Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Extentuating Extra Curricular Circumstances

For a time, I was steadfast about creating individual activities for individual children. It was a point of pride in my brain that one played soccer, another basketball, and still a third did Cubscouts.  After a season of ping pong driving from one soccer field to a different school for round ball to yet another gym for what was supposed to be a parent/child activity within a 90 minute time span, that vanity was burned away neatly.  I could live with lower expectations, at the very least, of me.

I also used to force extra-curricular activities. Demanding that the kids participate became the recreational equivalent of "Eat your veggies." But somewhere in between the fifth and eighth child, when no week day went without an extra oh, so and so has....fill in the blank, the emotional will to attempt to create uber offspring who were doing everything became much less interesting.  Any guilt at not signing up for something was quickly and quietly stomped into the ground with the mantra, "I don't have to drive."

Still, this is Montgomery County.  Every activity is Google + recommended and has a pedigree/litany spread sheet that reveals how this swimming/gymnastics/piano/soccer/art/underwater construction/Japanese immersion/fusion cuisine/hair coloring master mechanics class is better and has produced more gold medalists and Rhodes Scholars than any other schlub who hangs up a sign and offers to teach your child a skill for money.   So I couldn't go cold turkey on the after school bonus stuff even if I did need to rethink the details of all of it.

At this point, we decided after school activities work best if multiple children are doing the same thing at the same time at the same place.   I further decreed to allow/require that any and all activities after school meet two important criteria: 1) they did not require me and 2) did not require a car ride.

Band happened at school.  It happened during school.  It also happened after school, but right after, therefore it did  not require an extra trip. Ergo, everyone got band.  Further, as long as this state continues, everyone will get band even if they hate the instrument assigned and can't play a note.  For those who enjoy it, "We are so happy to support you and your interests."  For those who think otherwise, "We're building character. Now start practicing." 

As a benevolent dictator, I have their best interests at heart. When they get ready to apply to high school, they can put down if nothing else, band and they can put down that they did it for four years.  For the record, I'm totally fine if they want to rebel and become individuals with their own pursuits once they become licenced drivers. 

Still, even with the one stop extra-curricular shopping, kids activities threaten to kudzu my life and schedule.  It starts innocently enough with one little bright eyed child being offered the opportunity to do scouts.  There is even a carpool available.  The reason for saying no is pure selfishness and so guilt and reason demand naturally I say yes.  Then another asks to play sports and lo, their practice is on the same evening.  Guilt and reason shrug their shoulders. "Hey, it's not anything beyond what you are doing now."  Driving and bringing  a slew with me, one in the mandatory slew spots friends doing a third activity that is the same night. 

Logically, he thinks "Why not?" and asks for the opportunity to participate. I don't have an out and  can see the potential cascade of events that will follow.  Practice will move to a different night, forcing two outings a week.  The second night will also allow a fourth child to take on doing something that is parallel in schedule and at the same place.  The desire to accommodate what seems harmless will be fierce.  External pressure from guilt, reason and the kid in question will lead to surrender. 

Once signed up, the schedule of the new activity will be revealed to be a third night (that one was a once in a lifetime rescheduling for a different night), and I will be doomed to spend two hours of my life trapped in a car four nights a week while hot meals, (even microwaved) hot showers and bedtime before 12 a.m.will become a thing of the past, rumored to at one time exist in our household. I know I should hold firm.

But then my four year old daughter comes to me with those moppet eyes shining, talking about taking dance lessons.  They're on Saturday and won't interfere with the existing schedule.

 (Sigh). If you need me, I'll be in the car. 

1 comment:

Sharon said...

Sounds like you need a chauffure. Darn! I thought I knew how to spell that word. Anyway, you need someone, besides you, is a full-time driver. So glad you you can laugh and share with us.

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