Sunday, January 11, 2009

Balancing Act

My son started skating lessons this week.

He loves it!

From what I've been told, he takes them while I'm at work, he's very good at it and took to it naturally.

That makes me very excited.

We are a sports family. Both the husband and I played sports throughout our childhoods and into our teen years. I continued to play sports in college and even play a little bit now.

We love sports.

I am extremely excited by the fact that our son is taking to a sport- any sport- at this age.

I'm not going to lie, I am pushing for these skating lessons to turn into hockey lessons and NOT figure skating lessons. I don't have anything against figure skating, I did it for a bit when I was younger, I would just prefer that my son play hockey.

You can call me sexist. You can tell me about the numerously talented and athletic men that do figure skating. You can even site the movie "The Cutting Edge" to me. I want my son to play hockey.

Bottom line.

Ever since all of this began I've been thinking a lot about how far do we push this. How much "pressure" do we put on him? Do we let him quit if he falls a lot in one lesson and doesn't want to do anymore? Where do we draw the line and how do we know when to stop?

He's young. Just because he may not want to continue skating doesn't mean he will never want to play any sports. And we do want him to explore all sports and try whatever he wants.

But how do we know?

I have a friend whose son is a swimmer. He is no Michael Phelps. He actually passed up basketball to swim. He was moving quite quickly through the ranks in basketball. In other words, he was really great. Swimming is not his forte but he tries exceptionally hard and it appears that the coach recognizes that. His teammates see that. His parents see that.

If my son were not good at skating would I discourage him from doing it? Would I try to introduce a different sport and distract him from skating?

I don't know.

I think I'm afraid of entering that world of parents that end up being more invested in their child's athletic life than their children are. I'm afraid of becoming that parent who pushes so much that their child grows to hate the sport. I'm afraid of being the parent that gets thrown off the football field or out of the gym because they are just too loud.

I highly doubt I would become that parent. I just wonder where the line gets drawn. How much pushing it too much? How much is too little? If there is real athletic ability in my child do I push enough so that they could get scholarships and such?

Like everything else in parenting it's about the balance, I guess.

I want my son to love sports. I want my daughter to love sports. If they love band or theater or something else more I will encourage those just as much as I would sports. But even with those it's about determining the balance.

Although, I've never heard of the parent who gets tossed out of the art show for being too critical.

So, as I search for the balance and try to figure out how hard to push or guide my child through the world of sports we've started lacing up our own skates and looking at junior size hockey sticks. We've jumped ahead about two lesson levels, in our heads, and I'm finding that I need to reign myself in. My son, and my daughter eventually, will guide my husband and I. He will be our marker, for the most part, of how hard he needs to be pushed. He will be the scale by which we determine if we are balancing everything correctly.

Deep down inside I do hope that the sports stick around for both of my kids. I also hope that they fall in love with the activities that they are good at and passionate about. And I hope the husband and I grasp this balancing act before we get thrown out of the ice rink or off the football field!

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