When I finally arrive at my daughter’s after school program each evening I hear other parents admonishing their kids to hurry up because they have to get to swimnastics practice. T-ballet? Underwater piano? I honestly can’t keep track of the widely varied activities that her peers seem to be rotating through each season. It exhausts me to even hear them discussing their extracurriculars.
Back when my daughter was my only child and I was a better parent, we did try signing her up for ballet through our local rec center.
It turned out that she didn’t so much want to be instructed on how to dance as much as she wanted to do her own interpretive moves to pop music. Warm-ups didn’t interest her, and neither did the examples of various ballet positions. I was paying money for her to freestyle dance and not listen to someone. I could do that at home for free.
She looks at hobbies as a buffet to be sampled—today she is on another ballet kick, last month it was pottery, and during a short period in between, she wanted to learn violin. I have read that there is something to be said for follow-through, though being no good at it myself I wouldn’t know.
There is one thing I know with absolute certainty: I do not have time to drag her kicking and screaming to classes and then endure the tired tantrums that will ensue when I suggest she still needs to do things (like brush her teeth or read) before her overdue bedtime. So that rules out after-school activities. I could sign her up for some Saturday sports, but let’s be real, the last thing I want to do on a Saturday morning is get up at the crack of 7am to go sit on a soggy soccer field and watch her pick flowers.
Most days I feel ok with my decision to keep my sanity and lazy weekends, but other times I wonder if she is really missing an important part of childhood by not being in skee ball or synchronized bowling, or whatever it is that kids are doing these days. Then I read another article about how kids need more unscheduled time to just be kids and I realized that by virtue of my laziness and constant state of overwhelmed I have accidentally embraced a parenting style.
I think there are real and distinct benefits to team sports and activities and that they serve up a ton of life lessons.
I’m sure that someday she will show enough interest in a particular subject to convince me to sign her up. But for now I trust that she is getting a lot of extra education and movement in her after school program, and will try to remind myself that I’m a better mother when I am not on the sidelines at 8 AM on a Saturday, using up my precious introverted resources to chat with other parents about sportsball.