Last week, I briefly discussed my hunt for after school activities for my kids.
Jonah does traditional sports recreation programs. He makes up for a lack of technique with boundless energy and enthusiasm. His basketball coach often pairs Jonah up with the biggest guy on the opposing team, because Jonah just wears his opponent down with spastic jumps and arm waves. It's not pretty, but it's effective. While Ian has excellent balance and coordination, he doesn't have the attention span or upper body strength for rec sports. We've been sampling various programs trying to find an activity that at his level.
While it would be nice to find a sports class that isn't too competitive for Ian, it isn't essential, because we keep both boys very active.
I'm a big believer in Kennedy-style vigor. Kennedy wrote, "Our own history, perhaps better than the
history of any other great country, vividly demonstrates the truth of
the belief that physical vigor and health are essential accompaniments
to the qualities of intellect and spirit on which a nation is built."
We want really the kids to be outside, doing stuff, as much as possible. It's not so much about the health benefits. We just think that exploring and experiencing are great fun and we want our kids to like those things, too.
Saturdays are often a work day for me, so Steve takes the kids on hikes to get them out of my hair. Even when the kids were babies and we lived in the city, he would pop them in the backpack and march through Inwood Park to check out the eagles. During the week, the kids and I lived at Javitts Park.
I want them to be outside as much as possible, and the rules (or lack of rules) reflect that. Ian likes to dig things, so I let him make a royal mess under the back steps. Nobody ever gets in trouble for getting their clothes dirty. I keep buckets of balls and bats in the garage.
To keep the boys outside, we go outside and do stuff, too. I keep the garden neat, and Steve mows the lawn. I'll throw the football with Jonah, if Steve isn't around. I'll roller blade up and down the block, while they ride their bikes. (My neighbors think I'm crazy.) We belong to the town pool. I'll jump in the pool and do under water handstands. I'm the mom with the frizzy hair and the dissolved mascara.
Steve and I have to be so involved with the kids' activities, not only because we like it and we want to set a good example. We're outside, because other kids aren't. The attention span of playmates for outside stuff is about five minutes, and then they slink back inside to watch iCarly. Even at the town pool, the kids bring their DSIs and sit in the shade. Their ten year old bodies wiggle and jiggle.
The great thing about digging in the dirt, doing hand stands in the pool, ice skating, walking through the woods, and tossing a football with mom is that you don't have be an athlete to do these things. You don't need natural endurance or coordination. It's not about the competition. You're not sitting on the bench waiting for your turn at bat. It isn't limited to an hour once a week in a contained, indoors, adult-structured environment. It's just fun.