Monday, March 10, 2008

Confessions of an Amateur

I'm a mother of three children and I have a car. This means I should be wracking up enough mileage to circumnavigate the globe (several times over) just taking them to practices and enrichment classes. Instead, I average one practice a week and an occasional weekend soccer tournament with my middle child. My daughter is considering track in the spring and my toddler has managed to figure out how to program our cell phones without the benefit of a bevy of classes which purport to increase his cognitive ability, making him ready to achieve on state assessment tests.

I was sitting in the bleachers at my son's soccer tournament this past weekend eavesdropping on the tales of logistical woe by mothers. They commiserated over not getting home before 8pm as they maneuvered through practices for soccer, basketball, karate, swimming, dance classes, and sessions with baseball trainers (this said with a note of anxiety as Little League season will be starting soon). Combine this with enrichment classes, scout meetings, religious classes, and test prep, I'm surprised these people even know where their houses are. No wonder they drive these behemoth SUV's, they're probably living in them.

I know these parents love their kids and think that by offering them the chance to experience every whim that comes into their little heads they truly believe they are providing the best advantages. Given what I've seen when a child is being dragged from one activity to the next (and I mean dragged) I am left to pause. I watched a boy around 8 or 9, stretched out on the floor of the gym on his back wailing to the heavens as his mother pulled off his shin-guards telling him they did not have time for this because he had basketball practice. It was 7:15pm. The child had been through school, drama rehearsal, soccer practice and was now heading off to basketball. My heart went out to him as he just kept wailing "Why? Why" in between sobbing fits. The embarrassed mother shook her head in annoyance and looked to other parents who offered her a sympathetic "been there" look each knowing this could be them in a fifteen minutes or less.

Like any other parent, I love seeing my kids having fun in an activity they enjoy. I love cheering from the sidelines as much as the next parent. I just can't muster the energy to spread this passion among three to four activities per child. I can't do it. I'll just never join the ranks of the professional side-line parent. I'm strictly an amateur.

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