Keep your gasps silent if you can but here goes a gasp-worthy confession: My 7-year-old son does not play soccer. Or Little League. Or flag football. Or any other group sport.
On Saturday mornings, we don’t load up our camping chairs and snacks and head to neighborhood fields. He doesn’t have shirts with his name on the back of them.
It’s not like we haven’t offered him the opportunity. He’s just not that into it.
He’d rather be fishing on every available Saturday and Sunday. Or building furniture from scrap wood and designing intricate highway systems in our backyard. And once winter settles in again, we’ll get him back into guitar lessons.
Even though I’m pretty darn good at Mom Guilt Syndrome, my husband and I are a-okay with his choices because a) we value his individuality, b) he gets plenty of exercise and outdoor activity, and c) we can sleep in sometimes on the weekends.
I should also point out another benefit: I don’t have to make small talk with other parents on a biweekly basis, a task I am not remotely good at.
Other Parent: Hey! How are you guys? Can you believe the cost of the uniforms this year? Are you going to the after-game party at Buffalo Wild Wings?
Me: I … uhhhhh … *puts nose back in book*
But here’s the thing: It seems others have very strong opinions about our kid’s lack of sports involvement. Like friends, family, complete strangers. You know how some mothers get flack for not breastfeeding? That’s the kind of flack I’ve gotten on several occasions from others who Believe. In. The Power. Of. Group. Sports.
When they find out he’s not participating in a group sport, they start asking why, as if there must be a sad reason. They tell stories of how it’s been so completely great for their kids. (For the record, I’m glad for them.) They often offer suggestions. And no, he hasn’t tried lacrosse.
To these folks, I’d like to collectively say, Back the Truck Off.
Yes, we’re aware that group sports teach valuable lessons. We actually know that! Besides, my husband was an outstanding soccer and football player in his day. And I didn’t get the nickname, Special K, for nothing in junior high basketball. It was the more positive connotation of special, by the way.
But we think he can learn those lessons in other team environments, too. He can learn about commitment and hard work and collective success in a million other ways. I don’t plan to push him into something he doesn’t want to do.
Of course, if he decides he’s interested in a group sport, then we’ll make it happen for him. And I’ll be on the sidelines cheering him on (in between chapters and Cheetos).
But it will cut into his guitar lessons and fishing time, and he’ll have to choose. Because we refuse to be parents who are slaves to small people’s crazy schedules. Or our own for that matter. It’s called Slow Parenting or Slow Living, and I heart it. But that’s another blog post.