My husband's sport to play, watch and breathe is baseball.
He played baseball throughout his school years and even now plays on a Sunday Softball League. So when our 5 year old was finally old enough to be signed up for t-ball, you could only imagine my husband's excitement. And when it came time to hand out uniforms, it warmed my heart to hear him say, "I want to be number 5 like daddy". Upon sensing George's excitement to play, my husband enthusiastically signed up to volunteer, and who could imagine,not even himself, that he'd end up being the head coach. He researched drills and coaching practices found on blogs ironically titled, Pray for Rain.
When George, being the youngest 5 year old on the team, took to the grass for his first practice, his age became apparent, swinging the bat like it was a lead weight and running after balls like it was a game of tackle football. And when he took to the field in his first game, what became apparent was his....sense of humor. He burped and joked to the other kids on the bench. His zig-zag run to the bases became a dance of shuffling dirt. The outfield was his own personal sandbox. And his turn up at bat was more like he took stage and the spotlight was on him. While one of the coaches was giving him pointers and trying to get him to look at the ball, showing him the correct way to hold the bat, his head was turned in the other direction, yelling jokes to his teammates on the bench.
He loved every second of it. And isn't that the point?
Where we look at sports as a way to nurture dreams, maybe the message is just that, let your kids be kids.
I swam my entire life from the age of 4 until I graduated college. Swimming was and is in my blood. I wanted to be an Olympian and break multiple world records. The walls of my room were adorned with pictures of Mary T, The Albatrosse, and pages I'd update with goal times above my bed, as if the success would come to me in my sleep. Even though I had a couple failed attempts at making the Olympics, I was successful. Swimming took me around the world, provided me with a great education to one of the best schools in the country and provided me with many experiences I carry with me today.
Swimming shaped me into whom I am, as a friend, a wife and a mother.
My dad always recounts my start in swimming, at the age of 5, the same age my son is now, walking down to the pool in the apartment complex so I could learn to swim from the life guard who had "taken me under her wing".
30 years later,I still remember her face.
He also recounts with vivid description and expressions I'll never forget, my first experience with earning ribbons and winning and losing. He says throughout my swimming career, especially early on, I was in the moment, enjoying life and enjoying swimming. And he's right. I can't recount a lot of the experiences I had in swimming, I remember making great friends,traveling to beautiful places and setting goals. I remember the successes and of course the let downs, but the emotion I get from remembering swimming is as clear as day.
I remember the feeling you get on a Saturday morning, when the air is just right, entering the cool water on the first warm up for a weekend meet.
I remember the smell of chlorine that often hung with me through out the day.
I remember what it felt like to achieve my goals, what it felt like to have dreams to chase and what it felt like to be involved.
I lived and breathed swimming.
I never remember my parents pressuring me. Of course, when I realized swimming was something I wanted to do they encouraged me to stay committed and involved.
But I never remember feeling like it was something I HAD to do, it was something I WANTED to do.
They nurtured MY dreams they didn't create them for me. They didn't base MY dreams off their own.
Maybe that's the key.
When your 5 year old takes the field in a t-ball game, erase images of future Ryan Howards and Shane Victorino's and remember that it is exactly that....your 5 year old taking the field in a t-ball game.
What's baseball today, may be 7 card Poker tomorrow.
Watch your kids grow and develop.
Watch their interests change, their humorous side come out, introduce them to new things and let them become their own being.
And watch what dreams my come.
This is a post from my blog on May 5th 2010. Check it out: My Life in Jenga.