Yesterday the family took a trip to Target for various household necessities.
I do not know if all Target stores are laid out in the same way, but whoever was responsible for this Target’s lay-out was a wily soul. For right there at the very entrance were shelves upon shelves of cheap, eye-catching doodads and toys and other objects sure to delight a small person of the Critter’s size. And because I am not at all above using bribery to further my ends as a parent, I allowed my child to pick an item that he would like. (The deal was that the item would remain in the cart for the duration of the time in the store. It would be removed and transferred to our car for transport home if the Critter was sufficiently cooperative. It would go back on the shelf if minimum levels of cooperation were not met.)
He chose a foam-rubber football. As he did a really good job behaving himself, he got to take the football home. And he went to naptime with a promise that we would throw the ball around when he awoke.
But getting back to the trip to the store, one of the things he wanted to do while we were there was look at the big wall of television sets in the electronics department. I was quite happy to accommodate this request as the Better Half selected items for purchase, so off we went to the electronics department. And we spent many happy minutes while the televisions (all displaying the same image) showed various Target promotions with vibrant red-and-white animated shorts.
Interspersed with these animated promos were occasional live-action bits. One of these bits was a montage of exciting moments from various professional football games. What it was promoting, I don’t recall. But that’s not important. What is important, at least for the purposes of this post, is that the Critter really seemed to enjoy watching those brief snippets of football.
I have a sneaking suspicion that my son is going to be good at sports. He is already very good at kicking the soccer ball, which he will gleefully do for extended periods of time. When I held the football for him, he also got pretty good at punting it. I am delighted to see him enjoying himself so much, and really hope he finds in sports activities that help him have fun, get exercise, learn teamwork and feel like he can excel.
I know just about nothing about sports. (More on this in the next day or so, I believe.) I never played them as a child except for one lackluster season each of soccer and baseball. While I love running, I did not discover this until I was in my 30s, and who knows if I would have liked running competitively as a kid. Furthermore, I rarely watch sports for pleasure, except for the occasional tennis match (a game I have never played), baseball games if there’s nothing else on, or the Olympics. The only times I ever watch football are when I am someone else’s house and it’s on. And even though it’s been explained to me several times, I still don’t remember what a “safety” is.
Do I think my son must grow to like playing or watching sports? No, of course not. But I know lots and lots and lots of people do like sports, and I don’t want him to miss out on something he’d really enjoy just because I have no interest in it. So I have sincere questions for you sports-loving parents out there.
First of all, my son is nearly four. Kicking the soccer ball around I have down. I have no idea how one plays football with a kid his age. Is there a “right” way to play with a football with a preschooler? Or is that a ridiculous question? Am I over-thinking things?
And when did you start watching sports as a kid? Football seems awfully rough to me, and there’s no way I would ever want him to play it himself. (That’s part of my reluctance, as is my desire not to have him emulate the tackling he sees in real life.) Did you start watching football with your kids when they were in preschool?
I really have no idea how one introduces sports culture to one’s kid, but I want him to appreciate it and enjoy it if that’s the kind of kid he’s going to be. And so I’m asking those of you who do appreciate and enjoy sports in a way I never have how you shared them with your own kids (or parents, for that matter).