Unlike most Friday evenings, the kids were in our family room as my husband and I leisurely, gathered around the kitchen island. We were chatting about the upcoming deer firearm seasons, supplies for processing meat all while I casually went through Friday Folders (school papers).
There it sat.
I had wished, prayed and even conspired to keep this piece of madness away from my island.
It was the rec league basketball sign-up form. We go-go-go to activities, all year round – it never ends so there isn’t a good place to start describing the routine. Participating in a travel baseball organization is almost a lifestyle of its own – light practices Oct.-Jan., heavy practices Jan.-March, games begin April 1-mid July, tournaments as far as mid-Tennessee, then we have two weeks off before middle school baseball begins with games through October. In years past, we’ve also done basketball for two of the boys from mid-October to early February, wrestling November-early February and soccer September-October. At the end of May, we begin preparing our dairy heifers and sheep for summer fairs/shows which take place off and on from mid-June to the end of August. Amid those activities, we fit in 4H meetings, related activities, county fair and state fair; deer hunting and camping.
Many months ago, I wrote most of the above paragraph down on paper – that alone was exhausting. I was perplexed. Long ago, I vowed to never overextend our family with a dip in the melting pot of activities.
So, what happened?
When your children are young, you are more or less the gatekeeper with a societal handbook of unrealistic expectations. It took time but I came to realize that parenting isn’t always about following that handbook – providing structure, schedules and setting limits can be important. Its also equally important to allow for empowerment. As their own personalities took hold, the boys wanted experience. The experiences that empower children to find their passions and identities. And, so, choice of activities has ultimately been initiated by each child. We are careful to not push activities, rather remain neutral until interest is shown. When interest appears, we support. I put my nose down, buried my desire for a break and gave thanks for being blessed with three, life-loving sons.
In fact, until that night at the island, I hadn’t shared my wants with anyone. However, the status of the situation could be related to racing towards the World Series. Our oldest had already decided he would not try-out for basketball and to take time off from wrestling (score!). We were mid-way through the last playoff game, when our youngest decided we could wait to enroll him in gymnastics (Summer Olympic inspired). Again, score!
It was the last inning of the game – with two outs, our last batter was at the plate. Before the pitch, I have a confession. We had receive the basketball sign-up from our recreation league via email – multiple emails, actually. I had justified ignoring the emails by reminding myself of our kid initiative rule (he needed to be the one to first express interest in playing).
At the island, we nervously stared at the form. The batter had two strikes and three balls. My eyes whispered, ‘what’s the next move? Do we walk the batter and place the form in the trash bin? Or, do we take our chances and pitch by bringing up the basketball sign-up?’ My heart led as I opened my mouth and asked our fifth grader about the form.
He mentioned a couple of his past teammates who are playing again this year. I cut to the chase and asked if he too, wanted to join his teammates.
The answer? “No, not really.”
The kitchen was filled with mimed high-fives and the stadium cheered, “Amen.”