Wrestling, literally and figuratively

We took another step closer to typical affluent American culture today.

My son is going to be in wrestling. That means that he will now be involved in three extra curricular activities including Youth Symphony and Scholar’s Bowl, so that satisfies the American ‘busy is better’ mentality. Oh yeah, he just began playing electric bass with a worship band as well.

It also satisfies the affluent-based fear that if our children don’t participate in as many things as possible we will somehow stifle the talents and skills that would have released their potential to be professional---what??? Wrestlers? Scholar’s? Symphonic musicians? Electric Bass players? I know he won’t be a professional wrestler. You should have seen his face the day he saw pictures of the wrestling outfits he will be wearing. He’s just wrestling because (1)he likes to test himself, (2)he admires the wrestling coach, (3)he really wants to try a sport, (4)he really really admires the wrestling coach. Professional scholar? He will always be a scholar because he has an intense curiosity about life but scholar’s bowl will not make or break that characteristic. He will not likely be a symphonic musician because he is too interested in many things to devote the hours it would take. He loves jazz and bluegrass and acoustic and sports and biking and playing games and discussing ideas and just thinking his own thoughts. The jury is still out on a professional career with the electric bass, as it is on most things for a 13 year old, but it seems unlikely.

Back to the American affluence issue. Wrestling also requires someone to drive him home from school every day instead of catching the bus in the afternoon. It joins the mentality that because we can afford to use so much gas and time driving, we should. This is something I fight against, and it is colliding head on with something I fight for.

I want to free my kids to be who they are, follow their interests, pursue their dreams. That is part of why we homeschooled when we did, and part of why we didn’t stop him from trying public school when he wanted to.

I also want to engage them in dialogue about what is important. I want to explore with them how the ways we live affect the rest of the world. And he wants to do that too. This whole discussion of his desire to wrestle and my reservations about it has been marked by mutual respect and maturity. He listens to what I have to say and tries to find ways that he can do this sport with less global impact. He acknowledges my concerns that he have enough unscheduled time to think his own thoughts. He validates my worry about what daily road time will do to my own peace of mind and my time for cooking supper. His thoughtfulness and respect are part of what makes it so much harder to say no.

I don’t know what to do when his interests and dreams collide with mine, because he isn’t at a point in his life where he can pursue those interests without me making it happen for him.

So anyway, for the next two months we will increase our consumption and our level of activity. Two months won’t kill us and it will give him a chance to evaluate if he really wants to be that busy. It will give us a chance to also evaluate and discuss together how we are affected and how we want to live.


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