We pulled Casey from his baseball team last week. I'm not going to go into all the reasons why here, I'm just going to say I should have listened to my intuition earlier in the season.
Casey was picking up on the negative vibes the coaches were throwing around and at nine-years-old I think they should be focused more on teamwork and growing skills. Even this late in the season, I don't think the kids knew one another names. Pedar tried talking to the coaches on behalf of several parents a few weeks ago after a particularly hard game, and things only improved for a game. I know they are volunteer coaches and I know it's not easy, but after watching the boys play other teams that were so much more supportive of one another and seeing players actually move around in different positions, I knew it could be different. I think unfortunately a lot of coaches only volunteer in order to push their agenda and are not in it for the greater good.
At some point it occurred to me that we paid to be on this team and we can choose to not be on this team as well. It was completely freeing.
If I tell my son that doing his best is all he needs to do and he feels that isn't true, than I need to make a change.
Why are we training our kids to be little gladiators? Why are we so competitive? Are they really learning teamwork? Are most adults still playing team sports? Well, are you? Do we really think most nine-year-old boys are going to play professional baseball? Aren't most sports just hobbies? Shouldn't it be more fun?
Pedar and I work full time. We are home usually around 5:30 p.m. This means I have three precious hours with my kids at night before they go to bed. If we sign up our children for a sport, I'm not going to sugar coat it-- it is time and money consuming-- and I'm OK with my kids knowing that -they better LOVE the sport/activity, because it is costing us financially and more importantly, it is taking away from our family time. I don't have crazy professional sport aspirations for my kids. I want them to go to college and have healthy relationships and bodies. We don't have much time or spare money to pursue sport/art talents. I know that doesn't sound very nice, but it's real. Most kids will not be professional athletes or superstars of any kind. We don't have to kill ourselves to enroll them in every sport/activity they fancy.
Pedar and I did not have much of an extracurricular life after school and we enjoyed our childhood experience. Do I wish I had had dancing and singing lessons? Sure! But my parents would not have been able to support lessons and audition opportunities. They were scraping a living together. I'm happy with the parts I got from the raw talent I had to work with. I started receiving a paycheck at 15-years-old and have never stopped, and you know what, I am more proud of my work ethic than my singing, dancing or track meets. I know how to work really hard and it has always served me very well. I put myself through college and because of that I have been able to enjoy several wonderful jobs that have helped pay for our life.
Pedar may not have played competitive soccer or baseball as a kid, but he is an awesome skier and he loves to bike ride. He is also super handy. He learned a lot of skills from building houses in Mexico with his youth group, and spending time with his Dad, Great Uncle and Grandpa. He had time to help his Dad and Uncle and Grandpa because he wasn't consumed in sports. I am a grateful that he has these handy skills and I know he is grateful for the time he spent with these awesome men in his life.
We will help our children pursue their natural talents, because I believe they will carry that with them the most. We will also tell them that we want them to complete a college education no matter what.
Pedar is still skiing, biking, drawing, painting and he recently returned to playing the piano. I still love to sing and dance and even run a bit, but I've learned through the years that I have natural talents I didn't even know about. I'm an awesome gardener and organizer.
If we tell our kids to be positive, listen and be helpful and we are not positive and helpful, then whatever sport/talent they pursue, it won't matter. They won't learn it elsewhere. They will mimic our behavior more than anything else.
We need to be kind and supportive to one another more than anything else. We should brag in front of our children about how much we helped our neighbors, family and friends more than we talk/ brag about how many miles we ran or how many hours we worked.
Relationships make magic happen in the real world. It is our reputation and connections that can help us reach our potential. Being the best pitcher/runner/goalie/golfer only lasts for the length of the game. Who did you serve? Who did you impact?