Parents today have it rough.
Children have these evil hand-held devices called cell phones that allow them to rule the world.
I am pretty sure there is an app for that.
It is pretty hard to protect and guide your children in the right direction when they have plenty of private moments to make the wrong choices using the Internet. And to make matters even worse, most of them are now mobile.
It also is interesting to be entering the world of parenting again through grandparenting a couple of 5- and 3-year-old grandsons. This time, however, I am an assistant coach. I like being on the sideline and not sitting in the captain's chair.
My grandsons tell me that their friends are involved in many activities. My grandsons are in swimming lessons, and that is plenty for now.
But some of their friends swim, play T-ball, wrestle, do mixed martial arts, golf and so forth. You get the picture.
It has made for some interesting conversations in my own mind.
The bad grandparent in me says, “Man, my two little guys need to do more. If they don't start baseball until they are 8 or 9, they will be way behind. It probably won't be much fun for them to start a sport surrounded by friends who are in their third or fourth year of playing.”
The good grandparent in me says, “These guys are too young to be a bunch of activities which too quickly lead to competitive sports. They need to have fun, discover all that is out there (sports and non-sports alike), and make their own choices and their own way.”
This is their time to grow up. Not my time.
It is easy for parents (or grandparents) to influence kids. I hear plenty of parents of young children in competitive activities all the time say, “Oh, she or he loves it!”
Well, I could pick up three rocks and invent a game with my grandsons and they would love that just as much as some competitive sport. The young are easily influenced.
The problem with kids who start so young is that they often get burned out.
They show some skills, and all of a sudden, mom and dad think they have the next Joe Mauer, Chad Greenway, Mike Miller, Becky Hammon or Kris Tschetter on their hands. They push and all of a sudden, little Johnny or little Mary are in high school or college and they don't want to wrestle, run track or play soccer anymore.
They are sick of it. I certainly get sick of parents calling me telling me I should be covering youth this, youth that, or their son's or daughter's “youth traveling team winning some off-season tournament because it is just as big as winning a varsity state title.”
Another ugly trend that I am seeing from parents is that they are running down other sports or other teams at their own school. Or even worse, other players on their son's or daughter's team.
Parents (or grandparents) who contact me about their son's or daughter's accomplishment are better off to do it, and then shut up:
--Don't tell me about what I should do with this bit of news (“I know you are going to write a big story and publish four or five of these pictures I just sent you”).
--Don't tell me that this sport is more important than another one (“you cover that stupid soccer all the time”).