In line with my previous thoughts on family and community, I started to think of some of the choices we have made, and how and why we made them.
The first example that jumped to mind is sports teams. When summer comes, so too does sports. Last summer Colin played soccer, this year he and Caleb are in t-ball. But I have to admit that no questions other than "which sport" and "how much" really entered my mind. Now I am looking back to dissect the decision a little further.
The first question to ask should have been "what is my goal in signing my kids up for sports?"
Answer: a physical workout, and a time for family.
The current sports teams are all pretty much using the same model. Current leagues segregate by age, each age playing on different nights, at different places. The emphasis is on skill and competition. Hmm. Neither one of these ideas align with my goals for the sport. So why sign them up then?
Not playing a sport is not the answer I am looking for, because that throws out my desire for the boys to get a good physical workout. And I really like sports - I like the camaraderie that forms among team members, and I like the often intense use of my body.
I want my children to play sports, but my idea of a team would look much different: a team where all the boys can play together, where winning cannot be the emphasis because a 4 year old is never going to "hit you home", where the whole family can gather on one night at one place to watch each other play, where the older kids learn patience in teaching the younger ones, and the younger ones learn at a much greater speed as they watch the example of the older ones. When I break down what I want to get out of a sport, it makes our decision easier.
The soccer league we played in last year was close to exemplifying the above. In fact, it's probably as close as an organization can be, in light of the opposite (competitive) goals of many parents out there. The whole league played on one night, at one location. While the ages were segregated, there was still a good chance you could catch some or all of everyone's games. It was inexpensive, which allowed access to the sport for all, and the emphasis was on learning the game and having fun. Unfortunately, Colin really didn't take to soccer all that well. But I'm not going to throw out that one, just keep it on the back burner for the future.
Perhaps the best idea would be to organize my own organization. I envision families all gathered together to watch/play with each other. Perhaps there are loose divisions: a primary age (3-10), a teen age (11-17) and an adult age (18+) While I prefer the idea of families all playing together, I can also see the possible danger of a 6 year old trying to catch a throw from a 15 year old. I say the divisions are loose, because I wouldn't prevent a family from having their kids play on the same team, for the sake of a few years. Rather than an official organization, it would run more like a community pickup game. Word spreads that family and friends are gathering to play, all welcome.
You never know. Perhaps there are just enough parents out there with like-minded views that something like this might actually catch on.