Tag Archives: Kids

A game of life: Why teaching your kids to play golf is a good idea

It was my long-term dream to learn to play golf and finally last summer my husband and myself took golf lessons and obtained our green cards to get us onto a golf course. Our kids also participate in the game but so far mostly by bringing back the practice balls when I am pitching in the garden (using kids labor, I know!). However we do intend to teach them the actual game of golf in the near future. Why do I think it is a good idea? The short answer would be a quote on the matter by Bobby Jones:

Golf is the closest game to the game we call life. You get bad breaks from good shots; you get good breaks from bad shots – but you have to play the ball where it lies“.

Golf is by no means a lazy and boring sport of the old fat rich men. Yes, it is still not cheap yet neither is tennis or hockey or skiing. And with respect to gear: there is a huge second-hand market for clubs and bags if you want to minimize costs. I got my first basic set of clubs together with a bag  and a whole bunch of balls for 50 eur.

Playing golf good requires you to be in a decent physical condition, as every golf stroke uses numerous muscles on core, hamstring, shoulder and wrist. It is highly addictive and once you are in you’re in for good. I actually do love everything about golf: from the actual game to an equipment and an outfit of a golfer.

A bit off-top: if you are struggling to find good-fitting pants (which a lot do!), try looking in the golf shop. Golf pants are simply the best pants you can get! They usually have a perfect fit, with a bit of lycra in them, and you don’t really need to go for the insane golfer’s checkers, as the choice of classic colors is also abundant.

However, I am deviating from the answer to why would that particular sport be a good idea to introduce kids to. Mostly not because of the so to-say “physical qualities” of the game, but because of its philosophy, because of the underlying principles of golf.

Golf teaches you a number of life lessons that are also useful to teach to kids:

  • Golf teaches you honesty and integrity. When you are playing you are also the one keeping track of your strokes. It is not really done to cheat in golf.
  • Golf teaches you strategy. It is not just about hitting the ball, it is about hitting the ball while already thinking about your next stroke. If there is, for example, a water hazard in front it might be a good idea to go a bit side-wise first in order to be able to succeed at your next stroke.
  • Golf teaches you humility. Even when you are a PRO, even when you have a great technique and perfect clubs, the game can still go wrong. You learn that sometimes a human effort is really futile and sometimes you are just damn lucky.
  • Golf teaches you endurance. The average game of 18 holes takes about 4-4,5 hours and implies walking for 8-10 kilometers (unless of course you take a golf-cart, you lazy bastard!) And by the way, walking outside, breathing fresh air, enjoying the beautiful greens of a golf course – isn’t that what’s called “healthy lifestyle”?
  • Golf teaches you that your main opponent is yourself. You can of course participate in different competitions, but you can also go solo. And competition or not, it is anyway about your score against objective par (number of strokes allowed to get a golf ball in a hole) that matters the most.
  • Golf teaches you not mere equality but fairness. You can equally play golf with those who are stronger and with those who are weaker players which is not possible in other sports. Thanks to the adjustment that the handicap system provides, your allowed stroke count on each hole is calculated based on your handicap. That means that you as an amateur can play together with a professional golfer and maybe even beat him in the particular match-play (because he is allowed e.g. 3 strokes, but your handicap gives you additional 3 strokes on that hole). So you will not feel yourself a loser!
  • But above all golf teaches you to enjoy. I will add another quote here (but in the context of kids, better park it until their adulthood!): “Golf and sex are about the only things you can enjoy without being good at them“. So true! (giggle)

In other words, this sport is a unique combination of being a way to stay toned and energized and at the same time being a teacher of important life lessons. Hence, thumbs up, golf, you’re on my kids to-do list!

P.S. This year is also special for golf because for the first time since 1904 golf is included in the list of sports for the Summer 2016 Olympic Games – hurrah!

 

 

“She has a knife!” or how to involve a kid in your everyday household chores

“She has a knife!!!” – my friend was shouting with fear in her voice. In the first second my muscles tightened ready to neutralize the obviously imminent threat to everybody’s life. And then I heard a soft voice of my daughter saying “Mom, I want to cut my banana”. My muscles relaxed again. Nothing major – it’s just my 3-year old daughter with a chef’s knife cutting her banana because she likes to eat it piece-by-piece with a fork, instead of just biting it.

