After reading the New York Times piece on sports training for babies and toddlers , I am consumed with fear that it may be too late for our daughter, who is 15 months old.
If a place called The Little Gym is accepting kids as young as four months, and Baby Goes Pro videos are teaching sports like tennis and golf with the help of an animated monkey, what hope is there for Olive? She will get creamed in hopscotch and freeze tag! Why, she only just recently learned the concept of intentionally dropping a ball. (Her latest thing is to drop one in the direction of one of our cats, and then pick it up before the cat has an opportunity to lunge for it. It’s a rather one-sided game of catch.)
Is baby sports training yet another thing we can pin on the scourge of overachieving, flashcard-wielding, child-obsessed parents? Well, no. I’m with Liza when she says, “I don’t think helicopter parenting is quite the public menace people think it is.” Indeed, I think coverage of the whole phenomenon is a whole lotta hype. Taking down hovering moms – and yeah, usually it’s the moms being criticized – is an easy and cool cause to get behind, like lampooning hipsters. If you added them together, the hipsters and the helicopter-ers would constitute .0007 percent of the American population, though, admittedly, they are concentrated in places like New York, and perhaps especially – through some cruel trick of fate – in neighborhoods where Times writers live.
In truth, some of what’s described in the story – like toddler gyms – isn’t all that new or shocking. The soccer academy that takes kids as young as 18 months surprised me but seems like it could be pretty cool, assuming the program is truly “relaxed.” It’s the baby exercise videos that defy reason. The Web site of Baby Goes Pro, for instance, encourages everyone to fight the “obesity epidemic” caused by “inactivity beginning at a young age.” Surely the marketers can see the irony in selling something that requires a little kid to stare at a screen in an effort, ostensibly, to promote movement. If you doubt that the purpose of Baby Goes Pro’s video series is to keep kids entranced and stationary, check out the company’s promotional video , in which one of the women promises that the videos will “give you a little bit of a break as you’re washing the dishes.”