IS ANYONE ELSE HAVING a busy summer?
I don’t know about you, but it seems like only yesterday that we were holding graduation ceremonies at the high school; and suddenly we are about a month from the beginning of the new school year.
It seems like the community was just having its annual Easter Egg Hunt; and yesterday (Wednesday) down the street comes the Patriot Fourth of July parade.
Is it really fair time already? That can only mean one thing – the festival can’t be far behind.
It won’t be long until we see Halloween displays; followed by Thanksgiving; and finally Christmas. In fact – we may see them all at the same time.
I was told once that days drag by and years fly by; and that sure seems true as I stare at my July calendar and wonder how I got here.
We’ve had a busy summer, with a long anticipated trip to Hawaii; another week with high schoolers at Big Stuf Camp in Florida; two daughters home from college – with one coming in and out as she interns up in Shelbyville, Indiana. We’ve worked on the house and all of the usual things that people do in the summer months; but for the life of me I can’t figure out how it goes so quickly.
And I’m not even in the biggest whirlpool of all – smaller children involved with summer teams.
I’m not sure how those families do it. They are always running, either to a practice in another town or to some tournament in another town or state.
Sometimes families run in more than one direction at the same time; carefully calculating their trips to get from one location to another in time for the next game.
Throw into that mix summer camps both here in the county and in other locations, and I think our kids are the busiest people I know.
It all comes from a mindset that we as parents have developed.
We want our kids to be involved. We want them to participate in group activities, and we have the income to allow it.
It’s not just sports, because musically-gifted children go from event to event; as do children who have other interests, intellectually and otherwise.
We see a spark in the eye of our children and as parents we want to turn it into a bonfire. We want to see them excel at whatever it is that they have taken on.
We want them to pay for college.
My oldest daughter, who was the focus of my hurried life several years ago, now as a 25-year old has a theory:
My grandchildren and others of their generation won’t do anything.
No sports. No music camp. No horses.
Because, she will tell you, that when she was little what she really wanted to do was to stay home and play with her friends and hang out, not travel all over to make a softball tournament at 6 a.m. on a Saturday morning.
She’d tell you that she had fun, but overall she’d just as soon have taken a more leisurely pace to her childhood. It’s that concept that leads her to believe that when her generation becomes the parent, they’ll remember all of the running and hectic summers, and they’ll tell their kids to go out in the backyard and play.
Maybe, a slower pace of life would not only help the children, but the parents, as well.
If you’ve been watching the Olympic trials, no doubt you’ve seen the commercials where the moms are waking up their little children, feeding them breakfast while half asleep, and then motoring them off to some practice, either gymnastics or swimming or some track event.
Suddenly the little kid morphs into an Olympian, and after winning their event, they run over and hug their mom, who’s got a tear running down her face.
What a sweet moment, except that only happens to a microscopic percentage of all of those kids.
Most of them? They lose their childhood while they move further and further up the ladder. Some even leave their homes to travel to live with an train with a coach. Some make it.
Many of them grow into early adulthood injured and broken down, having failed to get to the level that - many times – their parents sought for them rather than them seeking it themselves.
In the gymnastics competition earlier this week, there was a 16-year old girl getting ready to do an uneven bars routine. That and the balance beam were her only two events, because one of her knees had been so destroyed and surgically put back together, she couldn’t run. That meant no vault; no floor exercise.
As she stood there waiting to start, the camera was directed to the gruesome scar on her knee, which was partially hidden by a bandage, but you could still see it.
I’m sitting there looking at her and I’m thinking, “Why is anyone allowing this little girl to continue and potentially hurt herself even more?”
She did her routine, and she did well. When she landed her dismount her face gnarled a bit with pain from the force hitting her knee, but she got through it. She hugged her coach, then she went and hugged her parents.
And then she failed to make the Olympic team.
And, today, she went home, 16 years old with the knee of an 80-year old. I can only imagine what struggles she will have later in life.
Am I saying that competition is bad? Certainly not. What I am saying is that, as parents, it is our responsibility to moderate our kids’ activities so that they can play the sports they love and still have time to be a normal kid.
With the “Balanced Calendar”, this year school will begin the first week of August. That means you’ve got a month from the time you’re reading this to get your kids ready to return to school.
Summer has been swallowed up by activity, and we’re all guilty of it.
But we should also all learn from it.