Ok. I’ll be the first to admit that I was a bit of a grump when it came to all the programs my kids participated in this year. (I should also be the first to admit that I chose those programs. Even Kindergarten isn’t technically mandatory in Alberta. I technically could have kept everyone home from everything all year, so I’m technically to blame. Just technically, though. In theory, I’m perfect.)
The last few weeks have been filled with year-end recitals, year-end parties and year-end losing of the tempers. With all the year-end activities we’ve had to partake in lately, June has made December look like the month of new beginnings. Everything has been in celebration of being over: school is out, soccer is done, swimming is finished, fini, finito. (Until the Fall, of course, but that’s September’s problem.)
I’ve been so busy hustling from one year-end event to another that I’ve barely had the time to consider what we’re left with. After all the programs, practices and participation medals (yay for showing up!) what did we learn? How did we grow? This is important, because if you’re a grump like me, you need a really good reason why you should do something to counter your catalogue full of excuses why not.
I don’t have to look far. The truth is, my husband and I have taken note of the sometimes subtle, sometimes not-so-subtle growth in our girls since we signed away some of their free time in September. With just Kindergarten and preschool alone, our two oldest kids have each had their most formative years to date. It’s been a school year of firsts and friendships. Of falling down and getting back up. And while I’m very proud of their official progress as noted in their report cards, my unofficial standard of success is that they both want to do it all over again in September. (I think that wears off by junior high.)
But it’s not just the institutional learning that lends to growth. Our extra-curriculars have given us a lot as well. For the record, I really did try not to overdo it this year. It’s so tempting to attempt everything (especially when your kids want to attempt everything) but I did my best to take a tempered approach. We never had more than three once-a-week commitments at any given time. This may still seem like a lot, because it is, but it was as minimum as I could get. And it gave us maximum enjoyment. I really believe our kids were buoyed by all of their activities, sports and otherwise. Not only has their coordination improved, but their confidence has shot up as well.
Now, would our kids have grown this much without the daily lessons, evening practices and weekend games? Sure. Maybe. And our wallets wouldn’t be as light. And our time together might not have been so rushed. And there would be fewer kilometers on our vehicle. And I could have avoided some awkward small talk with the other parents. Maybe had a little more time for myself… (I’m just going to walk myself back from this tangent before I sob into my coffee.)
I have a feeling life will only get busier. Our youngest daughter isn’t even enrolled in anything yet (like most little siblings, she learns everything through osmosis) and as the kids continue to grow, so will the demands on our free time.
But I still think it’s worth it. (It has to be, otherwise we’re very, very foolish people.) And as my husband often reminded me as we dragged the bags of soccer balls from one field to another, this is what we signed up for.
*For the record, I do not remember signing up to be equipment manager.