No, I am not a total reckless idiot (at least I want to believe that): she knows how to do it, as she’s been doing it for a year already, besides I am next to her anyway. My daughter helps me to cook, she knows how to use a potato peeler, she knows how to use a knife, how to use a kitchen scale (and what do those numbers mean). In that way it was more fun to learn the numbers after all. Also counting down she learned with the help of a kitchen appliance – the microwave. She knows how to make coffee with my coffee maker and with my percolator. And yes, she knows what a percolator is! For those who don’t, it’s a type of special pot for making coffee – I am a coffee addict and I have a lot of that special stuff. She also knows how to sort laundry and is currently successfully teaching that to her 1,9-year old brother, who is simply trembling to pour in the washing liquid and finally push “Start”, shouting “yeeeeeeeah!”. She is closing the buttons of her father’s shirts (those non-iron ones that I am hanging to dry). She helps me fold dry laundry and put everything in the rightful spots. Yes, sometimes I have to refold but it happens less and less nowadays, and we do have some issues with “the rightful spots” from time to time. Also, she wipes the floor with a “Swiffer”; well, now not anymore as this has been delegated to her little brother. They both love to use a vacuum-cleaner and a steam-mop. She knows how to use a screw-driver and scissors… I could probably continue boasting (LOL) but I guess you are more interested in the “how the hell do you achieve that?”

It could be that I just pulled a lucky ticket with both of them, but since I hear the stories of successfully involving kids in household chores from some other mothers as well, I would like to believe that I did something right in my approach.

First and the most important is that my kids are allowed to make mistakes. Like – truly allowed. Actually I cannot stress it hard enough – not being afraid of making mistakes is according to me an extremely important quality that I hope they will be able to keep when they grow up, as that would help them a lot. Practically, what do I mean by it? I will tell you a story. The first time my daughter wanted to use a vacuum-cleaner, I looked around and quickly understood that all these Lego blocks will end up in the bowl of my “Dyson”. Probably that’s also the fate awaiting my necklace that’s lying on the table and probably those chalks and everything else but the actual dust. The easiest solution would be to do it myself and reply to her – “It is not a toy. When you will grow up…”

Yes, I had to take out those Lego blocks and wash them, my necklace survived against all odds and the chalks were partially affected. But also with some guidance miraculously the dust got cleaned. The point is everybody learns by making mistakes and it’s OK, and it is not that difficult to wash Lego blocks after all. If she screws up I am never commenting anything like “why did you do that again?!”, “can’t you do anything right?!” or alike with the same message. She is learning. I must admit that I am also learning, as it is really difficult to restrain yourself not to comment.

Second, almost everything is allowed (within reasonable limits and with certain precautions of course). If my kids want to use a knife they don’t get a Montessori wooden one to “cut” a wooden banana. I find those types of toys a total waste of money. My kids get a real knife. First – a small and less sharp one, then – just any normal knife. Undoubtedly I have to explain and I have to supervise, and probably a finger will be cut at one point in time. Well, I don’t give them a machete! There are also nice tools out there to protect little fingers while they are cutting – check out Opinel Le Petit chef set. And let me repeat once again – you have to explain. When I am at home with kids I am talking a lot: explaining what am I doing, what am I using, why, what for, and so on. And it doesn’t really matter if they don’t understand everything yet, or don’t remember. One day they will. And it’s good for their language development, especially since they are raised bilingual Russian-Dutch with a passive English (that I am speaking with my husband).

Third, is the motivation. Pure human psychology here. If you force somebody to do something you are likely to face a resistance. If you are asking for help, you are likely to get one. So – “little one, can you please help me, I can’t do it myself” works much more efficient than “do-this, do-that”. People in general, but little ones in particular, are willing to help others, they also want to feel themselves useful and significant (“I am such a big girl/boy, I did that myself!”). I personally use that. That allows not only to develop respective motor skills, but also develops their emotional intelligence.

Fourth, another trick that works for me – arouse interest! “Do you want to help me bake a new cake?” (especially if I stress the word “new”), “Do you want to plug-in the blender in the socket yourself?” (and stress on – yourself – as much as you can!), “Can you find all the matching socks?”, “Let’s see who can fold these towels faster! Whoever wins gets a candy!” You can turn a lot of chores into a game or a contest with a bit of creativity. And like with everything it’s not going to just magically work the first time, but one day it will work. Magically!

I can only hope that my kids will keep the same enthusiasm vis-a-vis helping their mother when they grow up, but at least now: 1. they learn a lot using just everyday items; 2. they are involved and they feel involved; and – most important selfish point  – 3. I get help.

P.S. Chocolate brownies that are in the featured image for this post we made together with my daughter yesterday. Some ingredients were of course gone before they reached the cooking bowl, but overall she did pretty well – at least breaking eggs into the mixture she does much better than her mommy…