I read a really GREAT ARTICLE today. An article that I think a lot of parents should take note of, whether they’re raising boys or girls (or both).
As a boy mom, it’s inevitable that more than likely, at some point in their life, my kids are going to become obsessed with sports. I am ready and willing to accept this. I know that at some point my weekends are going to be filled with soccer games, tee-ball practices, and swim meets. I know that soon, all of my extra money (lol at ‘extra money’) will go to football pads, and running cleats, and cups. CUPS. And really, I’m okay with that.
Here’s the thing though, I live in Texas. And while I love my state (as any decent Texan does) here’s how things work: if you are a boy, you’re almost EXPECTED to be an athlete. Friday Night Lights is not a myth, that’s how things work here. If you want to be anybody in the middle school/high school/college social hierarchy, you need to play sports, and more specifically, you need to play football. If you don’t, well, then you’re a nerd. A dork. And even worse, a nobody. And not just to the other kids, to a lot of adults as well.
Every time I turn on the news these days I hear about the crappy state our classrooms are in. How there are 30+ kids to a teacher. How our text books are being written by POLITICIANS. And hell, I can barely talk to my mother these days (who works for a school district in San Antonio) without her ranting about our governor and his crappy budget cuts and lack of education spending. Yet somehow, school districts can spend $60 MILLION on a high school football stadium (no really, a school near us is in the process of building one).
I have no delusions that I can change how things of this nature work in our school systems and society before my boys become old enough to understand them. It starts SO early. From the moment you realize you’re having a little boy, and visit the baby boy clothing area in any store, and get to choose between a onesie that says, ‘Daddy’s little All-Star’ or ‘Number One Slugger!’. Hell, tee-ball starts at THREE YEARS OLD here … so to a lot of people, the Mouse needs to start playing tee-ball and flag football NOW if he wants the edge. My kid, the kid who can’t even sit through an entire episode of Dora the Explorer, should be taught how to catch a ground ball and sit in a dugout and wait for his turn to hit, and then go sit in the dugout again after his three chances to hit the ball.
(insert hysterical laughter here)
Admittedly, I am not the most athletic person in the world (understatement of the year). For a while, I was a swimmer (50m Free in 30.78 right here, yo!) while in high school … but that only lasted as long as I could participate in swim team, and still be in band. I have no grand illusions that my boys have received any type of athletic gene from me. I hope they’ve received my passion for reading. My love of writing. My husband’s love of music. And both of our artistic abilities. But neither one of us has any astounding athletic skills we’re passing on here.
This doesn’t mean I don’t want them to play sports. There’s nothing wrong with sports. In fact, I think they’re a great confidence booster and help kids develop a lot of skills (like sportsmanship and team play) … but they will never be a top priority in our household. I want there to be a good balance between the two. I want my kids to come and ask me to read them a book, and then go outside and play catch with each other. I want them to bring home 1st prize from their science fair, and then run out the door for soccer practice. I want them to realize that even though they are absolutely inundated with the idea that in order to be anybody who is worth anything, you must be a ‘jock’ – that this is not the case. That they are worth more and can do more with their lives than even the best sports ‘heros’ can.
So the next time you need to buy a little boy a gift … and can’t think of what to get him … buy him a book. Buy him a butterfly kit. Buy him some paint and construction paper. Buy him a puppet. I promise, he already has enough footballs.