Harry and Dad glass the mountain
Letters to Harrison,  Parenting

“Sports Families” or “Recreation Families”

Physical activities can be classified into two groups: structured sports, and recreational hobbies. Both come with a unique set of skills and lessons. Both take commitment, and it’s challenging to be fully committed to both. Harrison, I want you to do whatever makes you happy, but I often wonder where your interests will lie.

There are “sports families” or “recreation families”, which category will we fall under?

We didn’t do a lot of “vacations” in my childhood, Harrison, despite travelling extensively throughout our region. I once posed the question to your Papa,  “Why don’t we go camping?”

His response: “When would we go?”.

He was right, when would we go? Between swim meets, soccer games, dance competitions, baseball, and hockey tournaments, it was a rare occurrence that any of our family had a free weekend. In most cases when we did, it was a  treat, and we’d celebrate it by doing absolutely nothing.

There are two types of families” I recall your Papa saying: “Those who do sports, and those who do recreation, because it is very difficult to do both“.

 

He was right, and while thats not to say we never got weekends at the lake, or shopping trips to nearby cities, I can confidently say we were most definitely a “sports family”.

Our activities gave us joy, and I recall with pride my parents (your Grandma and Papa) saying “If you are committed to something, then so are we”. They stood by that every opportunity that presented.

I’m sure they got little satisfaction getting up to leave home at 5:30 am for swim-meets, or volunteering to sit and mindlessly time races as parents were expected to do. They did it though, and thats how they reflected MY commitment. In the process, I think they set a pretty positive example.

The volunteer timing position?

It gave your Papa a front row seat to some of my greatest races, and one of my most powerful memories of my “sporting career” is of him nearly falling into the pool from lanes away screaming that I’d just achieved my first provincial medal.

Much of the pride in my success was pride I felt for my support system. I hope that someday, Harrison, our support of your interests will make you feel pride too.

I tried a bit of everything before finding my strengths. To this day, I thank the work-ethic and team-work mentality I developed in structured sports. My team-mates were my friends, pushing me to excel. My coaches acted as my “conscience”, patiently pushing me, and promoting commitment as the route to achieving success.

You are in a curious predicament.

The reason?

While I grew up passionate and proud of my “sporting family”. Your father shares that pride, but with memories of his “recreational pursuits”.

From the pump-track in the backyard, to nights spent at the snowmobile cabin, your Dad’s childhood was idyllic also, though very different from my own. He hunted, biked, camped, and played with big “toys”.

There are many lessons to be had there, too.

Your Dad is one of the most responsible people that I know. Where my screw-ups could let the team down, Dad screwing up while hunting, or dirt biking could seriously hurt someone. He needed to prepare gear, food, maintain equipment, and when breakdowns occurred-pay the price.

I could slack off for a day and not have it seriously affect my physique. To slack on equipment or safety, though, could result in life altering events every time your father left pavement.

These pursuits have made your Dad “intrinsically motivated”. He pushes himself to be excellent, because it gives HIM satisfaction. No one else relies on him being the best off that jump other than himself. HE gains the most reward from improvement.

Me? I can tell you right now there were days where the one reason I went to practice was because if I didn’t, I was letting other people down.

Your Dad isn’t necessarily passionate about teamwork, though. He likes to be self reliant, since that way “no one can let him down”. I think he misses out sometimes: I receive tons of support from my “team”, and couldn’t imagine not having that.

We both feel pretty strongly about the life lessons learned from our activities. I’ve already stated, you are in a predicament, little boy!

Not quite a “predicament”, necessarily…

…but I can guarantee in a few years, you will be one busy child, since there is a long list of activities waiting to be discovered!

Which way will you “lean”?

Will you pursue laid back recreational sports, motivating yourself toward excellence? (And perhaps a broken arm or two).

Will you take a structured, focused approach, learning teamwork, and gaining recognition? (And I suppose still run the risk of breaking an arm or two).

Will you immerse yourself into both worlds- and if you do, will the takeaway include the best traits from each?

I reflect on the characteristics we’ve gained in our activities, and I can appreciate both. If we can raise you with the positive skills each of these “worlds” can provide, I’d say we’ve been successful.

“Sports Families” or “Recreation Families”

I value commitment, and I will hold you to that, but I’ll never make you engage in an activity you have no interest in. Your Papa will never be more excited than watching you lace up your first pair of skates, just as your Dad feels pride each time he shares with you his love of hiking. Don’t forget, however, that’s who THEY are.

Know that YOUR satisfaction will make every single one of us more joyful and excited than our own vision for you ever could. I will be proud of you regardless of your interests.

In my first post, Letters to Harrison, I wish you happiness, and that you’ll carry positive memories of your childhood. You will, no matter what hobbies you chose. I look forward to the memories we’ll make, whatever the pursuit may be.

Whether we wind up a “sports family” or “recreation family”, I look forward to the friends we have yet to meet, cheering you on as you pursue your goals, and the opportunities we’ll have to grow stronger as a family “team”.

What activities did you do growing up? Was your family a “sports family” or a “recreation family”?

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