My husband returned last night at 9:00 p.m. from coaching elementary novice wrestling all day.  Over eight hundred kids had shown up to wrestle at this particular meet, and, for obvious reasons, everything ran late all day.  He plopped down on the couch, said, “They want to wrestle next week at Tuttle,” and then promptly fell asleep.  I, on the other hand, tossed and turned all night.  Never, in my thirty years of teaching, have I had to make a decision to participate in an event three days before Christmas!  I could not imagine any event being so presumptuous as to assume people would not be headed to Grandma’s by “three days before Christmas.”  To make matters worse, that day is the same day our son would be arriving to “come home for Christmas”!

    I thought about the fact that we watch football games on all of the fall/winter holidays.  Maybe it was okay for sports to run all the way up to the holidays.  But then again, this was novice wrestling.  As the principal, I have to be careful of the precedent allowing students to play sports this close to a major holiday like Christmas will set.  Am I asking too much by scheduling events that require students to stay in town till the last minute? Is it asking too much of novice students to give up every Saturday for three to four months to wrestle with 800+ students?

    Knowing “how much is too much” is one of the hardest concepts to master.  As young mothers, we’re told not to hold our babies too much or we’ll spoil them.  Throughout our children’s lives we are warned of the dangers of too much exposure to everything from media to the sun.  As kids, we’re told that, “if we make that face too much, it’ll stick that way.”  Then every single interest we have, we are told we invest way too much time in it, and we should diversify.

     I wish I could give you a finite measurement…something that tells you when you’re in the sweet spot – not too little and not too much.  Unfortunately, the only teacher for knowing the appropriate amount for anything is experience, and there are always a lot of mistakes made on the way to discovering the right amount.  The best I can do is to remind you of a few signs that something has reached “too much.”  If appreciation is no longer showed, you’ve reached “too much.”  If you don’t (or the child you’re making do the task doesn’t) enjoy it anymore, you’ve reached “too much.”  If no one notices if you’re there or not, that event has reached “too much” and is thereby not worth it. 

    As a thirty-year+ teacher, I would encourage you to create a scarcity of that which you want your kids to appreciate.  I don’t reward my kids for each little task they do.  I expect them to help out with picking up trash on the floor, cleaning table tops off, and putting chairs up at the end of the day.  I do, however, occasionally reward for exceptional cleaning.   These rewards are always an unexpected and a very welcome surprise.  Were I to do it every time, the kids would eventually wear out on the reward and not help at all.

     I’m not sure what we will do regarding the wrestling match.  I’m going to let a little more time pass and see if God reveals a solution that pleases all.  Fortunately, wrestling is an individual sport.  The individual families will get to accept or reject the coach’s invitation to the meet.  And maybe that is the answer:  each family must decide for itself what is “too much.” 

-          Michelle