This spring we signed Drake up to play t-ball. He played on a 4 year old team where everybody gets the chance to bat (and the last batter hits a “home run”) and everybody on the team fields the ball and they repeat this for 3 innings or about an hour total. You know what t-ball with four year olds look like? Chaos and boredom and sitting down picking grass and being mad that you are not the one to hit a home run. And don’t even get me started about the double –header (yes, you read that right) that we had to play to make-up a game that was rained out. Remember how I told you these kids are four? Yep, the four year olds played a double header.
You might be wondering to yourself right now why we even had Drake play if I’m going to come on here and complain about how awful it was. Well, to be quite honest because everybody else was. Pretty much all of Drake’s friends are playing t-ball and most likely they will all play soccer in the fall. Actually now that I mention it they will probably be playing almost any organized sport that is offered from now on because THEY ARE FOUR and if we don’t start them in organized sports right now they will never, ever be able to compete when they are older.
I hate this. I hate the whole idea that in order for your child to have any chance of success at a sport or really anything (dance, karate, etc.) they need to be playing it before they even enter Kindergarten. I feel so conflicted and angry about this. I want Drake (and Charlie when he gets older) to spend his summer going to the pool and enjoying long lazy nights at home playing in the backyard or running around the neighborhood with their friends. I want to grill hot dogs and eat watermelon for dinner as a family instead of feeding the kids quick before we head to game and Ben and I shoveling food in our mouths late in the evening after we get home. I just want my kids to be kids. Especially when they are so, so little still.
But…here it comes…I also want them to have every chance at success that they possibly can and unfortunately that means starting your kids in organized sports at the age of four. We had one particular bad morning at the ball park with Drake. He did not want to play, he wanted to sit in the outfield and pout and pick grass, he wanted to bat when the other team was suppose to bat and overall he just did not want to be there. It resulted in me taking him to the car while Ben stayed and finished coaching the game. As I sat in the car I felt frustrated and sad. Frustrated at the way he was acting (forgetting for a moment that he is four) and sad that we signed him up for something that he was not enjoying. At that moment I made the decision that if he did not want to play t-ball this year, he would not play t-ball this year.
I know a lot of people would probably think that I’m letting my kid have the easy way out and this would be a great time to teach a lesson about not quitting, and good sportsmanship and all that other crap, but all I saw was a little four year old boy who was miserable. I’m going to mention again I saw a FOUR YEAR OLD boy who was miserable. So quitting was absolutely an option although he did decide to return for the next game.
All of this to say that I’m so sad that childhood is being replaced with commitments and over scheduling and things that our children have their whole life for. I’m sad that in order to be competitive (especially in a larger school district) kids have to start playing competitively early and often. I’m just so stinking sad about the whole thing.
The one thing that I know for sure is that I refuse to be a parent that makes my child participate in a sport or any organized activity they don’t enjoy. I want my boys to be in control of what they participate in and not get distracted by what I want them to participate in because their dreams for themselves just might be different than my dreams for them. I want to keep that written in my mind and on my heart so that I never loose sight of what is important….my boys and THEIR dreams.