When You Have an Activity, So Do I

My kids are involved in kind of a lot. We're not overcommitted, but I wouldn't mind doing less. I never intended to be a Soccer Mom and probably swore I would not have one of those families with complicated, child-led schedules.

And we're not. I am exaggerating, but I bet everyone says that.

Our only outside activities are actually sports. We don't attend co-op or church youth groups or Classical Conversations. We don't have a play group or any other obligations clogging up our schedule at all. We're free to go to the library or on a camping trip whenever; there's nothing we have to do. We only have sports. Still, committing to an activity with a weekly instruction schedule is something my husband requires in our homeschool, so we do have to be serious about our sports.

With practice requirements, organized sign ups, time commitments, travel, and regionally recorded scores, swim team was well-beyond what I expected to encounter in an elementary sport. It was much more serious than just-for-fun.

This year was the first summer we had swimmers on the swim team, and it was our first foray on a real, full-fledged sports team. Outside of swim, the kids do soccer and softball seasonally with a local homeschool group, but that's not serious. It's fun recreation; we don't sing the national anthem or anything there. A couple of moms (and dads) are needed per team for the hour of practice/games, no huge commitment. Swim was something else altogether.

With practice requirements, organized sign ups, time commitments, travel, and regionally recorded scores, swim team was well-beyond what I expected to encounter in an elementary sport. It was much more serious than just-for-fun. And it was here that I was introduced to mandatory volunteering for parents. Yes, mandatory volunteering. Before swim, when I signed one of the kids up for soccer or golf, I was not also signing myself up. I wasn't really committing to the team. We would go to practice and games, or we wouldn't. I may have said it mattered to the team, but we all knew it really didn't. In swim we were all on the team. And necessary.

The younger ones not on the team had to entertain themselves. My husband and I both had assignments -- usually, we were timers. There was no dropping your kid off and going back to your own life and work. If they were on the team, we'd all have to be on the team. So, we were. When the meet went on in the pouring rain, we all stood around in the pouring rain. When Charlie was reluctant about putting his face in the water, I jumped in with him, and we both put our faces in the water. We were exhausted and uncomfortable together when there were too many people in too small a space. And did I mention how I dislike the water? Just take a puff or two on the inhaler and smile!

That worked, just so you know. By the end of the season, that boy was jumping in, no sweat. In fact, I started learning to swim myself by copying him!

I just entered the realm of dance with Charlotte. I had no idea what I agreed to. No idea. All those people backstage making the show run? Parents. They're parents.