At the beginning of the summer, I asked Will if he wanted to do any summer activities.
Thankfully, he said no.
So we spent our summer days swimming, playing outside, playing with friends, traveling, and being spontaneous because we could.
I also learned something about this kiddo -
he needs free time. He does better when he has unstructured time to just play outside. He needs time to creatively entertain himself and come up with his own games. He needs time to learn how to play with people of different ages and how to work things out as he plays with neighbors. He needs to run barefoot and explore and sweat.
Days filled with activities wear him (& me out) and he doesn't really enjoy that.
I haven't figured out this whole activity part of parenting. I feel the pressure - pressure to figure out what my kid excels at NOW so he can start that activity NOW so he can be successful asap. I feel the pressure that if we don't figure it out NOW, then by the time the select or club teams start forming in mid-elementary school, we won't be able to participate and then his whole future is over.
(I'm being dramatic on purpose.)
The reality is that there is pressure. There is pressure to find something he loves AND is good at. There's also pressure to try a variety of activities (sports/art/music/religious) and good grief, how do you fit all that in plus nap time?
(I am NOT giving up naps yet.)
(Also - he needs his nap just as much as he needs free play time outside every day!)
Of course, as a mom of kiddos who spend a lot of time with doctors and/or therapists, that is a consideration too when it comes to planning. It doesn't seem right to me to count doctor's visits as "activities" but they do take up time and affect ability to commit to activities.
I apologize - I did not mean this to be a soapbox! I'm just wrestling with figuring out my philosophy on activities and how to help my kids find activities they can enjoy - while also keeping time in their days to just play outside and not lose my mind from an overcrowded schedule.
(I do better too with free time in the evenings.)
This fall, I asked Will if he wanted to try any activities.
Since he was 2, he has tried the following (at different phases of his life):
swimming lessons, kung fu, t-ball, soccer, gymnastics
This fall, he said he would love to learn tennis! He also said he wanted to try an acting class. (Specifically, he said, "I've wanted to act for my entire life!" If that's not dramatic, I don't know what is.)
This was perfect! No Saturday games. Activities I could schedule around our nap routine/doctor's visits/family dinners, etc.
I'm also a big fan of activities that (1) can be done year round (like tennis or swimming), (2) can be played for life (like tennis or swimming) & (3) work the entire body (like tennis or swimming)
When my kiddo expresses interest in a lifelong activity like tennis or swimming, I want to make that happen.
Of course, I get that tennis might be complicated for a kiddo with limb differences on all 4 limbs!
I called a local tennis coach and we chatted for a few moments.
(I've tried activities both ways - where we prepare the coach ahead of time and reassure them Will can do the activity and also where we just show up & Surprise!!)
After a few moments, I asked him if he feels like he is generally a creative coach. He hesitated and said yes, he thought he was creative.
Then, I sprung Will on him. I told him Will is athletic and determined and I was confident he could do tennis - but we might have to get creative on form and technique.
The coach said ok.
And Will loves his tennis lessons!
He spends about 45 minutes working with his coach.
We've tried a prosthetic grip for serving but it made the racquet too heavy for him so we are rethinking that.
Ellie and I watch and do preschool during tennis time.
I love watching him enjoy a new sport and being able to schedule it on our own time. For the first fall of big school and the demands of 8am start time, being able to schedule our activities and not having late nights has been really good.
He laughs a lot on the court and I've seen his confidence improve too as he gets better and better. He really likes his coach and likes that this is an activity we can play as a family.
So, tennis! Yay!
(and it's once a week, after his nap but before dinner so he still has time for rest & free play time outside!
Game. Set. Match made in heaven.
Also - terrible, fuzzy picture -
but Will is also enjoying his acting class and preparing for his first play (with a speaking role!)
He plays a bad guy and gets to carry a gun for a prop and wear a mask so that makes him very happy.
He has a lot of lines but is doing pretty good and getting them memorized.
This is a once a week activity too after naptime. It also ends in 2 weeks (I admit that I like activities that have about a 2-3 month lifespan sometimes.)
I don't know what my kids will excel at. I have no idea what activities they may want to pursue next year or even next spring. I'm learning that each parent has to figure out what their kid needs and enjoys and what works best for their family in each season. For this season of life - with a kid starting big school (even though he gets out at 1pm), and doctors visits, and needing free time - these two activities have been good for Will.