Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The March to Madness

Spring is in the air, the cherry blossom trees are coming to life, and the daffodils and forsythia are bursting out in bright flashes of yellow.   This should be a relaxing time to stop and smell the flowers, so to speak.  But with spring comes March madness.  No, not the sitting around watching college hoops kind of madness.  A different march of madness – more like a mad dash really – from the soccer fields to the baseball fields to ice hockey to tennis to ballet to choir to  horseback riding to the …. You get the idea.

Every spring I declare I am going to stop this insanity and sign up for one sport per kid per season.  Every spring, I immediately break this rule and sign them up for even more stuff.    What is wrong with me, I ask myself, as I obsessively check the carpool schedule for Jack’s soccer practices, hustle across town to get Alexandra to her soccer games and ice-skating lessons, and try to figure out how Jack is going to make it to his soccer game and his baseball practice at the same time.   (Answer: unless I bend time and space to my personal desires, which I’ve tried without much success, he is not).

There is a lot of discussion about how overscheduled kids are nowadays, and I agree, my kids are overscheduled, and I have no one to blame but myself.  But for reasons that I clearly need to spend more time introspectively pondering (if I had the time, that is), I am unable to say “no,” and to make them choose which of the myriad activities they want to do.  My internal thinking seems to be along the lines of “I don’t want them to miss out on an opportunity,” as if not being on THAT soccer team is somehow going to make the difference between becoming the next Beckham and playing on a JV soccer team their senior year of high school, if at all (the horrors). 

Obviously, I am very type A++++.  I know this about myself and I work on it, I promise I do.  But I somewhat blame this sports-overload on the various sporting leagues that run organized sports in Montgomery County too.   Why, MSI Soccer, do you make it so impossible to only have a fall team and then take a break for the spring?  Both their website and their emails constantly remind you that if you don’t register for the next season, you are going to lose your spot on your team AND THEN WHERE WILL YOU BE?  If you don’t get a spot on the BCC baseball team in Kindergarten, well you can forget your kid playing on the school team with his friends until fourth or fifth grade when most of the roster (and really more their parents) are forced to admit that watching their elementary school kids play baseball is worse, way worse, than watching paint dry.   White paint.  Matte, with no gloss.

Then you’ve got the debate of whether it is better to diversify and try lots of different sports (what most of us were forced to do growing up), or OH MY GOD, your kid is in second grade and you haven’t picked what sport he or she is going to “major” in yet?  The various travel clubs add to this debate by basically insisting that your kid commit to only playing that sport if they join the club, because you know, all of that time they spent getting your 8-yr old to learn to do that fake-out scissor kick move is a big, big INVESTMENT that needs to be protected.  Heaven forbid your soccer-playing future phenom break his arm playing ice hockey for MYHA, that would be a truly selfish act and would let down your kid’s travel team and then they might not make it to that championship game or whatever it is you are supposed to care about if your kid plays some club sport.   (And don’t even get me started on the god-awful ice rink times you are subjected to if you stupidly let your kid “try” ice hockey). 

This sports-centric MoCo world is all new to me.   You should know that I was no athlete in school – my “team” in high school was the debate team, and let’s just say Dave learned a lot of Latin in high school.  I’m sure a psychotherapist could have a field day with that confession.   But I do know that I somehow need to take a deep breath and find a better way to not get sucked into this insanity.   

The other day I was watching Alex’s ice-skating class at Cabin John when loud, fast-paced music came blasting across the speakers behind me.  A column of girls started dancing across the ice in a synchronized pattern, swooping and turning in time to the music.  I inquired what was going on and found out that a synchronized skating team (DC Edge) was practicing.  I chatted with the coach and found myself picking up an informational sheet from her table, learning that they practice twice a week and get to travel as far as Boston to compete.  I was intrigued, picturing how much Alex would love it, especially the fancy costumes, and was about to put the flyer into my purse when a voice in my head spoke up.  Lisa, put down the flyer and step away, step away from the table.   I slowly set the sign-up sheet down and took a few steps backwards, turned and then fled.  Baby steps, baby steps. 

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