Tag Archives: children

Doctors, Dribblers, and Dreamers

Muddy kidThis morning, I went to my grandkids’ school to take part in a sort of career fair, meeting with 5th through 7th graders in small groups. One of the things that we did as we met each group was to ask them what they wanted to be professionally. If their answers are to be any guide, the world will soon have an overabundance of doctors and professional athletes.

Reality will almost certainly set in over the coming years for these kids. Let’s look at what the NCAA predicts for high school soccer players. According to their figures, 417,000 high school boys are playing soccer. Of those 5.7% will play in college. That’s 23,769 college players. And of those, the NCAA predicts that 1.4%  or 332 will be drafted by the MLS. If those numbers are correct, then the average high school soccer player has a .08% chance of being drafted by MLS. That’s not quite 1 in 10,000 or 1 out of every 500 high school teams. The odds are even worse when it comes to basketball.

So what did we say when these 5th through 7th graders–all of them boys, by the way–indicated a desire to play professional sports? Did we say, “You’re an idiot! You’re not going to be good enough to do that. Even if your body does hold up through college, it’s probably not strong enough to do what you want to do”? Of course not. We asked them, politely, if they had a back-up plan in case that didn’t work out.

But then there’s the whole doctor thing. Just as some kids will simply not have the physical ability to play professional sports–forget about the mental habits–some kids won’t have the mental powers to make medical school happen. These kids will need good grades in reasonably demanding classes, plus they’ll need to do a decent job on the MCAT. I don’t have exact numbers like those provided by the NCAA for athletes, but I do know that in 2013, only about 40% of the 48,000 students who applied to medical school got in. We have to remember that not too many students who are clearly not med school material will be applying. Of those who do get in, perhaps 85% will graduate, but some of these middle-school would-be-doctors will simply not have what it takes.

Whether we are talking about our body or of our mind, the reality for most of us is that we typically ask too little of it rather than too much. What if those two 5th graders who proclaimed their intention to play professional soccer don’t make it? What if they only play on a high school team and have fun? Would that be terrible? What if they get some college scholarship money and get to play a game they enjoy at the same time? Wouldn’t that be awful?

Or what if the med school wannabes wash out and “only” become nurses or physical therapists? Terrible, right? What if their push to become doctors simply helps them to get better grades? I can think of many worse outcomes.

The problem that most of these kids will face, if they are typical, is that they’ll probably never know whether they were strong enough or smart enough to make those dreams a reality. They’ll probably quit on themselves at some point along the way, deciding that playing soccer or practicing medicine just isn’t worth the effort each day.

They might make that decision, but I’m not ever going to be the one to help them quit on themselves.

The Cheapest Home Gym

I love the idea of effectively multitasking. A lot of supposed multitasking just involves task shifting. But there are things we can do while performing some mindless task. I’ve been contemplating a “Standing Desk Workout” for some time. Now along comes Kyle James with “10 Ways to Get a Good Workout…Even with Kids.”

My favorite of these ten ways is dropping to do push-ups while giving the kids a bath. Seriously!

While the kids are in the bath, grab 10 quick push-ups on the bathroom floor. When I first started doing this, I had a hard time doing more than five so I modified the exercise by doing push-ups from my knees. After a couple weeks, I was able to throw in some standard push-ups as well. Once you are able to do more of them, switch to “sets” of push-ups. Three sets of 10, several times a week, will quickly strengthen your abs, backs, triceps, and core all while your child splashes in the tub.

If you don’t mind the general oddness of that, I’m pretty sure that you can manage to do a set of push-ups while simultaneously making sure the kids don’t drown. That’s multitasking and a good stewardship of your time.

Watch TV, Kids, and Get Fat!

Shocking Scientific Finding: Kids who watch a lot of TV get fatter!

I’m being flippant. I wouldn’t blame you for thinking you’d like to change the channel on me. But the remote is across the room, so you’ll have to hear me out.

A new study suggests that kids who watch as much as one hour of TV a day have a significantly increased incidence of overweight and obesity.

“Children watching one to two hours were heavier than those watching less than one hour, and were almost as heavy as those watching greater than two hours daily,” the study’s author, Dr. Mark DeBoer of the University of Virginia, told Newsweek.

Why would this be, especially when playing video games and using the computer did not lead to similar increases. The researchers did not get to that result, but other studies have suggested that the steady barrage of (junk) food ads during children’s programming could account for some of the problem.

My experience suggests that the passivity of TV is a bigger key. It’s pretty tough to play XBox when you have your hand stuffed into a bag of Doritos, and typing while eating Cheetos leaves that orange crud all over the keyboard.

Brother or Parent? (Hebrews 2:13)

And again, “I will put my trust in him.” And again he says, “Here am I, and the children God has given me.” (Hebrews 2:13)

As I write this, I am entering the end-of-semester grading version of the Bataan Death March. Papers have accumulated on my desk and in my email inbox. I run a very real risk of having a pile of term papers topple over and pin me to the floor. A week from now, though, this ordeal will be nearly ended. I will have tamed the paper beast to a reasonable nuisance. By the end of next week, I’ll be dealing with a few whining, stumbling stragglers.

When it all ends, I will have brought 50 people through Composition I, 25 through Composition II, 1 through World Literature, 25 through Drama, 25 through Bible as Literature, and 10 through American Literature. Yes, it’s been a full semester. In a sense, these students are my intellectual or at least academic children. Some of them, like some normal children, don’t much appreciate my efforts at scholastic parentage. Others, happily, do.

Yesterday, I saw a former student–I’m pretty sure he was a former student–at Burger King. I couldn’t put a name to him and he showed no sign of recognizing me. That’s pretty poor parenthood, wouldn’t you say.

Jesus, it seems, is not simply our brother, the firstborn of God’s family, but is a parent as well. Yes, that’s a mixed metaphor, but no metaphor can contain the fullness of God’s being. As such a parent, he brings uncounted sons and daughters to holiness and glory. He will not forget us, nor will he think the labor too much. In fact, the labor–the “paper grading”–has been finished for centuries.