When my son got to the age of having "activities" outside of our home, we were in the position of making some decisions about how we wanted our family life to look. Having met several of his 4-year old friends' moms who literally had a separate day planner for their 4 year old's activities, I was taken aback. I noticed that although both parents had full-time jobs as did Jack and I, they also had a nanny who was in charge of getting said child to all these activities. And that was not happening at the McKinney household. I was teaching at the time and was experiencing the older children who were living this same lifestyle. I remember one young lady who was very bright, but could not be quiet. She was so obnoxiously social, it was causing problems in my class. I ran a very independent style classroom, and this young lady couldn't organize her time on her own to complete any assignment. When I sat down with her, the issue became glaringly obvious. She was at French lessons every morning before school from 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. Then she came straight to school. After school, she had about 30 minutes at the daycare next door before being shuttled over to gymnastics where she worked out from 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. 4 days a week. Then it was home, dinner, and finish any homework that was not done in the 30 min. at daycare. Weekends were spent playing soccer, going to gymnastic meets, and more practice. This child was exhausted and the only free-time she had was in my classroom. So, she used that time to "play". Because all children need "play" time. Out of all this, came our family's philosophy. You may do one activity at a time.
So, Stephen's first choice was soccer. This proved to not be a great sport for him. He was very good at the actual sport, but the running into people and knocking them down, was too hard for him. He would score a goal and go back and apologize to the other kid! So the next year he chose baseball. Every season we would ask, "what do you want to try this season?" and his answer was always "BASEBALL!!"
Allie on the other hand, tried ballet, gymnastics, piano, and then singing in the Capital City Girls' Choir. She thought about trying softball or soccer, but when it became clear that she could not choose the color of her jersey, and she might have to wear something other than pink....she opted out! Yep, a girlie girl from the beginning.
This method of one activity has really worked for our family. Especially since we rarely had conflicts with either child's schedules. Stephen played year round with a 3 month break in Dec., Jan., and Feb. Allie's schedule was pretty set every Monday during the school year she had choir and then one performance in December and one in May. Very quickly, baseball began to take over our family life. Many a birthday and anniversary were spent at a baseball field. We got to travel to some pretty neat places to watch baseball. We have made some good friends watching our sons play. Granted, as Allie got older, the allure wore off for her.
Last year when Stephen left for college, we knew our lives would change. But surprisingly, baseball was the common thread. We went down many weekends in the fall and spring to watch scrimmages and games. Our family traveled to Savannah, GA, to a tournament. So, even though my house didn't smell like baseball anymore, baseball was still a huge part of our lives.
Stephen has made a decision that will change our lifestyle. He has finally decided it is time to move on to something new and leave baseball behind. I think he has sacrificed so much for this sport over the years, that he is ready to just live. He wants to get on with his life. He realized that baseball as a way of life, wasn't what he wanted. Having recently gone through Jack's major life change, we get it! We are sad of course, it is the end of a childhood dream. But we are excited to see where life leads him now. He will be leaving UNC-Pembroke, which he really hated, and will enter Appalachian this fall. He is excited.
So this summer will be his finale. He will play with his legion team, and many of his childhood friends, as a farewell to the sport that has shaped him and seen him through many years.
Our lifestyle will change dramatically. No more running to Pembroke on the weekends for a game. No more baseballs in my yard. No more net in my driveway. No more buying summer clothes with "sitting in the sun for hours and sweating" in mind.
So, I will savor this summer. I will cherish every play, every dirty uniform, every bit of red clay all over my house, and every smelly hat! I will sit back and enjoy sharing this family lifestyle for just a little bit more.
Then, come fall, I will still have Allie and her Monday rehearsals.....I will cherish every moment driving her to and fro. For I will have learned that I will miss our family philosophy: You may do one activity at a time.