Wednesday, November 10, 2010

I am guilty.  Guilty of pushing my kids a bit in some areas and not allowing them to always choose the direction of their lives. I do it often under the guise of knowing what is best as their parent.I have applied pressure to succeed in areas that they showed some talent, but just weren't interested in participating.  I know I am not alone in this fault.

The obvious first arena where this is most often witnessed is in children's sports. This day, everyone wants to push to the next level. We can't just play recreational soccer one day a week, we have to try out for special teams, travel out of town, attend special clinics. We can't just learn how to swim for the enjoyment and fun of it, we have to practice 3-5 times a week, travel to weekend meets and clock our kids' times. Their success (dropped time) or failure (added time) can dictate our mood for the weekend.

I have seen it in school and academics as well. Parents who copy schoolwork and workbooks to prevent an unsavory grade. What good does this serve the child? It kept the child on all A honor roll. Is this a reflection of his determination and hard work, or the parent's need to see their child's name on that published list?

Do we do it out of fear of our kids not being the best at whatever they are doing? Is it a one-up-man mentality? Are we always try to stay ahead of the game? Do we view our kids' success as a reflection on our success?

This past weekend, my family opted to forgo attending a swim meet. One meet would have sent us out of state for the entire weekend. The other, closer to home, would have gobbled up part of a Saturday and Sunday. It would have been Sadie's last 8 and under meet and she could have done quite well, possibly winning a couple of events. It was also the last attempt at achieving a new time standard which would have put the kids in a higher level meet in December.

Instead, we attended a magic show as a family. One child was able to attend a sleepover birthday. We attended a wonderfully powerfully and spiritually magnificent basketball game to raise funds for a boy whose cancer has relapsed. One child attended a Renaissance Fair and developed a friendship that is not part of his every day circle. I painted, cleaned and prepared for the week ahead.  It was a relaxed, no-pressure, no stress weekend.

Sometimes I think if everyone would just play by the same rules - no organized sports, no homework, no afterschool activities,  no personal electronics or cell phones UNTIL MIDDLE SCHOOL then would kids be forced to be more like kids?  Can you imagine a world like that?

Tell me your thoughts.
Recently, I shipped 16 camcorder cassettes across the country to be converted to DVDs.  It was with much intrepidation that I boxed them up and sent them via UPS. I checked on the tracking number hourly as they crisscrossed their way across the nation and back.  Finally, the package arrived at our home, the contents of which held six of the most eventful years of our lives.  It has been pure joy to watch these DVDs, the start of which coincides with my rehearsal dinner, wedding and honeymoon and ends shortly before the birth of Lily.  By then, we purchased a new camera then which was easier to download and edit on the computer.

To watch the beginning of your family, your first house, the birth of two children, moving, vacations, Christmas mornings, children playing and singing, sweet conversations between family and precious memories of those no longer with you...well, it is without words.  I have cried sweet tears of remembrance and I have laughed until my stomach ached.  Remembering life so fresh and new, so full of opportunity and anticipation has been soothing to my soul.

What has been most remarkable is watching my children speak, learn and interact in their toddler years.  They were precious, but sadly it seems lifetimes ago.  I don't recall much of what is on the tapes.  As I watched, their sweet, barely discernible voices (none of mine were ever clear talkers) filled my heart.  Their innocence bursting through, their hearts so open and believing of our God, yearning to hear about Him, talk about Him and sing about Him.  If they were those ages today, I would surely gobble them up!

Oh, the promises of those days.  The days were filled with nothing to do but mother and keep up a house. Not to down-play those tasks, as God knows the toddler years and the hours of 5 pm - 7pm are just about as dark as it gets.  However, these days, my additional duties include driving an activities cab, cramming in homework, chores, emotions that are simply inconsolable, afterschool activities, one homeschooler, world war three squabbles all the while pointing to God as I yell, "Get in the van!" 

For all the wonderful years that are behind us, how exciting to recognize how much of their lives are in front of them. Who will they be?  What will they be? What choices will they make?  For now, I'll be content reliving the past captured on those DVDs.
Anxiously, she sat on the edge of her seat, scanning to see a sign of him. She looked back at me excitedly, "I think I see him!"  She looked back to confirm her discovery only to turn and say, "No, that isn't him."  It must have felt like eternity for her,  the parking lot for a sign of his arrival. 

Her eyes lit up, her face broke a grin that was larger than her face and she ran to him as he sauntered down the sidewalk to our table.  She lept into his arms, warping her lithe legs around his, clinging to him as if she would never let him go.