I was blessed to have such loving and supportive parents and grandparents who carefully observed my interests and inclinations, and patiently enrolled me in various classes and camps to further develop my skills. Because of this–as parents well know with their own children–it was inevitable that I grew up exposed to the same athletic and artistic environments.
My first sport was swimming. I remember my Lolo Amado bringing my siblings and I to the nearby village clubhouse every Sunday just to play in the water. A few years later, I formally asked my parents if I could take swimming classes. I was enrolled in the clinic of the only reputable swimming coach then—Mario Lozada—before joining several competitions.
Now, having a daughter who practically has gills and fins, I share with her my recognitions in my younger years when I received gold medals for the butterfly stroke.
For a time I was also into figure skating and would compete abroad for basic levels but then refused to push through with advanced freestyle levels when the ice badly hurt my behind every time I’d fall.
A year later, when I was in sixth grade, the school basketball team recruited me because I was the tallest in my batch. I played for a year until I heard my dad say, “Nag-aagawang buko. Takbo ng takbo, hindi naman maka-shoot.”
Finally, I pursued volleyball in high school and became part of University of the Philippines Integrated School’s varsity team.
While we were the weakest team during my time, I was more than happy to be training in my first team sport and having my daily fill of heart-pounding play. This sport has been stuck to my skin since then.
In college, however, I could no longer commit to playing for the school team but I would still join leagues within Ateneo. It was also during this time that I was introduced to Futsal or indoor football, which I would practically play every weekend!
Undeniably, sweating has been part of my system. My athletic involvements conditioned me to include daily weight, resistance or circuit trainings, which consequently encouraged my daughter to engage in sports herself.
Seeing that her mom makes time for the gym or waking up to mummy doing planks and swinging kettlebells have exposed Gummy to the idea that exercise is part of our daily routine. Although since she does PE in school, as a parent it is also my responsibility to inculcate in her the importance of having daily physical activities, be it running at the lawn or playing in the park during vacation.
This concept of daily sweat also was the avenue for me to observe the physical strengths and natural inclinations of my child, which led me to discover sports she may be interested to learn more.
When I saw that Gummy loved the water when she was just two, I let her take swimming lessons. When I saw that she was good at balancing at four, I got her a scooter. When she became very fast and good at that in the next two years, she graduated to trying out a bike.
Another amazing observation I had about my daughter is that she can’t catch balls but she can hit them with a bat or a racket so easily that I made her try badminton. Most recently, because we have been having gentler pillow fights and bed wrestling, she has also explored tumbling and doing headstands against the wall, and finally inquired about gymnastics. This has become her chosen summer activity, besides her voice lessons.
So parents, do not hesitate to enroll your children in different classes and clinics even if their minds and interests keep changing. Trust me–they change their minds frequently. I know that budget is always a concern, but let us not deprive our kids of the opportunity to discover where they are good at and foster an encouraging environment to explore.
Let your children engage in physical activities to balance “bum time.” Teach them chores so they learn about responsibilities of a family member. Travel and build happy memories with them for them to appreciate life more. But most importantly, be careful not to neglect their spiritual lives.
Just like muscles that are trained in the gym, our spiritual lives need to continuously develop as well. Be reminded by Paul in 1 Timothy 4:8 “Physical training is good but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” Read the Bible to your children, conduct family devotionals and discuss practical applications of what you have read and learned.
Finally, parents, may we always be guided by Proverbs 22:6, “to train up our children in the way they should go so that when they are old they will not depart from it.” Overall, training for life cannot exclude our kids’ spiritual lives, which is impacted by all the big and small choices we make for them and they decide upon in their lifetime.