We are back from vacation and a lovely one it was, with equal parts solitude and company, activity and leisure, familiarity and newness. The San Juans can't be beat for beachcombing, camping and hanging out with former Laestadians. Our last day culminated in 17 lbs of u-pick blueberries, a sizable quantity of which is staring at me as I write this, as if eager to be made into jam.
(Did you know Laestadius drafted his sermons with a quill and blueberry juice? Me neither.)
Before I get to work, I want to say something about sports. Obviously there is good and bad to be found in anything as broad and varied (and ancient, predating written history) as "sports." Unexposed in my impressionable years, I have little interest in professional sports, although I've been thrilled by a few Mariners games (not this season, alas), and I love watching the Olympic Games. My hubby feels pretty much the same. When we began our family, we wondered what role sports should play in our lives. His swimming, my yoga? Hiking, bicycling? Certainly we wanted our children to be active and healthy. With no family history to draw on, no relatives to consult, no prohibitions or expectations, we looked around to evaluate the case for kids' sports.
In the families we knew, both Laestadian and non, there were a few unfortunate kids whom we thought would have benefited from sports or some other time-consuming passion (science, chess, music, art) that would have kept them preoccupied and self-assured during those crazy middle school years. Sadly, drugs filled the void. Drugs offered both a pastime and an escape from their feelings of inferiority and separateness. Some are still whirling in that vortex. Among their parents, there is not one that doesn't regret not making sure their kids were kept busy after school.
Sports do keep you busy.
Among the children we knew who played sports, the sole downside was that one boy had been injured, several times, on a college football field.
So (in our admittedly small but nonetheless relevant sample) we saw, on the one hand, drugs and alienation, and on the other, a broken collar bone, a twisted ankle. None of the athletic children went on to play sports professionally. None seemed to suffer an excess of pride or aggression.
It was not hard to pick. Yes on sports in our family, but hold the football.
At their young ages our children have tried t-ball, baseball, soccer, tennis, martial arts, Irish dancing, ballet, swimming, basketball and gymnastics. They have played on leagues, in camps, and on the playground. Their coaches have been incredibly decent, teaching their own and our children important life skills along with the game.
Our kids are learning to win and lose gracefully, to listen to their bodies, to respect individual differences, to stretch their limits and compete against themselves. They are learning humility, the kind that knows the true measure of a person is character, not ability. They know that individuals are not equally gifted, but every person can progress with practice.
Given our experiences so far, I feel confident that there are many more advantages than disadvantages.
But you don't have to take my word for it. Studies indicate that children's involvement in sports helps them with schoolwork, improves health, and protects against smoking, drug use, and teen pregnancy.
RWB refers to a "beer league" or a "church league" but I have never encountered either. Maybe that's a Clark County thing. There are many leagues in these parts, but they are defined by the sport, location, and age or ability or gender of the participants. Adults have a zillion opportunities to get active, too. Why let the kids (and the spoiled overpaid multizillionaire pros) have all the fun?
I'm thinking about joining an amateur softball league, as I've learned the amazing satisfaction of a solid base hit. If the games include a celebratory beer afterward, so much the better. It feels so good to be free.