Well-rounded isn’t just for balls
posted by: gretchen
I have a confession.
When we drive by sports fields on Saturdays and Sundays, and I see dozens of uniformed kids and their parents? I am so glad we aren’t there.
American suburban families who do not participate in soccer, baseball, hockey, t-ball, or any other organized league sports are rare. It’s expected for our weeknights to be claimed by practice time. Weekends are gobbled by game days. Money is consumed by uniforms, special shoes, equipment, fees, team pictures, trophies, dinners, gifts for coaches, and gasoline. For those whose kids are on elite teams, add travel expenses. Sometimes, I wonder if team sports are more about the social opportunities they provide than for the athletic benefit of the kids.
I am greedy with our time, especially the weekends. The logistics would be a nightmare and money isn’t unlimited. Do our kids suffer?
I don’t think so.
They get the team experience by being in a classroom at school. They get it by working together with their five siblings on family projects, chores, and games. They have friends to play with, a yard for romping, bicycles in the garage, and a daddy who is a former soccer coach and volleyball whiz who knows all the cool tricks. They also live in one of the best states for outdoor activities. They beg to visit the mountains to hike trails.
Their rooms aren’t filled with participation trophies, cleats, or shin guards. But three of them have had work shown in art shows over the past several years, and two of them have blue ribbons for first place finishes in poster contests. When the Young Writer’s Conference rolls around, they sign up immediately and work hard on their stories, which are always well received. They treasure the t-shirts and certificates from these endeavors. Our daughter has sold two pieces of art, and she’s only eleven.
They’ve worked hard to earn badges in Girl and Boy Scouts. My oldest is learning the joys of volunteering. Piano and violin have made music for our ears. One kid is writing a movie and has made a storyboard. Our daughter taught herself how to embroider. Well-rounded isn’t just for balls.
I am not a pit-bull Hockey Mom. I am a Sewing Mom. A Short-Story Mom. A Violin Mom. I still wear lipstick, but you’ll never read a story about me in the paper getting into a fistfight with the orchestra leader.
When people find out our kids don’t do team sports, we get two reactions:
1. All kids should play a team sport. Sign them up immediately.
2. Oh, I wish we had never started team sports.
The pressure to participate, mostly from other parents, is enormous.
Before anyone accuses us from keeping our children out of sports against their wishes, you should know that none of them has asked. Ever. They know their friends do it, and that is fine for their friends. Often, their backpacks are jammed with registration papers and flyers for different sports leagues, and I ask if they are interested. They simply aren’t right now.
The future may bring a new outlook, for them and for us. One or more of our children could express an interest in a sport, and we will support them as they investigate if it’s a good fit. Logistics would be mastered, money could be found.
And I’ll slice oranges for the next game.