As my daughter gets older, she is creeping up on the age where all of these extra curricular activities enter the scene. T-ball being the number one example in my neck of the woods. I cannot tell you how many times over the last two months I have been asked if Khloe is going to play t-ball. What? I don’t know. Ha! She cannot play until she is 4 years old. Which will mean even if she is going to play, it will be Summer 2015. All of these questions did get me thinking, though. Do I even care to sign her up for t-ball? Probably not. Now, before I get a million parents (more often moms) freaking out on me, let me explain.
Where I live, almost every child plays little league t-ball, football, and cheerleading. If your child doesn’t play, what kind of horrible lazy parent are you?! Well, here is the thing: It is not that I don’t want my child playing sports or participating in extra curricular activities. I want her to do anything and everything available. And then everything she finds that I didn’t even know about. Here’s the catch.. I would rather her do things outside of the normal box. Art. Karate. Martial Arts of any kind. Dance. Gymnastics. Rodeo. Guitar lessons. Singing lessons. Theater. Golf. Who knew they offer golf lessons starting at age 5?? Well, I just recently found out that they do! I’m weird, I know. What southern, small town mom doesn’t want their sweet daughter being cheer captain?! **Here I am with my hand raised jumping up and down.** I honestly don’t. I mean, if she starts Kindergarten and begs to play t-ball or cheer with her friends, sure we’ll sign up and attend every practice and game. I just don’t see the big deal of preparing for this a year in advance? (And all of this is coming from the person who played t-ball and softball and was a cheerleader from mascot to JV.) That’s all I was able to do. I wish I could have had broader activities as a child. I had to wait until I was old enough to make my own choices to start branching out. Why would I continue the cycle and limit my own child??
I want a child who I enable to see the world and view the world from a bigger perspective than most kids are able to. Shouldn’t that be on every mom’s priority list? I just don’t believe sports should be the heart and soul of my daughter’s childhood. How many people from my graduating class took their athletic careers past high school? Hm.. I’d say maybe 10 out of 118. From those 10 not a single one has carried that sport beyond their undergraduate careers. So exactly WHAT is the big deal of pushing the issue?
I agree about wanting my daughter to be active and healthy. Who says she can’t be those things with out t-ball? (I want to make it clear that I do not hate t-ball. It is the cutest and sometimes most hilarious thing I have ever witnessed.) My concern here is how stressed out parents seem to be about these things. The people asking me if our daughter was going to play t-ball have a child the same age. They have to wait another year too! Why are they already getting excited about this a year before their child is even eligible to play?? Am I being too negative?
I want my daughter to enjoy childhood. If playing sports does make her happy, then by all means I’ll sign her up for every one. However, I have watched as children cry because they do not want to attend practice, let along play or participate an entire season, and be forced to straighten up and get out there and play. Who benefits from that??! If you don’t like every activity out there, then your child isn’t going to either! I think this is the problem I have with the sudden obsession acquaintances have about my child signing up for a sport that is a year away. Who are you really signing them up for? For your child so that they can learn work ethic and team work or for you because you want to be a member of the cool parent club?
The final thing that shut me down on the whole t-ball subject was about a month ago, a friend of mine was telling me about her two children who are on a team together this year. She said that another mom stands and shakes the fence yelling at her child. If it is somehow a double hit, etc. the mom will scream and shake the fence telling her daughter to get on second base. SHE YELLS THIS AT A CHILD WHO IS YOUNG ENOUGH TO PLAY T-BALL. T-BALL. Her child has to be no older then 7 years old. I was speechless. And quite honestly I was a little mortified at what that same situation would teach my child. I am sad at what it is teaching the lady’s child and I do not even know either of them. I could not do it. I know that I cannot shelter my child from all negative things in the world, but jeez, that seems a little extreme. Sadly enough, its not uncommon.
So when I say that I question the necessity of my child playing sports, it is not because I insist she be an outcast or because I want to force her into an activity of my choice. It is actually quite the opposite. I want my daughter to have the freedom to develop into who she wants to be and who she is meant to be. Not a clone of what I loved as a child or who I want her to be. She is not me and I do not want to force her to be. Lord knows that is the last thing she would need. She is beautifully and wonderfully unique. I think I prefer to encourage her to stay that way.
Even if it means she loves playing t-ball and ends up pitching for Team USA.
One thing is for sure, it’ll be her choice. (;