Why do parents always complain they’re busy? Don’t they realize it’s their own fault? They’re busy, because they chose to be busy. They’re the ones scheduling the life out of their children and themselves just so they can have a well-rounded kid who is exhausted and then they complain about it.
I get that you want to have a well-rounded kid. I do too. I want my kids to try a lot of things and figure out what really interests them. And, let’s face it, there are SO MANY things they could try:
Baseball (many kids we know play on multiple teams – why is that?)
Dance (Ballet, Jazz and/or Tap, Interpretive, Water Ballet, Competitive Jazz Aerobics)
Tae Kwon Do
Art Classes (Painting, sculpture, drawing, pottery, etc.)
Computer Classes (Animation, robotics, programming, etc.)
Instrument lessons (Violin and piano seem to be the dominant ones right now)
Foreign Languages (Spanish, French, Chinese)
Just to name a few. And I know I’m missing a bunch.
As the parent, though, I feel I have to draw the line and make the kids choose just one – MAYBE two – things at a time. Eustace can’t be a violin prodigy, a soccer star, a math whiz and an Eagle Scout – can he? Especially when he’s got two other siblings who want to do that much too? When does it become a bunch of crap you’re just running your kid around to just so you don’t have to entertain them?
I think Mandy made a great list to help decide just how many activities are right for your family. She recognizes that her kids would love to do 10 activities at once, but that just isn’t possible. Instead, she takes a hard look at what her kids are interested in, what her budget can afford and how much time she’s willing to sacrifice for these activities and she goes in without any complaints. That’s all I’m looking for – no complaints.
I actually overhead a mother the other day complaining that school was taking away from her children’s activities. Her direct quote was: “I don’t know how the school expects Elmer to get all his homework done when he’s playing on 3 baseball teams right now. It’s ridiculous how much work they send home for him. What do they do at school all day if he has this much to bring home? We just don’t have time for it all. We’re far too busy!”
Ummm….Isn’t school kind of like a job? Shouldn’t school be the first on the list and then if there’s time they can do the rest? I asked her, “Why is he on 3 teams? Isn’t it more important for Elmer to study so that he can go to college or get a job someday?”
She looked at me like I was speaking Japanese. “Elmer needs to stick with baseball, because that will be his job someday. Elmer is well on his way to being a professional baseball player.”
I did not know this woman, she was a friend of a friend. Our mutual friend gave me the look that said, “Jennn….don’t start with this lady. I would like to keep her as my friend so keep your big opinionated mouth shut.”
I obediently clamped my mouth shut and excused myself from the conversation before I literally slapped this idiotic woman upside her head.
This is not unusual. You go to a party in this town and you hear stupid stuff like:
“We have Eloise in Girl Scouts, Kumon, advanced hairbraiding, piano and she has real potential to be a professional racquetball player. We can barely get her reading done every night. The teacher wants her to read 2 chapters a night on top of all the homework!”
“Oh I know! Nellie’s teacher told us that her math is suffering this year, but honestly, when is she going to need it? She really wants to focus her studies on synchronized swimming or Chinese Calligraphy and you don’t need math for either of those. It’s so hard when she’s so involved in so many activities she loves. Besides the swimming, she is taking ice skating lessons, basketball, and Italian cooking. Her Chinese Calligraphy teacher thinks she has a beautiful technique. We’re thinking of bringing in a Chinese Calligraphy Master for her to study with over the summer if we can find some time between Equestrian Camp, Lego Masters Camp and her private pottery lessons.”
It’s not just the kids’ activities that everyone’s complaining about. I also hear a lot about busy schedules that the moms are keeping these days. Friday night I was at a school event I had a hand in planning and this is what I heard from one of the moms:
“I just don’t know when you found the time to do this, Jen! You work full time, you write and you take care of the kids. How did you get this done?”
“Eh. I had a lot of help. It was a big committee. I’m tired, no doubt, and I’m glad it’s over. I need to start learning how to say ‘No’ more.”
“Oh I know! I’m always being hit up to help with this kind of stuff. They think because I’m home and I don’t work I have time to put in on this kind of stuff, but I really don’t! I’m far too busy! I do morning carpool, so we’re out the door by 7:50. I pick everyone up and drop them off by 8:15. I head to the gym for my 8:30 Hot Yoga class, do that for an hour, cool off with a swim and then meet the girls in the cafe for an organic smoothie. We usually wrap up around 11 so I can hit Target and Whole Foods – can’t get out of either of those places for under fifty bucks, am I right, Jen? I check my voicemail and email about this time and realize I have about 30 messages I need to return, so I pull over and do that. Once I’m done with messages, I grab Seamus’ dry cleaning and head to Michael’s to get all the supplies I’ll need for whatever class project Eugene seems to have due every week – don’t we just live at Michael’s, Jen? Then it’s about time for me to run to the courts for my 1:30 tennis lesson with Alejandro – who, by the way, is ah-may-zing. After an hour of staring at Alejandro’s butt, teeheehee, I mean learning new technique from Alejandro, I head home to shower and get some dinner ready for the kids. After all, we’ve only got about 35 minutes to eat as soon as they walk in the door before the first activity of the evening starts. Most nights Seamus and I are running in different directions with kids. Weekends are even worse with each kid having 2 or 3 games every day.”
I stood there with my fake smile plastered on my face thinking to myself: What is Alejandro so amazing at and when do you update your Pinterest account? Because making time for Pinterest is way more important than shopping, I haven’t been to the grocery store in a week, but my Pinterest account is ah-may-zing.
Listening to her I realized, I don’t care what’s on her schedule, I just wanted her to stop complaining about it and acting like no one is as busy as she is. We’re all busy, we just think each other’s priorities suck. I spend my time being busy with far more important things. I work several hours a day on my real job and then several more hours on my writing, but it’s all from home so I tend to wander off my work and onto Facebook and Pinterest a lot. The Hubs and I haven’t sent anything out to be dry cleaned in 5 years so I can take off my list. I try to do laundry every day, but it’s a real chore and it never gets fully done. I do go to Target a lot. Mostly to return stuff I should not have bought when I was there yesterday. I barely cook. I volunteer a lot for many different things – it’s a good outlet for my bossiness. I watch TV most every day. Our kids are currently taking fencing and gymnastics so I take them to those activities. Most nights I work with my kid on spelling words, reading (he reads to me and I read to both of them), math homework, and whatever the project of the week is. I don’t work out. I should. But I don’t have time (teeheehee). Maybe I could cram more stupid stuff in like she does if I knew her secret.
So I finally had to interrupt her and ask, “What kind of drugs are you on?”
“Drugs. Are you one of those moms who pops the kids’ Ritalin to keep going? Are you guzzling Red Bull, 5 Hour Energy drinks or is it just straight up cocaine?”
“Oh my God, Jen. You are hysterical!” she laughed and walked off.
I don’t think those bitches will ever let me in on the secret.
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Photo: Stuart Miles