Sports for our children is basically new for us. Sure, we’ve been involved in the random t-ball leagues for a couple of seasons but now, somehow, something has changed.
In an effort to “keep up with the Joneses” we signed our kid up to a team that is more competitive than he’s probably built toward. The spirit of team and the coach is not competitive, but the majority of the players are definitely more experienced, athletic, and intense than our little guy. This instantly has made us as parents freak out inside. “Did we do the wrong thing? How can he keep up? Does he understand that there are kids on the team that are so exceptional? Do we want him to know this or even care? How will he rise to their level if he’s so new? Why doesn’t he want to be better?” In our minds, we were constantly nervous, wanting our little guy to fit in, enjoy himself, and not slip between the cracks of learning basic skills of the game. But, we also understood the balance of having fun. At the heart of it all we KNOW that there can be lessons learned no matter what situation you are placed in….and that you can also have fun in the process.
So, the dilemma had nothing to do with our son. It’s us. All us. In fact, he really doesn’t mind.
The single most important thing I’ve learned from this so far is: Having my kid in sports is all about the lessons I’m learning as a parent.
How we act, or NOT act.
All we need him to do is show up, have fun. But we stressed. We worried. We wondered if we had him in the wrong league for his abilities and his personality. It pours over into our interaction with him. While we weren’t doing drills or making him carry his ball around throughout the week, there were tiny things we mention here and there that probably turned a one hour practice or game into ‘work’ for him. It surely and unconsciously chipped away at his joy. We didn’t mean to. Of course, we say, “Did you have fun, buddy?” But we also wrongly pointed out what could be different to make his experience better next time.
What we’ve really done is taken our own insecurities, our own worries, and we’ve poured them over onto our son.
I read this quote recently:
If you’ve put the fear of yourself into a child, how is there room for the joy of the Lord? – Ann Voskamp
This quote is applicable to so many facets of life.
But for my current situation, it showed me how we’re just stealing the joy of extra-curricular activities away from our son.
So now, we are learning to put blinders on and focus on his joy.
And how we do this is show up and shut up. No pressure. No pressure on him or ourselves.
What’s the risk? What do we lose? 90 dollars given to the YMCA and two months of Saturdays?
I’ll tell you right now that this face of joy:
and these giggles:
….is way better than any dollar amount and some sacrificed Saturday mornings.
We are not perfect parents. We’re just beginning to see what sitting in the bleachers looks like. And we are already quickly learning hard lessons of having a kid in a performance based activity. I’m discovering that the lessons that are being taught in this experience are mostly for me and how I can be a better encouragement, a support, a steadfast memory for my son. I want to have my kids look back and just remember that I was there. I want them to see my smiling face and know love. I want the memory of their activities to grow them, to teach them, but also to help them see this is a time where they are supported 100%.
I want them to feel worthwhile in what they do because of the love they feel from their parents….just like God loves us.
Two fantastic articles regarding this subject:
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