“Do you play sports?” they ask curiously, just making conversation.
Your kid shuffles his feet a bit, searching for an answer that won’t sound lame. He knows the drill and somehow he’s come to know that saying he doesn’t play sports results in an awkwardness he can’t explain.
“No, I’m not into sports.”
And that’s usually where the conversation ends. Enter the crickets and an additional question meant to cover the awkwardness, but just doesn’t. He’d love to say he’s into other things, but there’s not always a smooth transition or good segue into a change in topic.
Not to be too sensitive, but it’s a well-meaning question that encapsulates the opinion of the majority of our society: If your kids aren’t excelling in athletics, they’re second rate.
I don’t often “rant” about topics that bother me around here. It’s a gentle space to live and breathe as a mom, and that’s my intention with this piece too.
As a person who grew up with a life steeped in athletics and activities of many kinds and can’t imagine her formative years without it, I know what it meant in my life, but it wasn’t everything.
Involvement in t-ball, softball, gymnastics, basketball, dance, volleyball, track, swimming, and cheerleading peppered my entire childhood. I even have a Bachelor of Education with an emphasis in Physical Education. Physical activity has played a major role in my life. It was my main squeeze all those years.
Extracurriculars taught me a lot about doing hard things, teamwork, and dedication, yes. Being involved as a child taught me a lot of things, but it didn’t make me who I am today or give me a boost other kids didn’t get.
I was simply doing what I loved with no outside pressure on me. It seems to have taken an ugly turn in recent decades since I was a kid, or maybe it was there all along and I was sheltered from it.
Parents have gone completely nuts, and it shows by their behavior in the stands and in the ways they pressure their kids at home. Let’s not forget the pressure put on kids about college and how excelling at sports can lead to scholarships. This way of thinking has us all believing that being outwardly excellent somehow makes you excellent.
Society as a whole is missing it. We’re missing it. These activities are amazing and helpful, but they aren’t everything.
Why do we adhere to the notion that our kids are a success only if they’re excelling in sports, music, dance, academics, and other similar activities? What if they’re excelling in the goodness of their hearts? What about that?
Many of our children don’t have a “thing” they’re known for. But they’re awesome people. This counts. It majorly counts.
God says it’s good enough, and that’s good enough for me.
In biblical history, King David was one who was known as having a heart after God’s. (1 Sam 13:14, Acts 13:22) He was just an ordinary shepherd boy when chosen as the future king. His talent didn’t get him anointed, but his heart did.
Here’s to all the awesome kids who don’t excel in a way that makes them stand out from the crowd, but have a heart God loves.
So maybe the question we should be asking kids is this: What do you like to do?
Because we all have something. Let’s make that something a thing to be celebrated no matter how much recognition one might receive or not receive for it.
God is the only one who can hold a true and accurate measuring stick. Let’s step back, applaud a heart that shines, and let Him do His thing.