Thursday, June 21, 2012

Not Quite the Summer of 1980

Remember the summer of 1980? It was hot. We biked all over town with our friends, played tennis at the high school courts, watched as Bjorn Borg defeated John McEnroe at Wimbledon, went camping with the family, and read lots of books to combat the boredom.

Welcome to summer 2012! The summer activities are in full swing and hours have already been logged behind the wheel, shuttling kids to and from practices, games, and camps. If you are a parent (or grandparent) of school-age kids, you know all too well what I'm talking about. It's baseball, basketball, music lessons, golf lessons and tee times, trips to the mall to meet up with friends, VBS, summer camps. I'll just stop right here. The list is endless and the kid activity schedule relentless.

Who is to blame for all of this over scheduling of kids during their summer vacation? That would be me—Mom and the rest of the parents. I think it's complete parent peer pressure at it's worst. We parents all talk about which camps and activities we have signed up for and want our kids to have just as much of an opportunity as all of their friends. If I discover that everyone else's kid is doing a certain camp, I haven't signed my kid up, and registration has closed, I will do whatever it takes and somehow find an open slot for my kid.

Then the coaches chime in with informative letters and e-mails loaded up with suggested activities that will help ensure your child-athlete's success on a particular team in the fall. Read between the lines here—Timmy really should take this camp and this training session as well as participate in these weekend tournaments. Otherwise Timmy may be all suited up, but sitting on the bench for the football season.

You can deny this is happening, but you know it's true! Take for example the schedule of one of my son's friends who plays on a number of high school teams. He started off the day with a 90 minute weight training session, followed by a 50-minute Acceleration (speed training on treadmills) session. Then he gets an hour off before going to 3 hours of driver's ed. He wraps up the afternoon with a two-hour basketball practice and probably a baseball game that evening. This kid is only 15! But he will play. He is a great athlete, and he is following all of the coaches summer recommendations for particular sport. He's just lucky he has a parent who can drive him around to all of these activities and the funds to support his high school sports career.

I resolved not the sign up for anything and have a free summer. I nearly made it through the end of the school year until I completely caved in and started madly signing the kids up for summer activities. Why did I give in? I want to see them succeed and not sit on the bench. As much as I hate all of the driving involved and complain about the crazy schedules, I love my kids and will endure hours behind the wheel on gorgeous summer days to cart them around. However, I do think it's unfair that kids who do not participate in all of the camps and training activities surrounding a particular sport are penalized. Time to stop playing politics with our kid's sports and just let them play!

My kids are experiencing the complete opposite of my summer of 1980. I realize that the world has changed and kids cannot bike all over the place on their own. They can play a game of football on the side yard, go for a swim in the nearby lake, or actually pull out a book and do some reading. All is not lost!  But today is technically only the first day of summer so I should have some time to salvage some unorganized fun for the summer of 2012.


Diane - It's All Good Until You Burn Dinner said...

Oh hit the nail on the head. All of those things that are "expected" of a kid to remain on the good graces of the coach. And it only gets worse when they get to the varsity level.

My daughter did only enough to "maintain" an "okay" rapport with the coaches. She's wasn't like many of the girls who jumped through hoops and did or said whatever the coach wanted to hear. What you see was what you got our our daughter. And guess what? Coach didn't like it. But on the flip side, the coach also realized that in order to reach her goal of playing at the state tournament level, she coudln't overlook my daughter -- the girl who refused to play the puppet games so many others on the team played.

She was an excellent athlete, whether she made it to all the camps or ridiculous "team buildling" events that involved craft projects, pasta feeds, and annoying sleepovers.

I miss seeing her play, but I don't miss all of the other garbage that went along with it.

Tess DeGeest said...

I so agree that there is parental peer pressure to ensure your children are not just sitting at home. Of course, the flip-side is the disapproving look I sometimes get from parents who think my daughter is over-scheduled because while I work she is in various camps half of the summer. It seems to me that ultimately we are accountable to our own sense of what is right for our kids. For my family, balance and moderation are the goal.

Christianna said...

Kudos to you and your daughter Diane for standing true and not letting sports overrun your life!

Christianna said...

Tess I completely agree with the balance and moderation in life whether it's sports, music, or even work. From where I stand at this moment, working full-time with three VERY active kids would be quite challenging. Not impossible, just a challenge to juggle it all while keeping your kids and their coaches happy.