Wednesday, June 23, 2010

On kids and sports

I remember pontificating one time, okay, maybe more times than once, that I thought kids were overscheduled and that *my* kids would only participate in one activity at a time outside of school (Spanish lessons, music lessons and Tumblebus aside since those are extracurricular through school, during their time). If there was more than one activity they wanted to do, then they had to make a decision.

This week my son has two tennis lessons, one soccer practice and swimming lessons.

In my own defense, tennis is ending this week and soccer is just starting. So there is really only one week where this craziness of three sports has taken hold.

Swimming lessons are every Saturday morning. Leif could kind of care less about swimming, but his sister is a fish. It would be easy to let swimming fall off Leif’s schedule, but both AB and I feel that swimming is an ultra-important skill that our children must possess. Our family cabin is on Puget Sound, about 100 feet from the water. There are boats and watercraft of all sorts during the summer. Not to mention that AB grew up swimming and it was his sport of choice. Oh and did I mention that we are hoping for a trip to Hawaii this coming year and want the kids to be able to swim... like in the ocean.

Then you toss in there the sibling factor… Skadi lives every day of her life looking forward to Saturday swimming lessons – this IS her one activity. She knows all the swim teachers and they know her... well. Since she was in parent-tot she was a little swimming star. The teachers love teaching Skadi because she does anything they ask. (This is the one time every week that Skadi does as she is told.) Check out the picture from the one session where her teacher decided to pass her up - way up. She did quite well, but it looked pretty funny in the picture her standing there with a 6, 7 and 9 year old and she was 2.5 and in a swim diaper.

We opted to put her back with kids her own age and the teachers promised not to let her stagnate - so far they haven't!

We did the divide and conquer thing one session where I took Skadi to swimming and Leif stayed home with daddy. And it isn’t that it didn’t work… it just wasn’t ideal. We like being together as a family, even if it is just for an hour of swimming lessons with mom and dad on the sides watching the kids perform.

This was really that turning point when we realized that one activity a week wasn't going to work for long.

Tennis. When I was five years old my mom put me in tennis lessons and I wore the cutest little white skort and went to Mike Cedar Park for my lessons. One of the older boys in my lesson made a snide comment to me – he made fun of me for having Kool-Aid in my water bottle. I responded in the manner that most girls that age would – I stuck my tongue out of him. My mom saw too. I thought I was going to be in so much trouble, but she thought it was hilarious. I played racquet sports off and off through my life. Mostly racquetball, like my mom and stepdad, but I also dabbled with tennis. Leif became strangely intrigued with tennis after playing it on the Wii. A few months ago he started asking for tennis lessons and I scrambled looking for options.

See as a working mom, you are terribly limited in summer sports activities. No one wants to teach summer sports on the weekends! I finally bit the bullet and signed Leif up for four lessons over a span of two weeks as an introduction to tennis.

I sort of expected he would take the class, realize he wasn’t Andre Agassi (not that he knows who Andre is), and move onto something else. Instead Leif has declared that he “loves” tennis and it is “even better than baseball”. And not terribly surprising since the kid loves sports, he isn’t half bad at it. He was sporting his wicked backhand today. Yes, he knows what a backhand is now.

This is where mommy guilt stings. Because I can’t justify to continue taking off at 9:30am Monday and Wednesdays to go grab Leif from school (where he misses ultra-important calendar work) to drive across town for a half hour lesson, then drive back, deposit him back at school and run back to work and get there by 11am in order to further his tennis interest. Can I? I keep telling myself he is only 5 and 11/12th. There are going to be plenty of summers when I am clamoring for camps and such to enroll the kids in. He will probably get his fill of tennis then.

Soccer. Oh soccer, the most beloved of Leif sports. We do soccer through the YMCA in the summers as well as indoor soccer in the winter. And this year, given Leif’s enthusiasm over soccer, we have registered him for the competitive league that starts this fall. I think this officially makes me a soccer mom putting Leif in this league. Leif is all about soccer and during every recess at school he can be found on the soccer field. Daily he begs me to allow him to wear his cleats to school. Today he wanted to "just bring them in case" his teachers decide he can wear cleats on the playground. The boys cheer when he arrives in the morning and direct him to which team “needs help”. Leif very willingly complies because like his father, he likes to help the underdog. Not doing soccer? Not really an option unless I want one unhappy little boy.

I know people who slam sports, who think it ridiculous that we spend time running our kids around for sports practices and events. To each their own. Both AB and I were raised in families that prided physical activity. AB and his brothers were diehard swimmers. I was lucky, my mom worked at the YMCA and so I was able to take every single class I wanted to (hello disco dancing!) and my mom was lucky that she didn't have to pay for childcare.

I played volleyball and basketball from 5th grade through 9th grade, competed in track and field and competed in gymnastics through 10th grade, until I got an afterschool job instead. I ski both downhill and cross country, played tennis and racquetball (2nd in State Juniors in Wyoming), softball (which I absolutely despised though), swam and most recently ran (which I really need to get back to).

My parents taught me I could do anything and enabled me to pursue my interests. I wasn’t great at every sport, but I enjoyed them (except for softball) and learned the value of physical activity.

So when I run home from work on Monday and race to fix a quick dinner to eat on the run to soccer practice that starts at 6:15pm… yeah, it’s not ideal. But it’s the best we can do right now as working parents who are striving to enable their kids’ dreams. Not every child dreams about sports.

Mine does.

1 comment:

vanessa said...

We hustle for Cate's swimming and gymnastics. Thursdays during summer swimming are icky - we go from school to pool to gym. Poor Annika. But Cate loves all of this. And I can tell that she's going to love synchronized swimming, so we need to get her competency very high in regular swimming first. Of course, she just spent her entire "test" class "twirling" in between evaluations, so she didn't pass based on listening. Sigh.