SPORTS: Musings on Family: Sports and Activities


I am guilt personified. If there is something to feel guilty about, I will find it. I will seek it out. I will claim that guilt as my own. And sometimes I manufacture guilt out of thin air.

I have a need to be fair…always. Definitely with situations involving my children. I strive to be fair. If one child does an activity, they all have to do it. If one child gets something, they all have to get the same thing. My need to be fair to all three of my children was much easier when they were younger. I signed my oldest daughter up for dance in preschool. When my youngest daughter was the same age, I signed her up for the same dance class. My daughters did back-to-back sessions of dance, t-ball, piano, and Brownies. It. All. Worked. Out. So. Perfectly.

Except that my son got left out. He is 4.5 years younger than one of his sisters, and 7 years younger than his other sister. When his sisters were doing dance, t-ball, piano, and Brownies, he was the tag-a-long baby/toddler/preschooler. I made a decision not to sign him up for a zillion activities when he was a toddler because I didn’t want our days to be too busy. He and I were alone from the time the big kids got on the bus until the time the bus arrived back from school. I wanted to have our days free for weekly playgroups, monthly mom’s groups, birthday parties, and errands. Signing him up for a class would have made our schedule too rigid. What would I do if I wanted to chaperone a school field trip on a morning when he had an activity? I wanted to spend time with him AND my daughters.

I opted to keep his toddler and preschool years light on activities. I stopped stressing about naptimes. I worried that he would miss out on music classes, tiny tikes soccer, and gymnastics. I needn’t have worried. Instead of filling our days with activities, he had loads of fun at our weekly and monthly playgroups. He made great friendships with a number of kids his age. The playgroups were all very local. He and I spent most of the school days playing with toys, instead of driving all over the place. His early years were so much less rushed than when my daughters were the same age.

Once he started kindergarten, I enrolled him in fall soccer. He wanted to play. By that time his sisters had stopped playing. Kiddie soccer teams are fun, no stress activities. He loved playing and I got a chance to chat with other moms and even met a few new moms. Soon a winter basketball clinic was added to our calendar. Then it was karate when he was in 2nd grade. I stuck to my guns and resisted filling his afterschool and weekend time with lots of activities. Instead, he had time for after school play dates, homework time, and reading.

But, the guilt was always there. I was always worried about what he WASN’T doing instead of thinking about what he WAS doing. I fretted that I hadn’t signed him up for Cub Scouts in 1st grade. I was torn about not signing him up for piano in 2nd grade. His sisters had both started piano. Shouldn’t he start piano? The guilt set in but I didn’t sign him up for anything other than soccer and karate. It all worked out.

My youngest had his chance to experience recreational soccer, basketball, and lacrosse once he was in elementary school. He joined Cub Scouts in 4th grade. He loved camping, S’Mores, and exploring. He begged to play cello in 3rd grade. He tried his hand at karate. He couldn’t wait to join his sisters on the summer swim team. Soon, he joined the competitive team with his sister. He may not have done many activities and classes as a baby/toddler/preschooler but it all worked out for the best!

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