Thursday, September 13, 2012

Active Kids

I reeled off the list of all the places I needed to have my three kids within the next there hours. My friend sighed and said, “I’m glad my kids don’t like to do anything.”  

It’s a blessing and a curse having three active kids with lots of hobbies and interests. A blessing because it’s so good for their minds and souls and bodies; they will be much better rounded than I ever was. They will explore all the possibilities. And even if they never play bass guitar in a famous rock band or fence in the Olympics or dribble a ball down a college basketball court, they can say they’ve tried.  

I think back to my younger days and I wish I had tried a few more things. I wish I’d tried field hockey or volleyball back when my body was more cooperative and agile. I wish I’d learned how to sketch a face or play the harmonica or tap dance. Sure, I could pursue those interests now, but when would I have the time? And just how ridiculous would I look in a leotard? 

So I offer up these opportunities to my kids and explore every idea they throw out. When my 10-year-old wanted to sword fight, I found a swordguild that would let him try. And five years later, he still has a blast each week bouting with men old enough to be his grandfather. When my middle child wanted to sing in a rock band, it was only a matter of months before she was posting her exploits with a local music studio on YouTube. Then she wanted to play the bass guitar and we found ourselves learning more than we ever wanted to know about used guitars and amps. My oldest wants to be a writer and this past summer he rubbed elbows with some real writers at a writer’s conference and attended a college writing camp. My youngest decided he loved soccer more than all the other sports he’d tried, so we found our way to Travel Soccer tryouts. 

The curse part of the equation is the logistics of all this. And the expense. We don’t eat out or take fancy vacations, we invest the money saved in these daily endeavors. I spend hours in my car driving and driving and driving. Then I spend more hours waiting and waiting and waiting. It’s an investment in their souls. They may quit any or all of these endeavors next month, but I won’t lament the money and time spent. They’ve gained greatly from the people they’ve met, the skills they’ve honed, and the knowledge they’ve gathered about their own abilities and what makes them happy. It makes what they don’t want clearer. It narrows the focus. We are incredibly blessed to be able to give them these opportunities. 

And one of these days we will hit upon the thing that makes their hearts sing. I don’t think they will find it staring at a screen, no matter how redeeming the program or website. They need to go do. They need to go be with others who are also doing.  

Tonight there is rock band, voice lessons, soccer practice, and a newspaper meeting. Tomorrow there is fencing, more soccer, and bass lessons. I live for the white squares on the calendar. They are few and far between, but when they arrive I breathe a sigh of relief and soak in the calm because tomorrow we will be back at it, whittling away at their dreams.

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