This fall, my kids are signed up for soccer, swimming, gymnastics, rock climbing, tennis, and piano lessons. Over the summer, they also did surfing, fencing, sailing, acting, and art camp. I only have two children, and those lists cover only half the year. They are busy.
We are fortunate that we can pay for these experiences, and the kids thrive on the activity. Without it, they walk into the house after school and immediately begin asking for screen time or fighting with each other to pass the time.
While I like to avoid squabbles and encourage my children to stay physically active, those are not the primary reasons I ferry them from one thing to another. I want to provide them opportunities to find their passion and their people.
In junior high and high school, I was a swimmer. I wasn't very good; I wasn't the best on our team at anything. But it was my thing. I swam and I spent my time with swimmers. They were my people. They still are (it's a little cultish).
No matter our age, we all need our thing and our people. In elementary school, I did gymnastics. I wasn't any good at that, but at least twice a week I went to the gym with other little gymnasts. In adulthood, I've joined book clubs and made book club friends who share my interest in reading. A passion is more than a way to pleasantly pass solitary time. It is a means to find and bond with others.
I want this for my children. I want them to find things they love to do, and I want them to make friends while doing it. They will not be passionate about everything they try, but greater exposure increases the likelihood they will find something. Their passions will change, but they will make new friends with each one. If they are lucky, they each will find their thing.
At each practice, meet, or recital, I watch my kids' levels of skill and excitement. I try to predict the thing that will stick and imagine who their people will be. Gymnasts? Swimmers? Actors? Probably something else entirely. Only time will tell.
Until then, I will keep driving and packing snacks, allowing them to try everything.