My kids don’t play organized sports, but yesterday afternoon they formed a club called The Sparklers and took turns cleaning each other’s rooms. They used duct tape to hang up a blanket cordoning off the area so they could surprise us, and posted signs telling us to keep out.
Full disclosure: some team-infighting ensued, along with an incident or two involving the vacuum hose.
But in the end, three bedrooms and two bathrooms were…..presentable. BOO-yah! Oh, yeah! Take that, haters. Bat-swinging versus housecleaning: which skill will serve them better as adults? More importantly, which skill makes my life easier right now? Duh.
I am not against organized sports. I’m not! But in the good old days – when I was a kid – children’s sports weren’t so all-consuming, and they didn’t really get going until adolescence. I played basketball and volleyball in high school – but in elementary school? I played freeze tag.
Hot Firefighter Husband loves sports. He ran track in high school and college, and he desperately wants the Diva to be on a team. Any team. After she nixed every feasible sport, he decided she should play lacrosse. He did some research and discovered the lacrosse team practiced twice a week, right around dinner time, with games or tournaments every Saturday.
The Tyrant has an arm like Nolan Ryan. Softball? Practice 2-3 times a week, plus games. She’s six.
If these kinds of schedules fit into your family, that’s awesome. And by the way – I BELIEVE in team sports. They foster camaraderie, confidence and leadership; they help children develop physical skills and mental stamina. But at age 6? They foster headaches in the parents who have to spend hours carting the little players around, and who then have to slap together some dinner in five minutes flat when everybody finally arrives home.
I sort of resent the fact that if I don’t get my child involved in time-sucking sports programs right now, before she can even reliably shower by herself, I’ve supposedly doomed her to a nerdy, sport-less life. In my community, parents hire private coaches to help their kids excel in sports – while the children are still in elementary school.
But I’m not resentful enough that I’ll turn my afternoons into suburban NASCAR practice runs, fueling up my kids at convenience stores and McDonald’s. (Really, no McDonald’s, like, ever again. The pink slime business put me over the edge.) I just don’t believe that it’s a required part of childhood – especially when my kids aren’t begging to do it. Hell, they’re not even asking to do it.
And while I’m bitching – what about activities, rather than sports? Kayaking, running, swimming, surfing…can we count that stuff, please?
Okay, I’m done. To recap:
GO, SPARKLERS, GO! Don’t forget the baseboards.