lot of problems because he still physically needed a nap and they did not allow it. We also had to supplement him with Pediasure at times because he'd get sick and practically skeletal. Despite his stature, he had quite a temper. We'd joke that his arms looked like flying spaghetti.
Anyhow, when he entered the first grade, we enrolled him in gymnastics one day a week. We felt that it was important for him to have some physical activity and we felt that gymnastics was a good choice given his stature.
A lot of times he'd give us a hard time about going, but he always seems to have fun when he gets there. The complaints revolved around "I'm too tired to go" or "It takes my video game/tv time". He has only been taking gymnastics on Saturdays for an hour a week for the past 3 years.
Anyhow, since starting gymnastics in the first grade, my son has physically become healthier. We don't know if it is the gymnastics. But while he's still on the small side (we are not tall people), his weight and height are now proportioned and he rarely gets sick.
In the 2nd grade, after watching Riverdance, my son started tapping around the house last year, and I asked him if he'd like to try dancing. He said yes, but it was too late in the year. But this September, we enrolled him dance lessons. He takes Tap, and he also agreed to give Ballet a try, with the understanding that he would not get shoes if he did not stick it out for a month. Well, he begged us for the shoes, we caved, and now he often complains that he doesn't want to go. But he gets there and enjoys himself.
And at home, he puts his shoes on and taps around. And when the school had auditions for a performance, we were not going to take him. We had enough of arguing with him to go to the lessons, we weren't about to have him sign up for the performance and give us a hard time about it. But the day of the audition, he cried and begged, so we took him. Now our son is going to be in this performance.
We have noticed a definite difference in his muscle tone in his legs since taking these dance lessons, although I do think that ballet and tap (2 hrs) on a school night might be tough. If he continues, I'd probably not do them on the same night again.
Anyhow, this past Saturday, his gymnastics teacher asked if we had considered gymnastics competitions for our son. He said that our son stands out in his class as strong and flexible. I was kind of surprised, because he has always been in the "Level 1" boys class for the past 3 years and strength was an issue. Apparently something has changed.
Anyhow, my son complains at times that his back hurts. This has happened a few times. Even though he did not have any physical activities this week, tonight he complained that his leg hurts. Sometimes he complains that his legs hurt the day after dancing.
I realize that aches and pains are a part of sports, but should I be concerned about the back complaints?
Does anyone feel that I am doing the wrong thing by sending my son to these activities when he doesn't want to go, even though his health has improved, and he seems to enjoy them once he's there (and actually cries if I make the choice to withhold the activity)?
Should I encourage my son to compete in gymnastics or just be grateful that he goes and cooperates when he's there? Should I be concerned that his aches/pains are a sign that he is being hurt in gymnastics? That perhaps they have begun to push my son beyond his abilities to test him out before they asked us about competition?
This isn't just a matter of letting him pick something else. My son says that he hates exercise (unless we decide to withhold it). We have emphasized to him the importance of physical activity because of his heart. We have been told that if he makes it through the growth spurt of puberty, that he will likely be "home free", but he will always have to be conscious of his health because of the narrowing of his pulmonary valve. We want to instill in him the need for exercise while he is young.