Hip Hop. Acro. Skating. Track and field. Baseball. Swimming. Hebrew school. Acting.
I’m tired just writing this out. Our weeks are busy, our days are even busier. We are at the rink twice, the dance studio twice, the pool, the school, the road. We are somewhere, everywhere. Every day of the week. There are nights that we have dinner in the car, or at 4:30 in the afternoon. There are nights when Emily does homework at the ice rink or Isabella does homework at the studio. It’s chaotic, to say the least. We are what some people might call overscheduled.
Does this kind of schedule look familiar to you?
When I was a kid, I took ballet for years and years and years. You’ve seen this picture before—it’s a fan favorite around here, and not just because it proves that my love of hoodies and tutus and half-grown-out bangs started early in life.
And there were the many years that I took piano in the basement of old Mr. Kahn’s house, and his tendency to shout obscenities at me in a thick German accent frightened me into being a really good piano player. There are no pictures of this because those were years I attempted to forget. kräftig! fröhlich! schnell! I still have nightmares about what Mr. Kahn’s actual role in the second world war was. But, I can play a jaunty tune on the old ivories. No really, I can. It’s like riding a bike. Once you have been taught by a scary German, you never forget. Or something.
But that’s it. Piano. Ballet. I was passionate about neither.
I wish I had learned to swim so I could do something other than, just, well, mostly float in a pool. I wish I had danced past age 12—I wish I hadn’t been so self-conscious about my pre-teen awkward body, and not refused to don a leotard sans underpants. I wish I had run track. I wish I had played softball, baseball, basketball, hockey, soccer, football, something.
But I get it now. Activities are expensive. Activities are time-consuming. Activities are kind of a pain in the heiney for parents. My mom worked full time and had three kids. We played the piano. We took ballet. That was a lot.
I’m curious how parents decide what activities their children will do. Or don’t do. Are the child-led? Are they location-led? Are they parent-led? Are they convenience-led?
Swimming was a no-brainer for us, being a life-saving skill and all. And Hebrew school was a no-brainer for us, being a soul-saving skill and all.
Emily auditions and acts (as you know) and she also dances, because she was dancing in front of our mirrored hallways before she could speak. It was only natural that at age 2, she was pink tutu-ing it with her friends at the local community center. And it’s only natural that now she’s still dancing acro and hip hop twice a week. She’s good and she loves it.
Isabella ice skates, because she was balancing her chubby little body on skates before she could speak. It was only natural that she was toe-picking on the ice at a local community center. And it’s only natural that now she’s on that ice jumping, twisting, and turning twice a week in a pre-competitive program. She’s good and she loves it.
Josh played hockey, because that’s what good Canadian boys do. *Smirk*
Only Josh absolutely hated hockey. He whined every week, he didn’t care about getting better, he didn’t rejoice in wins, or even care when his team lost. He was cold, he was bored, he was annoyed. And yet, because good Canadian boys play hockey, Josh played hockey. For years. But then we moved to Atlanta for a year and guess what good southern kids don’t do? Go on, guess.
And that’s how we found ourselves in little league. And that’s how we found out that Josh loved baseball. My son is a baseball player. He is a great runner, a great ball thrower, a great batter. He gets better and better every single week, every single year. And most of all, HE LOVES IT. He’s made some great friends. He looks forward to going and he is all smiles when he bursts through the door to tell me about singles and doubles and infield home runs. He cares about how he plays, he cares about getting better. He cares about his team.
He is passionate about it.
And this summer he was passionate all the way to an unlikely mosquito league championship win over the stacked first-place team.
All three of my children have them. Each is different, unique, awesome. Just like they are.
Are they overscheduled? Perhaps.
Are they over-happy? Always.
It’s worth it.