Last weekend my wife asked me to help her lead a hike for a home schooling group at Garin Regional Park. I was excited about the hike because it was on one of my favorite running trails. This should have been the first clue as to why this was a bad choice. The second clue was that my wife decided to go shopping instead of going on the hike. The 3rd clue was that along with my 2 boys, nobody else showed up at the park to go on the hike. She sent out over 50 emails and expected a huge turn out.
I asked my boys if they were excited about the hike. They both said in unison "No". What? They explained that they would rather do something fun. What could be more fun than hiking on one of my favorite running trails? I live for this stuff.
Well, were sort of stuck in doing the hike. What if somebody showed up? It was my wife's hike, but I was stuck with it. And we were going to finish it. March them kids into submission!
Since nobody showed up so we decided to make the best of it and have some fun. We did have a little fun. I let the kids run through the mud and get their feet dirty. I even suggested that they throw cow pies as I did at their age. My wife is constantly harping on them to stay clean. I gave them free reign to jump on cow pies! They have been a little too stifled and were afraid of throwing cow poop. By the end of the hike, all of us were fairly dirty. I was making a little progress.
I have a hunch that a lot of what we get our kids to do, given the choice, they would not do it. This may include running on a track team, playing soccer, football, or even t-ball.
Just as we were nearing the end of our hike, I noticed some grade school kids running hill repeats for a track club. This did not look fun for adults let alone kids! The jerk blowing the whistle looked like he could barely walk a hill and he had the nerve of blowing the whistle and telling the kids to hurry up. I should have grabbed the whistle from him and made him run up and down that hill. I would bet that the kids would have rather been fishing in the nearby trout pond than running up the blasted hill. I asked my kids if they wanted to sprint up the hill and they just gave me a funny look. An evil thought came to me and I had visions of peppering this b@$tard with cow chips. I am a married man and I am supposed to be civil.
When I was a kid, I played a bunch of sports. Listen clearly. I played. I never said that I practiced. During my grade school years, we had a huge event every year called "Track & Field Days". We did it all from the shot put to the long jump. The teachers made paper ribbons for us and we loved it. We never had a day of practice and it sure was fun. What kid wants to practice sports when he can just play them?
During my t-ball years, I remember our once a week practice and what a drag it was unless the coach just let us play. My father was the coach and he was a driver. We probably only practiced for about 15 minutes and then lost interest. That is when dear old dad let us "scrimmage" as he called it. All we did was divide up into 2 teams and play ball. The games were a blast. My fondest memories were watching parents get kicked out of the game! There was no wiggle room for unruly parents.
So back to my flopped hike. When we finally completed the 90 minute hike, I asked my 2 boys what would have made the hike more fun. They said they would have had a lot fun if kids were on the hike. So much for the male bonding thoughts. They also wanted to do more exploring and go off the trail. They really did not want an organized hike. Too much organization takes the fun out playing. Do you think we should have asked Zachary and Josiah if they wanted to go on a hike? Yes. Did we ask them? No.
So why do I think adults and parents are lousy coaches for kids? Because as parents we so often push our young kids to excel when most of the time they just want to have fun playing. The best memories that I had growing up was not running track or playing hockey on a team. It was catching frogs, riding wheelies on my bicycle, and digging holes in the dirt and sand. My father never coached me on catching frogs or riding wheelies. Our neighborhood pick up games of football, baseball, and capture the flag were more life changing than varsity track or football.
I think I have a lot of "Un-coaching" to do with my boys.