Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Sports and Children

I am thinking hard about my boys' sports involvement for the fall, and wondering if it's time to make some changes. What I'm wrestling with is fencing. One has been fencing for 2 years and really enjoys it. He's not great or anything, but he likes it and it's worked well for him. But it's expensive, it's even more expensive to think of Two joining him (which he can very soon), and the practice times are during dinner 3 nights a week.

We've never been an "everyone at the dinner table" kind of family. We've pretty much made things up as we've gone along, and it's been much more common for no one to be in this house from 6 to 8 at night than for people to be here. Husband has worked late, One has had practice and games in a myriad of sports - there's just been a lot going on.

But now that Husband is at his new job, we're home every night for dinner. He's not travelling, he comes home before the kids go to bed, and we all sit down and eat together. I like it. A lot. And I'm dreading fencing starting up in the fall and taking that away. In addition, I'm going back to work 40 hours a week in August, so the only time I will be able to see the boys is from, you guessed it, 6 to 8.

Husband has a very valid point: One has quit lacrosse, baseball, soccer, tae kwon do, and basketball so far, and he's only 8. Now we could add fencing to that list, and what does that teach him? I don't like it either. I want him to get with something and stick to it. But then again, I skated for 7 years as a child and haven't touched a pair of skates since my early 20's. Husband swam competitively from the age of 4 until 18 and hasn't swum a lap in 20 years.

What is our goal in enrolling kids in sports? Is it a pleasant diversion + exercise that also fits into the current family schedule? A way to teach discipline and single-minded devotion to one sport? Or an introduction to a hobby that we hope they will have for the rest of their lives? It can be all of those things, some of them, or something else all together.

Right now I'm leaning for diversion, exercise and hopes for a future hobby. Towards those goals, I'm thinking about keeping them in swim lessons and adding tae kwon do at a different gym (One hated the old gym). And, of course, dropping fencing. The boys can do both TKD and swimming together at the same time between school dismissal and my arrival home. And it will cost the same to have 2 in TKD as it will to have 1 in fencing.

But I'm still thinking and praying about this. It's a harder decision than I want it to be.


Anonymous said...

I hear you. With three kids getting older (and having been a very serious athlete myself) it's something that we also wrestle with, for all the same reasons. Financially it's not cheap, but even harder is the schedule! It's SO hard for me to run from work to daycare and then around to activities, still make sure homework gets done, dinner is served, etc. I'm run pretty ragged during the week...and the youngest isn't even in sports yet!
(we don't count swim lessons as a sport, although certainly it's the most expensive and still time out of the week - but for me, it's a life skill and necessity, not an "optional" activity).

Our rule is one sport (again, not counting swim lessons) per season, but we already break that just for our middle child - he is SO athletically inclined, and loves everything so much (he begs to do more!) that I let him do soccer and karate at the same time. The oldest has been doing karate for 1 1/2 years now, but will probably add baseball to that this spring. I guess my "rule" of 1 sport per season isn't holding up...but it's hard with something like karate that is so individual and year-round.

Anyway, I'm rambling. But I feel your pain. Both my husband and I were athletes, so I can't imagine not putting up with it, no matter how expensive and time consuming. I guess I figure it's part of parenting?

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

I know. These things are so hard.

I mean, I've heard. We just registered Shep for soccer - the first extracurricular we have ever done.

I think the dinner time thing should perhaps trump all. Studies show...blah blah. It is a good habit to get into.

And as far as sports, I think the point is to try all kinds of things, until you find one they fall in love with (or, to find out they are not sporty at all, like moi. So then they become writers ;).

And discontinuing something is not the same as QUITTING, to me quitting means you flake out mid season. To just not do something again in the fall isn't quitting! He can't do everything forever.