Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Friday, April 24, 2015

Our Year in Sports (Or Not)

When I was a kid, posters of Mary Lou Retton, Svetlana Boginskaya, Yelena Shushunova, and Kristie Phillips adorned my bedroom walls. At night, I slid away to sleep with uneven parallel bar routines in my mind's eye. I would execute each trick perfectly, in the comfort of my bed, eyes closed, before drifting off. Once asleep, I would dream I was one of the girls training with Bela Karolyi at his gym in Texas. Like many others, (in my dreams) I would live with a local family, get a tutor for school classes, and spend 4-6 hours a day in the gym. And I would love my life. 

Gymnastics was my passion, my pursuit, my vision, my reason. I recorded the 1988 olympics on a VHS tape (remember those?!) and watched it over and over....and over....again...Torn tendons, ripped hands, bangs and bruises every which where were part of the program and I drank it all up, every last bit. I ate, it, breathed it, savored it. Many life lessons were learned through the sport of gymnastics. An apt teacher, she served me well.

When Bobby and I spawned wee ones, it seemed likely they would be inclined toward sports. He and I both were when we were young. 

Through the years, we've tried all kinds of sporting activities for them. Soccer camps, dance class, gymnastics sessions, upward basketball, tackle football, etc. You name it, at some point in time, with some child, we've probably given it a whirl. 

Earlier this fall when I signed up, then promptly unsigned five of them (due to scheduling and logistics) for basketball, I felt pretty badly about it. Major mom fail. My charges would have no need for mesh shorts or high top shoes. Could they survive? 

What if these precious young people, under my care, flounder aimlessly in all that is life because they never develop the ability to slam dunk an orange ball into a white net? Likely story. Vertically challenged, those Caucasian Deutschlets are.   

When the dust settled on my pitiful woes, we regrouped and decided that we would devote this year's time and limited finances toward renovating the bedrooms of our seven, providing individual space for each member of the tribe within the confines of shared rooms. It's been a major feat that is almost complete (the angels sing!). No sports. No activities. Allowance cut back to once a month. Helping with painting and construction where possible. Sacrifices would be made. We would all play the role of active participant in this endeavor, to some extent. 

As this school year comes to a close, and I look back, may I just say how very fantasmically enjoyable it has been? Really. My heart is epically full. 

Our posse has eaten dinner together at the table every.single.solitary.night. Afterward, we are free to play games. Lots and lots of games, we play. We read books and sit by the fire and go outside when it's warm enough and I beat them at tetherball, one by one because their mom, she's competitive. 

There is time. Precious, fleeting, vaporizing time has been captured, redeemed, cashed in, held, cradled, through moments - many moments spent together in each other's company. Rush has been all but eliminated.

We're often asked what sports or extra curricular activities our kids are involved in, and throughout this year, we've had to admit what few American Parents in 2015 could or would ever dare confess, "Uh...none. Zero. Zilch. Nada." Because that's the way we roll up in this joint. All countercultural and everything, prompting the Nice Folks to scratch their heads and wonder who exactly issued us our Parenting License as we clearly didn't get the memo about what is required for this gig. 

Seriously, it can be difficult not to feel the need to qualify and list reasons and assure All the Good People we really are Exemplary Parents. I mean, if they gave awards for slackers, we would claim top prize.  

It's hard to predict what the future will hold. Will we again engage in sporting activity? Probably so. Though truthfully, this band of offspring has never been huge into the whole scene. They haven't exhibited the same drive or desire for it that their dad and I held. I don't know if it's a product of their environment or the fact that we haven't really pushed it or a combination of both or what, but it hasn't proven so much their main agenda. They don't watch them on t.v. They don't read about them in books or magazines. They don't follow players or teams or coaches. They probably aren't dreaming of moving to another state with random families they've never met to train. Unless they just want to get away from the family they've got. Which is quite possible, but that's another story for another day. 

They favor building forts out of scrap lumber and whittling sticks to hooping it up on the court, which is fine by me. 

They ride bicycles and take guitar lessons on YouTube and play made up jingles on the piano and walk the dogs and do chores and bake all kinds of goodies and have friends over and draw pictures and master board games and check out 100 books a week at the library and sculpt snow caves and create duct tape masterpieces and write stories and build rubber band guns and bows and arrows and shields made from cardboard and spend a ton of hours with their siblings and parents, negotiating this game called life the old fashioned way. 

Are they any the worse for it? I sincerely doubt it. 

All the Good Mommies, we must remember: There are lots of great ways to raise kids, each equally viable and valuable in its own right. We just have to choose our path and go with it, confidently, heads held high. To heck with whether or not the critics (most importantly, the ones in our own heads!) agree. They don't earn our prize, we do. 

No one, not one of us can do it all.  

I have a feeling even Mary Lou would agree...
The girl has teeth again! 

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