Wednesday, March 16, 2011

One word says it all

"If there is something you really want to achieve, I will do everything in my power to help you achieve it." I have said this to my son on numerous occasions. Today I fell I could not live up to those words.

Most of my son's friends play lacrosse for the local club. It is not run by the school but it bears the school name and colors. Three years ago when we first heard about the Lacrosse Club, we encouraged our son to play. We were new to the town and thought it would be a great way to engage with kids outside of school. I registered him right away, paying the high membership fees without blinking. Upon receiving the list of required equipment, my wife and I were a bit shocked. Lacrosse is not like soccer or basketball, sports my son had been playing, where the equipment consists of a good pair of sneakers. Lacrosse equipment consists of a stick, shoulder pads, chest protector, elbow pads, gloves, shin guards, and of course a helmet. We found a place in Long Island that sells used equipment and one Saturday morning we drove out there to check it out. An hour later we walked out with about $200 dollars worth of pre-worn gear. We were ready.

The first day of practice was a bit of a frenzy. We walk over to the field and gaze upon about one hundred kids running around with sticks chasing the little hard rubber ball. My son was generally excited and joined the action. The coaches were all volunteers and did their best to show the kids a few moves, but overall it was a quite unorganized. The next week half the volunteer coaches were there, coaching a few of the most experienced kids and very little instruction for the others. My son seemed uninspired. The third week, we spent half the session trying to find his assigned team, only to find out it no longer existed and he had to find room on another team. Overall the club was a big disappointing and in the end we were left with a pile of used gear and out the $200 dollars membership fee.

This spring, my son has been hinting to me that he wanted to give the Lacrosse Club another try. When I asked him why, he said that all his friends play and he thought it would be fun. I did not want to disappoint him but it was hard to justify spending the almost $500 dollars again just for him to be with his friends. I pushed it off and deflected a response, thinking he was not that interested, but the hinting kept coming. I went on the website to find more information, when it would start, the practice schedule, anything to either give me cause it would be different or opening a window towards affordability. After spending time going through the website and finding none of my questions answered, I hit the phone. I called homes and spoke to the parents, who either answered my concerns or directed me to people who might. The biggest concern of mine was while speaking to parents many indicated their frustration with getting information, a steady schedule, and amount of money the league costs. 

Even after all the concerns with the Club, I really want him to play, but its also my job as a parent to make the correct choices, even if it is a tough one. I am always telling me son to not be afraid to talk to me about the things he wants to do, and he rarely asks for something. I think of my own childhood, my parents struggling to make the insurmountable ends meet, and not wanting to ask for things in fear of disappointment. I never wanted my own kids to know that feeling of denial, but the reality is parents are constantly weighting spending options, assessing situations individually, and sometimes still need to make tough choices. 

Tonights conversation in the car with my son was mostly one sided, me explaining that lacrosse will have to wait, the reasons why and alternatives, like flag football, basketball or the county lacrosse team, all clubs that are very affordable and efficiently run. The only drawback with my position is his friends do not play for those leagues. 

After laying out the facts and my thoughts, my son takes a moment to think about it and gives me a one word response, "ok...." 



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