SPORTS AND OTHER ACTIVITIES:
When our children are babies we like to take them to parent/toddler groups to get acquainted with other parents and children of similar age. So it’s no wonder that, when children get a little older, they want to investigate a variety of activities. How do we ascertain which activities to choose and what if we as parents don’t agree on the activities or the amount of time or money to spend on them?
When my son was eleven months old he saw his first glimpse of soccer and wanted to join in. The two college boys who were scrimmaging obliged him. He kicked well! They said, ‘He’s the next David Beckham’. We were living in England at the time.
There are so many activities available for children, including sports and music and the arts and intellectual training in general. So how do we choose? I confess that most of the programming ideas have come from me; my husband has been very obliging, supportive of my decisions. He’s taken an interest in our son’s activities but when it seemed to my husband to be too much time or too much variety, he’d put on the brakes and say, ‘no more’!
How have I chosen the activities? Chiefly from observation of my son and sometimes by responding to his appeals.
When my son was 2 he asked for piano lessons; when he was 4 he wanted to play the violin. When I was 7 month pregnant I was at a symphony concert and I prayed that God would make my son musical, so I was already attuned (no pun intended) to this avenue of training. Currently, our eight year old boy plays both violin and piano. Some day two instruments will have to give way to specialization in one. In the meantime, we’ve had many a heart-to-heart when son wanted to quit and even I yearned for peace rather than the turmoil of practice. But each time I’ve gone to the LORD, He’s urged me to persevere. Whatever the LORD has for my son He needs his character to develop and music is a tool for that. Whether or not music itself is a part of the long-term development of my son remains to be seen. But I certainly want to continue to submit to the LORD.
“Train up a child in the way he should go and when he grows old he will not depart from it.” Proverbs 22:5-7
If I want my son to be submitted than surely I must model that. Further, if I want my son to be able to persevere then there must be avenues of testing.
My son has good balance and was on a bike when he was two. His cousins taught him to do a cartwheel before age 3 so thereafter, as I saw as much of his feet in the air as his head, I initiated opportunities for him to see gymnastics meets. He was enthralled. Eventually he joined a club and way led to way until he now competes. But the road was not smooth. At one stage he wanted to quit to pursue hockey. So we let him. But within weeks he missed the gym and had lost interest in hockey. So he finished out the season, for the sake of his teammates we said, and has become more intrigued than ever with gymnastics. Fortunately, his coaches in both sports were empathetic and supportive and we put it all down to good experience. I confess my husband knew all along son wasn’t really interested in hockey, but I think the Canadian in me had to let him follow his curiosity. In any case, I’ve learned to be less attuned to my son’s short term whims and more attuned to his long term or deep-seated interests.
“But He knows the way that I take; when He has tested me I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:12
For me it was right to take on the extracurricular development aspect of our son’s upbringing as a part of my parenting. It hasn’t been an easy road. Our son likes to whinge – British for whine with an added grating, ear-piercing sound that goes right into my temples. And when he has complained about his practicing or his lack of desire for something he has to do, it really, really tests my patience. BUT I am reminded too of one of my favourite passages of scripture,
“Forgetting was is behind and straining toward to what is ahead, I press on…: Philippians 3:13
Lately, my son has found joy and fulfillment in practicing his music. We seem to be at the crest of a hill. There will be other hills and even mountains but in all things that are important there is struggle.
As to my husband in all of this, I take my hat off to him! He’s allowed us to wrestle through the temptations and trials of extra curricular activities without complaint, giving input, being involved, paying fees! But he hasn’t had the observation I’ve had for son’s interests and so he hasn’t interfered just for the sake of offering opinion or input. Instead he’s played a major role in determining the amount of time to spend on activities so as not to tire or spoil our child.
We each have our roles in family. Sometimes there is harmony and sometimes there is conflict. But as we aim to be true to ourselves and to one another we can ensure we’re on God’s page for what is best. He knows the future and the best way to get to where we need to be as adults. I wouldn’t want it any other way.