Almost thirteen years ago, we found out that we would be adopting our first son. Thirteen years. At times it seems longer but, for the most part it could have been last week. They do grow up fast by our measurements but as a kid I remember those days seem to last forever.
These days, people push their kids grow up even faster. Just the other day, the soccer team Real Madrid signed a seven year old to a contract. Yes, SEVEN! Parents want their kid to be the next Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Mary Lou Retton, Peyton Manning or Tim Lincecum. Even though the chances of that happening are very slim. If the kids enjoy those activities, great. But looking back on their childhood memories, are those activities all they see? In the movie Searching for Bobby Fisher, there is a part where one father is shocked to see that Josh's (the main character) father had taken him fishing and missed out on all of the potential chess practice. Basically, there is more to this world than what is seen from the baseball diamond, football field, golf course, gymnasium, or chess club.
"Who are you going to the dance with?" I've heard this asked of a fifth grader. Are we starting then preparing for the next King and Queen of the Prom. Why? WHy? WHY? I don't get it. What are fifth graders going to do at a dance? Stand on the side? Goof off with their friends? Yes, I admit that my first girlfriend came towards the end of my sixth grade year and if you look at my Facebook friends, she's on there. It wasn't much more than the occasional holding of hands. But I guess you gotta start somewhere. The point is it wasn't my parents or society pushing me to have a girlfriend. it was my own choice done at my own speed.
Now, as some push kids to grow up faster, some kids don't want to grow up that fast. They are content still playing with toys and using their imagination. Those kids are looked at as strange and immature. THEY'RE KIDS!! Let them be kids. They don't want to be the next big sports star. Maybe they aspire to be the next Neil Armstrong, Louis Armstrong or Billie Joe Armstrong.
There are pictures of me hanging in the grade school that I attended. They are team photos of our second and third place "state" finishes in basketball and track. However, most people have no clue that I finished third in a poetry writing contest in sixth grade. Other than a letter from the Principal and a white ribbon there was no other recognition. It would be 15 years before, while helping at a youth conference at church, I would pick up a pen and start writing again. Now, I have pages of poems and songs and a few different novels started. I know this seems a little off topic, but I spent so much time on sports trying to be the next Cardinal 2nd baseman, that I probably missed where my talents really lie.
Brett Minor, a friend of mine and fellow blogger, recently wrote about how his Scholastic Bowl teamed crashed the sports banquet. I found that hilarious. It makes me think of my high school's Sports Hall of Fame. We honor our high school sport heroes. (By the way, where are they now?) I can picture Al Bundy saying, "I played high school football." Why just sports? I believe that our high school has had National Auto Repair Champions. ( I forget the real title). We have had several Mock Trial winners, Speech and acting winners, Youth and Government winners. Where is their due? Off topic again? Nope. Who are we raising up, putting on the pedestal? The sports kids. The creative kids are frowned upon labeled as dorks, geeks and/or nerds. Parents push their kids to be sports heroes so they can be popular and then they can date and go to the dance with other popular kids, leaving the rest to be picked on or chastised because they won't reform and fall into line with their more " mature" ways.
With so much shown to them at an early age, it's no wonder kids are bored with life by the time they graduate high school. I'm sorry that your dreams didn't come true but, trying to live them through your kids is just wrong. How about we let kids be kids and stop pushing them into sports so hard and stop stressing how important being popular is? And maybe, just maybe, they won't grow up so fast.