There she goes again, at her swim club practice-my granddaughter Mikayla, who throws herself with joyous abandon into whatever sport she is playing. In previous years, it has been basketball, but inherently tricky knees seemed to make swimming, which she excels at anyway, the viable option. Worst case scenario, she decides she doesn’t like to do it competitively, but comes out a much stronger swimmer, which will allow her lifelong access to all the fun activities that non-swimmers have to be cautious about — everything from fishing to whitewater rafting.
Be warned, though, that this is not a joyful column. The point is this — there is, or should be, nothing more important than allowing one’s children the opportunity to excel and experiment.
I know of at least two cases where, unfortunately, this is not the case, as parents are either too lazy or too self centered to make the sacrifices to allow children with a skill and interest to pursue it. To paraphrase a favorite Geico commercial of a few years ago: “You want to know what makes me sad? That does!”
One little boy is a gifted basketball player — tall, slender, quick and tricky. He’s old enough to play for his middle school, and could do so, except that his mother is too preoccupied getting her nails perfect and making sure her hair has no flaws in it, to take the time and effort to pick him up from practice. It’s pretty obvious where her priorities lie, and the little boy is of an age where he’s just on the verge of figuring that out.
Another young fellow, of low middle school age, but too young for the middle school team, was absolutely designed to play offensive line when God came up with his blueprint. Somebody offered to pay for his little league football and get him to practice; all that the mother had to do was go and sign the boy up. Unfortunately, this seemingly involved too much effort for her to follow through on. Hopefully, the little guy will still be motivated next year, when he’s old enough to play in middle school.
The point, which is really redundant for many of my readers, is that time and money, that energy and effort, invested in one’s children, are never wasted. Never. Ever.
I still volunteer as an archery coach for the school where I taught until recently, and see firsthand, from that viewpoint, the importance of parental support. Our team practices at a location away from the school, so parents are committed to transport archers to and from practice.
The trade off? The kid who’d never shot a bow, turns out to be a natural. The tiny middle school girls who have skyrocketed in confidence. Improved ability to focus for all kids, which hopefully transfers to academics, and the chance to learn a sport in which they can still participate at age 80, arguably scoring better than they might at half that age.
It doesn’t have to be sports. It could be her music, or his art, or their drama and theater. But the few years you invest in supporting your kids, grandkids, nieces or nephews, even family friends, is priceless to them. Would you rather have tightly manicured nails, or a confident kid who believes in himself?
I know my answer.
Clyde Davis is a Presbyterian pastor and teacher at Clovis High School. He can be contacted at: