Driving You to Soccer is Driving Me to Drink
As a private music teacher, I see a lot of things in the world of parenting that make me shake my head. I also see a lot of wonderful parents who manage work, school and the coordination of their numerous children’s extracurricular activities. Sometimes I think the balance is just right. And sometimes I wonder how in the hell they make it all happen.
This past weekend we had some very experienced teachers come into our musical community for a workshop, and over Sunday morning breakfast we talked about over scheduling. Not to bore you with the pedagogical ramifications of that, but I started to wonder why this generation of parents is more eager to drive themselves crazy for after school activities than my parents ever would have tolerated.
Ok. Let’s be honest. One of the first motivators is guilt. In this time of double incomes, daycare, and less family time, we let our guilt get the best of us and decide to give the little fuckers everything they think they want. We’re afraid to say no, because we don’t want them to miss out on an opportunity that all the other kids have. We feel bad for working so much so we compensate by taking a second job as a chauffeur to and from every single activity our child has ever showed an interest in.
When you are done work for the day, sometimes the thought of coming home and supervising free play is about appealing as beating your head against the kitchen wall as you try to prepare a healthy supper for your clan. So having to shovel some dinner in your mouths, run back to the car and drive everyone to their respective shit is easier somehow. Because once the chauffeuring is done, they are someone else’s problem for that hour. You can tune out, unwind, and play Tetris on your Iphone for a little bit. Ahhh!
I think the intentions are good too, in that we want our kids to have exposure to all sorts of things to see what they will gravitate towards. But, ummm……jack of all trades, master of none? Too much confuses them, and doesn’t allow them to put the time in to really become good at anything in particular. It takes away the lesson of self discipline, work ethic, and seeing results.
But you know what? The idea of having my child at an organized, supervised activity is more appealing than free play because of that fear that something bad can happen to her. Maybe its just one too many episodes of Dr, Phil, but I am terrified to let her away from me. Someone will try and steal her. I’m sure of it. She looks like Cindy Lou Who, and would make a pretty penny on the black market for cute babies. So maybe I’ll put her in a bajillion activites just to make it harder on the would-be baby thieves.
I don’t know. We’ve made a statement to ourselves that each child will have a chance to do one sport and one artistic activity. To enhance the things that perhaps the school system is unable to provide at the same level. To nurture something that makes them feel special. That makes them work hard, and that they learn to be excellent at through nothing but their own efforts. To make them confidant, not overwhelmed.
Maybe Cindy Lou will bat her enormous eyes at me and Ill give in to just one more thing. Maybe I’ll be the parent who does nothing but race around from place to place after school, and then desperately try to feed them and bathe them and find time to yell at them to do their homework and go to bed on time.
And if that happens, there’s always rum.