Archive for Thursday, October 23, 2008

Kids should follow their own interests

October 23, 2008

Some grandparents share in their grandchildren’s lives by attending sports events in which those children compete. I share my grandson’s life in other ways. Team sports have never been too important in my life or in the lives of my children and grandchildren. I don’t know exactly why, but it is just that way.

I was never good in team sports as a child. I was always the last person chosen when teams were chosen. Then, if we were playing baseball, I ended up in what seemed like the outfield behind the real outfield. Sometimes, it seemed like the coach was telling me to get far enough away, I had only the street left as my assigned position. My brother played football and wrestled, but my sister and I didn’t even attend the high school games. We lived a long way from town, and once we were home on Friday nights, we stayed there.

Possibly as a result of my childhood experiences, I never pressed my children to participate in team sports. They did participate on a limited basis, but by high school, both did not participate for one reason or another. My daughter just didn’t enjoy the experience; my son could not because of a back condition. Team sports are good for many youngsters, but not everybody enjoys them. My children did not dislike the exercise. They both are active, exercise enthusiasts today.

Now the vanguard of the next generation, my grandson Paul, joins his parents in eschewing team sports. He is a good swimmer and enjoys golf and tennis but he disliked participating in soccer and football. It isn’t that he doesn’t like cooperating with others; he just doesn’t want to be trampled.

He loves music and enjoys producing it. He has been taking piano lessons since he was little and has been participating in the school band program since the fifth grade. He has also taken private trombone lessons.

My hope for him is that he continues with his piano and band into secondary school and beyond. I also hope that public schools everywhere maintain good music departments so that he and my upcoming grandchildren will be able to participate in the joy of listening to and performing music.

I also hope that our public education system will be able to sustain funding and energy for drama and art education. In these uncertain economic times, I think that there are those who want to start slashing extras everywhere, and I understand. But, there are wise economical measures; and there are foolish ones. Ben Franklin’s adage of “penny-wise and pound-foolish” too often seems to dictate our decisions about our children’s education.

Children, like adults, are all different. The Friday-night lights of football and other school sports are great for those who enjoy them. They make going to school and being young fun and often thrilling. And, in addition to the benefits of exercise, youngsters learn a good many life lessons while participating in competitive team sports. But, others who may march to a slightly different drummer also need their outlets for a full educational experience. God made us alike and yet different. He gave out a wide variety of talents and abilities. We should respect that both in our peers and in our youngsters.

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