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Posts Tagged ‘children’

Driving the Driven

sept 10 2008 gymnastics Julia 002

Another year of extracurricular activities officially kicked off with the start of gymnastics.

Next week we add diving, which L has been participating in so long that we’re all as familiar with every nook and cranny of the pool complex as we are with our own house. Jay practically grew up there.

Soon Tee’s basketball starts as well.

Not to bore anyone with the tiresome scheduling details, let’s just say that from 4 till 8:30 every single weeknight, I’ll be driving hither, yither and non. It’s common practice in my parenting circle for families to overschedule in this way, and it’s one of the (many) things I swore I’d never do with my own kids. Yet here we are, rushing around every evening, all hectic and scattered. Partly, it’s to do with having four children. Partly it’s having to do with four children who share none of the same scheduled activities. Really, I envy parents who’ve managed to breed entire families of say, competitive swimmers. One stop shopping would be nice. Dropping them all of in a herd, and going home to a lovely supper before picking them all back up again. Going to one main event with all of the kids competing, instead of sometimes having to miss one child’s event because of a conflicting one. I could, I guess, insist that they limit themselves to one activity each, but I’ve only done that with oldest son once, and only because I really and truly couldn’t manage the driving.

I’ve often said to Miss L that if I’d known when she was 6 and interested in becoming a diver that it would involve such an extreme level of commitment from her, and more distressingly, me, that I would have balked and signed her up for community hip-hop classes instead. I had no interest in any of the kids becoming competitive athletes or of being a “diving mom”. Even now, I would choose free, unstructured time over such regimented activities if it wasn’t for the crystal clear evidence of each child’s huge enjoyment in what they’ve chosen to do.

I have learned a few lessons along the way though. When Jay begged to take gymnastics classes, and I saw the pint-sized bundle of determination that she was, I had visions of her training 25 hours a week at age 7 in an obsessive quest for the Olympics, so I said okay to the classes only if she understood that she was not to enter the competitive stream. It hasn’t dampened her enthusiasm for the sport any, but hopefully she’s doing it purely for fun, not for any dreams of glory.

On the other hand, it’s possible that she just out-thunk me. She asked to take diving “like her big sister” this year, possibly because she rightly guessed that I couldn’t allow one child to compete in a particular sport without allowing it for another child. I’m guessing that a competitive drive finds an outlet.

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A beautiful Sunday morning sleep in. I was poked in the ribs at 7am by the littlest princess, who said she was hungry and could I make breakfast, but I only half awoke, just enough to tell her to make her own toast, and then fell right back asleep.

When I finally stumbled down the stairs at 9, I came across the whole gang, sleepover guests and all, huddled in front of our ancient 17 inch Dell computer monitor, watching an episode of The Simpsons.

Which reminded my of my sanctimonious little post about our TV-free household. When the kids were small, and I was the dictator of this queendom, the only things they watched were carefully screened, non-offensive movies, usually of the educational variety. Now, ages 7, 9, 12 and 14, they watch downloaded copies of Futurama, The Simpsons, and Doctor Who.

I’ve kept the evil forces of pop culture at bay for as long as I could, but some of it is starting to seep in, thanks to having kids that just keep getting older. I realized that it was more important for my oldest son to to have friends than it was for this house to be completely off limits to commercial programming, It’s too bad that the younger ones are being exposed to it at their age, but at least I sheltered their toddler brains.

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