Monday, September 27, 2004

Not for My Convenience

One thing that has become something of a refrain in the modern era is the issue of kids and their activities keeping families constantly on the go. I'm not sure who new this is; my wife describes times her mom spent the entire day shuttling her, her two sisters and her brother from one thing to another. Things weren't so bad in my family, but then I was an only child, and in my two-horse town, there wasn't a whole lot to do outside of school activites and the Little League.

Early on, my wife and I decided that we were going to restrict Jacob to two activities at any one time (preferably one physical and one cerebral), to prevent precisely that sort of shuttle existence we read about and occasionally saw. For about two years he did gymnastics, which he discovered while at the birthday party of one of his friends (a local gymnastics school allowed members to have birthdays there, pretty good way to drum up business). At the end of the summer, though, he finally tired of that wanted to do karate. I promised to look into it.

But before karate could happen, he expressed an interest in music. And so after some discussion, he began taking drum lessons about 8 weeks ago. He seems to have a reasonable aptitude for it. So we do that one day a week, plus 15 minutes (minimum) practice 4-5 days. And the time has come for me to get him ging on his karate classes. I've even done my due diligence and selected what seems to be the best place around. But karate is not a one day a week thing; its a two day thing. I hadn't known this at the time.

Which means that three days a week we will be trekking somewhere for an activity, not the two my wife and I originally had in mind.

I confess this issue has almost certainly caused me to procrastinate getting him in a class. Oh, I've had my excuses; wait until he had settled back into school, this was a week too busy for me to deal with the karate people, etc. What I'm really dealing with here is a desire to keep my own life simple, not his.

And thus I am reminded of something important. Despite our responsibility as parents to set appropriate limits, our kids need to be allowed to live their lives for themselves, not for our convenience.

1 comment:

Mike Thomas said...

My sister has some or all of her four kids in the following youth programs during the year:
Tumbling, Dance, Karate, Soccer, T-Ball, Girl Scouts, Cub Scouts.
That doesn’t count other school related activities and church activities. Needless to say, she is constantly on the go.

I have to say I think that is a bit excessive. When I was growing up I did Little League baseball and Boy Scouts and that was about it until I got to high school. Obviously today there are more things available. I don’t want to keep my kid from doing the things he wants to do, but I agree that there needs to be limits. It will be interesting to see what catches his interest and what the “in” things are as he gets older. I’ve always thought it would be fun to help coach a Little League team or be a Scoutmaster, but I can’t assume that my son will want to do those things. I’ll just have to wait and see.