"We're Not That Kind of Family"

As readers of this blog will know, I love sports, and sport is an important part of this family's life together. I coach the kids' basketball teams, we're big Gator fans, and the kids come out to my rugby matches on Saturdays.

My oldest kid is eight right now, and three of the four kids currently play organized sports (the other is too young). They play basketball and soccer. I've talked to my daughter about playing volleyball, and the boys know they'll get a chance to play football and rugby when they're older, and we'll see if the kids ever get over the basketball fever that's been sweeping the house for months.

The boys accepted with equanimity the fact that they wouldn't be playing flag football in the summer; the argument that it would be better to wait and play real football seemed to them to have some weight. There are other sports they've expressed some interest in: George in baseball, Joffre in ice hockey, sports some of their friends play. A big reason I've told them they probably won't ever play those are cost and the logistics of being a family of too many sports. I can't imagine having one kid playing ice hockey, another volleyball, another basketball, and another lacrosse, all at the same time of year. Especially if we have other kids! Still, I don't want to tell George he can't play baseball because we're too lazy, or don't have enough time...it might be true, but the kid could read it as not caring enough about his wishes.

Another explanation I've proffered to explain why we as a family focus on certain sports is just as true as the logistical explanation, and since I think it's more satisfying to a child, it's the one I've given.

If a kid asks me "Why don't we play baseball?" I explain that kids usually play the sports their fathers played. That it doesn't have to be that way, but that it's a good thing...the sons love what the fathers do. I tell them that the fathers can teach the ins and outs of their sports in a much deeper way, so the kids get better at those faster, and begin to enjoy those sports more. I tell them that it doesn't have to be that way, but that before they're teenagers that's how we're going to roll. And I tell them that I think that when they're teenagers that's how they'll decide to continue rolling.

Their friends who play different sports than ours all have families that love those sports; I drop in on my pastor with one of the kids, and he and his boys are watching the replay of Barcelona and Real Madrid; the kid who moved down from upstate NY and plays ice hockey and lacrosse; the former Navy pilot who played baseball as a kid and had his boys in t-ball as soon as he could.

There are others aspects of our lives that our children understand are culturally distinct from other families we know, and they relish the differences; it helps form their identity.

Several kids were over at the house yesterday. One of the baseball-playing kids is going to play lacrosse this spring with the kid from New York. He asked my daughter if she'd be interested in playing lacrosse with them. Her answer:

"We're not that kind of family."

No, we're not.