Oh, extracurricular activities. How I love SLASH hate you. My girls have been involved in various activities (outside of full-day full-time daycare since early infancy) beginning at age one. From gym classes to swimming lessons to soccer to dance to golf, we’ve tried it.
I wasn’t involved in anything outside of school when I was young and I’m pretty positive it’s directly related to my having a difficult time getting jazzed about sports/outdoor activities/exercising/moving IN GENERAL as an adult. I’m just… whatever. I’m old and set in my ways and leave me alone I have some crosswords to do.
But, my husband is Mr. Activity. He’s involved in at least one (not at all time consuming or annoying to me) activity outside of his full time job at any given time of year. The following list is to give you an idea of what I’m dealing with as his wife, it is BY NO MEANS exhaustive:
- Pick up basketball
- Floor hockey
- Fishing/fishing tournaments
- Golf league
- Golf tournaments
- Soccer, ALL THE SOCCER IN ALL THE LAND ALL THE TIME
That doesn’t include attending sporting events (which, to be fair, he rarely/never does now that the kids are getting bigger). The point is not to chastise my husband for all his hobbies, but to show you how much he LOVES being active.
He wants that for our kids. I do, too. We are united in wanting to expose them to as many activities as they show interest for and seeing what sticks. We, of course, each have our fingers crossed for things we find interesting, but whatever the girls are passionate about, we’ll support.
All that said, there are valuable lessons to be learned in addition to all the fun and exercise they’ll get during these activities. Structure, focus, loyalty, sportsmanship, friendships and conflict resolution are all awesome by-products.
Another is dedication. This is a tricky one, because let’s face it, the girls aren’t going to love every single thing they try. They just aren’t. But at what point do you allow them to throw in the towel? Does it depend on what the activity is? How long the “season” is? How much you’ve paid (including whatever activity-related extras necessary)? Does the age of the child matter?
For me, I think it will be decided on a case by case basis. For example, Audrey hated swim lessons. HATED. But quitting swim lessons isn’t an option. I don’t care how much you hate it, you are learning to swim because damn it, if I can check ONE THING off the please-don’t-kill-yourself list, I’m doing it. Sorry, kid.
Olivia wanted to take dance lessons last year, so we signed her up. For a year. It involved many monies. And special outfits. And tap shoes. And ballet shoes. And a recital costume. And several recital tickets. And so many Saturday mornings of my life that I will never get back. Toward the end, she was kind of over it (I FEEL YOU, SISTER). But, we powered through and she was the cutest freaking rainbow dancer at her recital. After which, I said, “See? Aren’t you glad we finished?” To which she replied, “Yes, but I’m all set.” No more dance for Liv. NOTED.
This is the first year Audrey is old enough to play soccer. Liv has been playing since she was three and enjoys it very much. She’s also pretty decent insofar as she listens, follows directions, makes progress, and adequately trash talks her coach.
Audrey could not wait to join her big sister on the field. Oh, how joyous she was to receive her very own pair of cleats. Could not get those teeny shin guards on fast enough. We gleefully drove to the field that lovely Saturday morning. She took one look at her coach and decided, HAHAHAHAHAAAAA JUST KIDDING GUYS NO SOCCER FOR ME KTHXBAI.
We tried going out with her. We tried tough love. We tried having Liv join her. She was interested only in showing her cleats to everyone and knowing how many squeezable yogurts I had packed. She was just not into it.
So, rather than force her to finish her season, even though we paid for it and her jersey, we let her quit. Tom’s reasoning behind it is that we don’t want to turn her off to the sport entirely by forcing her to start before she’s ready. While I agree with that entirely, mostly I just don’t want to wrangle her into doing one more thing. I can barely force her to brush her teeth in the morning. Soccer? You are fired.
And guess what? We’ve all survived! She still loves soccer, she just wants to wear her cleats and watch Olivia for now. We are happily driving to practice on Saturday mornings. And most importantly, we are guilt free in our decision.