Three seasons into baseball and my first born still runs from the ball, not toward the action. I’d be all right with his slow acclimation into the world of sports, only it seems every other boy on his team this spring was pursuing dreams of the Big League. Seriously! Kids his age were on travel teams already and some had private coaches to help secure their position as pitcher! My boy just wanted one of those big pixy sticks or some highly processed cheese on his nachos from the snack shack post-game.
And it’s not just sports, consider those tiger moms sending their little cubs to math camp this summer, and the kids practicing music scales for hours each day while my three sons are working on their second popsicle up in their tree-fort just south of the strawberry patch. Tendrils of snap peas growing so high, they can lean out their window and pick their own lunch.
By the time my kids roll out of bed each summer day, many of their friends are off to day camps, learning computer coding and entrepreneurial how-tos. It’s all great! It’s wonderful! The sports and the music and all the extracurricular learning opportunities are marvelous! But what if, in our mad-dash pursuit to help our children excel, we cause them to miss the extraordinary in the ordinary?
Make the Ordinary Come Alive
Do not ask your children
to strive for extraordinary lives.
Such striving may seem admirable,
but it is a way of foolishness.
Help them instead to find the wonder
and the marvel of an ordinary life.
Show them the joy of tasting
tomatoes, apples, and pears.
Show them how to cry
when pets and people die.
Show them the infinite pleasure
in the touch of a hand.
And make the ordinary come alive for them.
The extraordinary will take care of itself.
By William Martin
With Summer just around the bend, and everyone talking about camps and extra math practice and all the enriching day trips you can do on a dime, remember to balance it all out with plenty of lazy hours. Schedule in great gobs of long summer days embracing the ordinary.
The extraordinary will take care of itself!
Tears prick at my eyes when I think of the way I tend to push my children to be excellent at something now – at 7, 9, and 11. When I was their age my teachers considered holding me back a year in elementary school. I came early for remedial reading classes and often tell my boys how Mama rode the short bus to school. High school is when I began to blossom, and I continued to bloom both spiritually and educationally throughout my college years. When I graduated, top of my class surprisingly enough, I had a great understanding of how God made me and what He made me for!
But I certainly didn’t have any clue about anything extraordinary at 7, 9, and 11. Instead, I played, and I had neighborhood friends who made forts with me. We lit cobwebs on fire in the backyard, climbed trees, spent our allowance on nerds and starburst at the local 7-11, and rode bikes to the city pool in the summertime. Sure there was softball and soccer, musical theatre and singing lessons, and long lists of good books to read, but the miracle moments of my childhood were the ordinary ones.
As you plan your summertime dreams, let me encourage you to schedule in those long lazy days for the ordinary pleasures of childhood. And make sure to put your own extraordinary pursuits to the side for a chunk of time each day as well to enjoy their childhood with them. You’ll be glad you did!