There are those text messages that change your day. Sometimes the change is for the better. And sometimes it’s for the worse.
I got one of those text messages the other day.
And this time the change was for the better.
Soccer practice was cancelled.
Soccer practice. We love it. Really, we do. It’s fun to see our kids get better and have fun running around with their friends. Running through the grass and chasing a ball is always better than sitting on the couch while a digital version of yourself chases a ball for you.
But sometimes soccer, or any childhood sport for that matter, can get out of hand. If my sons keep playing, they’ll spend a significant portion of their lives on the road, driving from one game to the next. I have my concerns. Other people have told me that I need to think long term. Think about what soccer could do for us. Think about the college scholarship.
“No pressure son, but if you don’t play well today it could end up costing the family somewhere around $54,000. Now get in your car seat.”
At some point in this country it became acceptable to stop enjoying your kids and to start using them as vehicles for reliving your failed childhood endeavors. Or, as the ticket to free college tuition. Working for a college scholarship is great if you’re, I don’t know, four or five years away from graduating from high school. It’s not such a good idea when you’re four.
We’ve gotten things mixed up with what it means to be a parent. When our kids are barely old enough to walk, we expect them to be adults. Once a lady told my wife that something was probably wrong with our then one-year-old because he wasn’t using complete sentences. Her four-month-old was already diagraming sentences, writing a doctoral thesis and was a minority owner of the New York Jets.
But we never stop to think about the consequences if our kids get burned out on our dream for them before they even turn 12. What then? Or what if they get the scholarship and don’t know what to do with it because their parents were more like coaches than, well, parents? More and more, here’s what’s happening today. They move back in with mom and dad so that they can have the childhood they never had. At 30. Aren’t they so cute at that age?
So earlier this week, my two boys took a few steps back in their journey for a college soccer scholarship. But, if there is a college offering a scholarship in jumping on a trampoline, things are looking pretty good. At the time of this writing, I think that Auburn University is the only school offering such a scholarship.
Instead of learning how to dribble, pass and steal, my kids jumped on the trampoline with their dad. And they learned a lot. Like how to laugh. And how to get up and jump again when you fall head first off the trampoline. Don’t tell their mom about that one.
There was another lesson learned too. They learned that their dad enjoys spending time with them. Even when there is no schedule. And no agenda.
One of these days, my kids will quit playing soccer. It might be next year or it might be when they turn 60. I don’t know. And I really don’t care.
But as long as they are alive, they can’t quit being men.
And once they become men, I hope that they remember all of the lessons that they learned.
Lessons on the trampoline.
With their dad.