My husband and I believe in raising well-rounded children. This is why we sign them up for every activity that’s offered in the city. They’ve been in theater, gymnastics, swimming, T-ball and ice skating, just to name a few. They try something, decide if they like it or not and move on. We realize that there will be a lot of moving around from activity to activity at their ages. We are OK with that.
Playing a new sport or being involved with a new activity has been a great lesson for all of us. It would’ve been very easy for us to make our daughters play basketball because that’s the sport that we are most comfortable with. Where’s the fun in that? That would’ve been a cop-out.
No, we decided to throw our daughters out onto the soccer field – a sport neither of us are familiar with. The night before our oldest daughter’s first day playing soccer, my husband went out and bought our 3-year-old a new pair of pink and white Adidas cleats, shin guards and socks. I laughed at the purchase but sat my daughter down in the living room to try the stuff on her. Two minutes in and I had to make a phone call.
I had no idea what I was doing. What comes first – the shin guards or the socks? I called a friend whose daughter played high school soccer and asked her how the heck I dressed my kid for this sport. She walked me through the process, saying that it’s shin guards then socks. Anything else and you might be laughed at. Well, we can’t have that. I don’t want to be the parent who looks like they don’t have a clue how to properly dress their kid for this sport, even though I am.
The next morning, we got our daughter ready for the soccer pitch – shin guards, then socks. Sure enough, there were parents who didn’t have anyone to call and their kids were wearing the shin guards over the socks. Whew, we thought, dodged that bullet.
Then there was the theater and dance class experience. Talk about clueless parents! Our 3-year-old needed a leotard, tights and shoes – ballet and tap . Where do we get all this? Luckily we weren’t the only parents asking these questions. But we were shocked at the outrageous prices of these items. We didn’t last long in ballet class. For theater, she needed “jazz” shoes. Huh? Excuse me? What are “jazz” shoes? Are those like “jazz hands?” Turns out we can go to the shoe store down the street to get these shoes, but they are not cheap and my daughter needs a new pair every session because her feet are growing so quickly.
Then there’s ice skating. Ah, ice skating. Luckily the skate rental is included with the lessons so I don’t have to go out and buy two pairs of ice skates for a five-week lesson. It’s a good thing, too, because I probably would’ve bought some ridiculously expensive pair of skates for my little people and it would’ve hindered their abilities on the ice. The “training wheel” ice skates they had at the rink were just fine.
Trying to figure out how to put them on my kids’ feet was another story. It seemed as though the skates were not right-foot or left-foot specific. I just don’t understand that. I have two different feet, please make shoes and skates that go on one foot or the other. I have to tie these skates extremely tight on my kids’ feet or else they are going to fall on the ice more than they already are. As I am tying them, I am looking around the room at the other parents to make sure that I am doing this correctly. There are moms and dads getting their kids ready for ice skating and ice hockey. Parents are showing up 30 minutes before their kids’ ice time because they have to get all this hockey gear on their future Wayne Gretzky. One mom was wrapping duct tape around the top of her kids’ socks. Why? I don’t know! Should I be doing this, too?
I want my kids to be well-rounded individuals. I want them to understand a lot of different sports so when they watch on television or attend a game in person they know what’s going on. I want them to be comfortable skating on the ice so we can go skating as a family. I want them to be more comfortable speaking in front of a group of people than I was at that age.
For parents, though, there is a price to pay. We have to understand and learn about all the equipment involved with their activity. If my kid would just sign up for basketball our lives would be so much easier – but so much less entertaining.
Angela Borchert is a freelance writer who lives in Vacaville. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.