Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Parenting Wake-Up #34

"Mom, I'm never going to play any sports. I hate sports."

As I turned around to respond to this bold statement she flashed me a very confident (dare I say cocky?) yet adorable smile, and with that she bounded out of the car and merrily skipped into school. It was a Kindergartner's version of a mic drop moment.

My initial reaction? "Who doesn't like sports?!?! Come ON!!

I totally realize that the above statement was made by a 6 year-old, but it did get me thinking. And, in quick response to my own question I realized that I had just experienced another parenting wake-up moment. This will probably come off sounding like I was previously pushing my life onto them, but my wake-up could be quite simply summed up like this, "My children might have different interests than me, and I'll learn to roll with it."

Don't worry, I'm hearing a collective, "Uhm...duh!?" from all of you. For years I've prepped myself for this moment, but now I'm realizing it might actually come true. Granted, my girls are young and will probably change what they are interested in at least 20 times in the coming years, but having my daughter say that was good for me. I needed to hear that and brace the reality.

Let me start by saying that it is NOT that I don't support them following interests in the arts, nature, etc., but it is a world that is much more foreign to me. I appreciate all of those things, but it just never caught my interest quite like sports did, and it was never such a huge part of my life. I know how to play the piano and I enjoy singing, but they aren't anything I'm passionate about. As for art, I can manage to draw a stick person and that is about it. I suppose that is why I appreciate musicians and artists so incredibly much. I would support our girls excelling at these areas, I just get a little sad thinking I might not be able to "share the love" with them as much without having the background in it. I have no fun stories about choir performances or art fairs to share...no awesome memories about, "That time when...."

Now on the other side of the coin we have SPORTS! Sports was a pretty big part of my life and my family growing up. In grade school most of us tried all of the sports offered, and in high school we were 2 or 3 sport athletes. Growing up in the summer we would walk down to the park and play softball - yes, even if it was 2-on-2 and my dad was all-time pitcher. My dad was the principal of a school, so on weekends we would often go over at night and have our own little open gym. There was a hoop in our backyard where it is quite safe to say literally thousands of shots were taken. We each took turns sitting in the bleachers watching our siblings play. The TV was seldom on in our house, but when it was it was sports or the news. One of my fondest memories is watching Packer games on a Sunday afternoon.

I was never a stellar athlete, but oh my word did I love playing sports. I loved being part of a team. I enjoyed working every day toward a common goal, all while doing something fun. It enabled me to meet and get to know people that I maybe wouldn't have crossed paths with or gotten to know outside of the court. And as a result I met some pretty amazing people along the way that have become lifelong friends.

I loved the challenge, whether it was an individual challenge or something our team was striving to achieve. There were some heartbreaking losses, but in the end the memories of the achievements far outweigh them all. It taught me that you need to work hard, there are winners and losers, and that a victory is not just seen when you add to the win column. Victories can be made in the little things done both on and off the court or field.

I fear I'm starting to digress as I take a trip down memory lane, but hopefully you'll see my difficulty in embracing a possible reality. I will admit as a parent it is hard for me not to "see their future" for them. When your 2nd grader is off the charts tall for her age and strong as an ox I can't help thinking that she was born for the basketball or volleyball court, but she wants to be an Olympic gymnast. When your 6 year-old is looking like she could master any sport, but she has no interest and would rather dig in the garden, draw a picture or make a science project with her dad.

My wake-up is that I WILL and I NEED to encourage them to try different things...to follow their interests and see where it takes them. I know, but need to remind myself, that all the things I loved about sports can be translated in different ways when it comes to art, music, nature, etc. No matter what they choose they can grow to be well-rounded individuals that meet amazing people along the way and create fantastic memories that they cherish.

So, what will it be? Music? Art? Drama? Science? Nature? Fashion? Culinary arts? Dare I say...Sports? Whatever it will be I know I'll get to see something through new eyes. I'll be there through the highs and lows. I'll encourage them to work hard. I'm excited to watch them grow, both physically, mentally and socially. I can't wait to watch them share with others that "thing" they have come to love. I'll be their biggest fan. Whatever it is, I'll be proud.

Simply put...I can't wait.