But for now, let’s get real. I’m on a hamster wheel and I’m not getting off for about another 10 years. As a parent, I have currently signed up to be an unpaid Uber drive to my 8-year-old. And before any of you say it- it’s part of parenting. And you get no extra credit for it. Yeah. Whatever.
Clothing, feeding your kids, and giving them basic shelter is part of being a parent. Making sure they go to school every day, and getting the skills to grow up, become an adult, and hopefully a positive contributing member of society, is part of being a parent.
I’m doing things that are part of being an INVOLVED parent. No, I am not looking for an extra pat on the back. Or a cookie or a medal, or a chest to pin it on. I am just telling you how it is.
So, this is for all those super Moms and Dads out there who can relate.
My son has been involved in extra-curricular activities since he was about 3 years old. Why? Because he is a boy. And what do boys do? They are basically hard wired to be extra active, hyper at times (I use that term loosely- not clinically diagnosed), and bouncing off the walls. At that time, we had a dog. She was a terrier and about 12 years old, which is pretty old for a Terrier. She was not too excited at being his prime playmate or source of attention.
The Extracurriculars Start
So, we enrolled him in Little Dribblers, a sports program for pre-schoolers at the local Y. Basically, they encouraged him to try to dribble a basketball, with some control- and shoot at hoops so low, my dog might have been able to make the shot.
When that was over, we signed him up for some swimming lessons. I wanted him to have basic water skills that didn’t include a bubble bath or a quick run through the sprinkler. It wasn’t training for the summer Olympics, but we did have several proud parenting moments.
It was just one day of extracurricular per week. Life was good.
Kissing the Time Goodbye
Now, fast forward to the life of an average 8-year old. First, it’s the typical crazy morning routine- Is he dressed yet. Did he finish his breakfast yet. Did he get all his homework signed. I swear it’s the same four or five conversations every…single…morning. And then that’s followed by my husband dropping him off at school. My husband goes to work, I go to work. Sometimes I think we go to work to get away.
In the afternoon, when school lets out, as is the case of most families with both parents working, he goes to an afterschool program. The one he attends is a great, locally owned facility, that also offers a martial arts program. I know, everybody does Martial Arts now. But this place is every parents’ dream. They pick them up from school safely, bring them to the center, feed them, and then have them do their homework. After that- it’s one hour of physical activity, where the martial arts comes in.
Our son likes it. He earns his belts and moves up on the levels. He participates in belt graduations, and I get to do my Facebook braggy posts. This sets the bank account back a small bit, but it’s worth every penny. Our only job is to get there to pick him up before closing time, or else the overtime meter starts running.
But that’s not where the action stops. Let’s talk basketball again.
He’s back at the (a different) Y, but now he’s playing in a full court basketball program. The big leagues. Ok, we’re not talking the NCAA’s here, but some of these kids are pretty good. Now my son’s not the next Lebron James either, but he hasn’t gone up against the glass ceiling that is his family genes yet. He’s enjoying it, and playing well.
Anyways, he has practice once a week after work. Which means someone has to pick him up from afterschool, get him home, feed him, and then get him over to the Y. Then, every Saturday, there’s a game. Right…in the middle…of the day.
A normal parent would decide that’s enough activity for a child, and stop there. But you’ve been here long enough to know, I’m anything but normal.
We live in the city, which means there isn’t a whole lot of the great outdoors to be experienced. So, we also have our son in Cub Scouts. They learn how to make things. They learn survival skills. They get to go camping. They sell popcorn.
For us, this means another weekday meeting, once or twice a month, plus a weekend event or two monthly. Parades, service projects, it’s a lot of time.
Then there’s all the other things, like school concerts, dentist appointments, clothes shopping, class projects, parent-teacher conferences. The list goes on and on.
And that’s just for one child. How do you parents with 2, or 3, or even more, get it all done?!?
One Day You’ll Wake Up…
I’ve never added it all up, but it’s pretty safe to say that all of the activities, and running around, and going to events, and everything else, doesn’t leave a whole lot of time leftover for me. Sure, there’s things I would like to do, and places I would like to go, but I just don’t have the time.
But, I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
I know that one day, I will look back on this time, and all the craziness that our life is, and miss these days. I am enjoying the time I (don’t) have.