Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Range Kids

So after two weekends of beyond challenging work where a few good friends helped me do something that seemed borderline impossible, I've decided that the only way to repay my karmic debt is to take them all out for a round of golf. Which also, well, means that I've got to play, and I haven't done that very much since the eldest daughter, now 11, was born. So it's time to get my butt to the range and shake all of the hideous rust off my equally hideous game...

But, well, the kids want to come with. And who am I to discourage this, really? Let's go the tape on this.

If I take the kids to the range, I

1) Get to teach them something that we could conceivably do together when I'm old, and need something to talk to them about that doesn't really matter all that much

2) Look like a better Dad in the eyes of the Shooter Wife, who has been with them all day and enjoys some peace and quiet, and

3) Impress them with my meager abilities and feel better about my game, since it's not as if they've seen anyone better than me just yet

So get in the car, kids, we're off. Now, if you haven't brought kids to the range with you -- and especially little ones or those who might not actually want to hit a few balls -- here are some tricks to make it worthwhile.

1) Just one bucket. Kids do well with set limits and parameters -- and that's true for the things you want to do as well as the things they want to do. So for me, it's one large bucket, and if I'm not thrilled with how my session has gone at the end of the bucket, that's too bad. You can't change the rules on them mid-stream.

2) Let them bring stuff. My youngest especially is into dolls these days, and that's good for a decent amount of time in the stall. So you go with a plan, and make sure they've got what they usually bring. Simple.

3) Don't go overboard on the coaching. I got my eldest a club and gave her a dozen balls, and only jumped in to correct her when, well, she asked. The point is to not take it too seriously. Hell, that goes for my own "game" as well...

Finally and most importantly... positive reinforcement. So long as mine stay safe and patient for the 30 to 45 minutes that I'm working, the post-game treat is assured... which hopefully won't be the same thing twice. Maybe it's water ice, or Carvel, or a late movie or board game; what it is doesn't really matter, so much as it's a clear quid pro quo. Why? So the next time you want to go to the range, they're jumping in the car... or even suggesting it themselves. And who knows, maybe they'll even get good enough to go play a round someday...

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