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Today I watched my little girl walk an alpaca. His name is Captain. Captain is her favorite. He’s my favorite too. I met his owner on Instagram of all places. She thought I was in college; I thought she was a middle-aged woman. Turns out, she is in high school, and I am a middle-aged woman. This random meeting led to a blessing. We call it “llama lessons.”

We take llama lessons every other week. It’s an hour away on the cutest hobby farm. Our “teacher” is Flora, who boards her llamas at the alpaca farm. She wants to teach Montessori, and she loves 4-H. I love Flora, her mom, her llamas, and most of all, I love this experience for my daughter. It’s about as untraditional as any activity one could think of. Pretty unstructured. She’s the only kid.

RELATED: God Bless the Teenagers (and Their Parents!) Who Impact Our Young Kids

While most girls my daughter’s age are doing dance or soccer, she is being kissed by a newborn calf, she is in the chicken coop digging around for eggs, she is putting a harness on an alpaca to walk through the woods, she is quietly sweeping the barn, she is shoveling horse poop, she is feeding grain to the baby goats, she is watching as an alpaca is born.

I cannot stress enough how much I love this experience for her (and me!). There is absolutely nothing wrong with the traditional activities of hockey and softball. Nothing at all . . . if that is your jam. But honestly, it’s never been hers, and even more honestly, it’s not mine.

Here’s the thing I go to my middle son’s lacrosse games, and I cheer my mama heart out. I kind of know the rules of lacrosse, and I bring snacks to every tournament. However, I would be lying if I said I’d rather be in the rat race of these sports than in a peaceful barn setting watching my daughter do what she loves.

RELATED: Playing Youth Sports Is Important But It’s Not Everything

My point is this: if your child loves organized sports, that’s amazing, but if you (like me) have a nagging feeling that these traditional sports might not be the right fit for your child, there are so many other options. We were lucky enough to find something extremely unique and amazing with our llama lessons.

Maybe it’s volunteering at a park, long-distance running, hiking or fishing, reading to animals at a local shelter, rock climbing, music or artwhatever you think would be the best fit. Do a little Google search, word of mouth, calling around, or even a random encounter on Instagram, you can probably find something amazing for your child (and for you).

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Krystal Sieben

Hi, I'm Krystal. Minnesota wife and mom of three great kids, three rescue dogs, and a Fjord horse named Syver. Former middle school teacher turned nonprofit director. A chance meeting with a special horse changed my path, and I now run Three Little Burdes Nonprofit. Our goal is to provide adults and children of all abilities with an introduction to ponies and horses. Check us out! http://www.instagram.com/three_little_burdes

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