Thursday, February 7, 2013

Organized Sports: Bleh or Yeah?

We moved to a new city about eighteen months ago. It was harder on my oldest than anyone else. He went from being a confident (overly at times), "cool" kid at his tiny school, to the new, reserved kid in a class of peers who had been together for five years.
If you've kept up with my blog or you know me in person, you'll know that we made the big switch from Christian private school (a school of 240 kids Pre-K thru 12th) to public school (750 kids Pre-K thru 5th) this year.
And it has been great! Really, it has. God's hand was all over the transition and besides typical kid stuff, we have had no complaints from the boys.

So I thought the confidence issue with my oldest had fizzled out. But it hasn't. He still says "I think so" to questions he knows the answer to, and most of the time, he'd prefer to not answer at all.

Maybe it's seasonal...because it flared up this time last year. I know I get the blues this time of year with much snow and little sun. But something I realized tonight, is that even if it's seasonal, there is a particular thing that seems to follow up the lack of confidence with a big dose of ego for our son. And perhaps it's just coincidence.

Or not.

Baseball. My son loves the sport and plays it pretty well, and once baseball season came around last the end of the dreary winter...we saw a change in him. Now, it was easy to say, well, that's just because school was almost out...and he really didn't care for his 4th grade classmates that were tight and exclusive. But, tonight--in the heart of winter (here anyway)-- I saw that sudden burst of confidence and the delight in who he is, right where he is at, during his third-ever indoor baseball practice.

My husband and I have been conflicted on organized sports. It pains us to give up our freedom of time and energy to conform to a practice schedule and weekends filled with games. They are just kids right? My baby is ten and a half, and won't be a kid much longer.

I've been reading Go Teens by Jill Savage and Pam Farrel. And when we decided to sign our son up for a competitive baseball team, the next chapter I came to was titled, "Casting Vision: Helping Your Teens Find Their Path."  Total God's timing! The chapter gave me a new perspective on pouring into our son...or rather...allowing him to pour himself into something that he desired. Jill and Pam say:

"From our years of working with teenagers in the school system and in the church, we have found that those students who had a good sense of self, who discovered their talents, skills, and gifts, seemed to sail through their teen years. A tween who feels good about something he or she can do is less likely to be swayed by negative peer pressure."

Tonight affirmed mine and my husband's notion that sacrificing a little bit of our freedom on nights and weekends, might actually be giving our son even more than down time at home would do. We know he is good at something, so why would we hold him back? Why not give him the chance to develop that sense of self through something he loves and is good at?

I am not saying that every kid needs to participate in organized sports to gain this, but I am saying that as a parent, I need to remember that my children are people too, with desires, and dreams, and talents. Just like I hope they encourage me, and allow me TIME to fill my dream on this writing journey to publication, it's not too early to allow them the chance to excel in their own ways.

And how great that they are young and can explore different interests, with all the time in the world to hone into one that gives them the desire to be GREAT!

While I will always treasure family time, and guard it as something necessary and precious, I will no longer complain about my children's desires to get on the field, sit behind the piano, or play in the band...because each time they gain skill, I hope they are adding to a strong foundation of confidence as well.

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