Scheduled Time

I lost one of my two flute students to gymnastics this week.

When I was a middle school band director, I lost more than a few to hockey and dance.

But when I was a kid, this wasn’t a thing. Sure, kids were in soccer and I even took ballet in kindergarten. But this every-night-of-the-week-for-four-hours-a-night-oh-and-four-hours-on-Saturday-too was definitely not a thing. Neither were the moms who got mad because the rest of the world couldn’t accommodate their insane schedule. “What? You mean I can’t get a dentist appointment at 3am on a Sunday because that is the only time my kids are not in dance/gymnastics/swim/horse back riding/AAU badminton??”

*dragging over large soapbox*

*standing on said soapbox*

When I was a kid, we did this thing called “playing” with the neighborhood kids. We even had a game called “Ghost in the Graveyard” for when we were out past dark – shocking, I know. We rode bikes, climbed trees, ran through each other’s houses like packs of wild animals looking for fruit snacks, and then back out through the other door. I “taught school” to some younger children (for as long as they would stand it) on the hill in a neighbor’s yard across the street. We rode bigwheels back and forth down the street. When we got a little older, we walked across a small field (with garter snakes!) to the convenience store to buy candy.

We were not scheduled within an inch of our lives.

I think today’s parents have control issues. IMHO you should not be involved in any activity which eats up 24 hours of your free time per week at the age of 9. It’s wrong, and there will be long term consequences. Don’t you trust your children to any degree? Do they get any say in how they spend their waking hours?

Autistic kids aren’t usually much for team sports, and for this one small blessing, I am thankful. But even if The Boy were not on the spectrum, I would not be raising my child on scheduled time.

*crawling down off soapbox, albeit ungracefully because I only had the one year of ballet*At the Cape

Advertisements

On Being Busy

English: bocce courtA friend posted a link to this opinion piece, “The ‘Busy Trap'” by Tim Krieder of the New York Times.  Go ahead and click it.   Read it and then come back.  I’ll wait…

Did you really read it or are you cheating?  No, it’s a thought-provoking read, and will give you some context for what I’m about to write.  Go ahead.  Just be sure to come back.

I have to say that as I read it, I recognized my old life, to some extent.  When I was a teacher, there were always committees and leadership opportunities, and I rarely said no.  This resulted in sometimes three meetings after an already long workday, and barely any time or energy left for my son.  From the time I was in college, I was a do-er and you would often find me on the board of some group, or chairing some committee, and my planner was my lifeline.  I always had rehearsals and meetings scheduled, often into the wee hours of the morning.

And I also recognized my old students.  The kids who were at the dance studio every day after school until well past a normal dinner time, and when they weren’t taking classes, they were teaching them.  The kids whose hockey schedules ruled their lives instead of school and friends.

And the kids of friends.  Those friends who find it hard to say no.  The friends who made a conscious decision to sign their kids up for competitive activities (big parenting hint: “Competitive” anything will rule your life, and leave no bones).  And who say this “saying no stuff” is easier said than done.

It is.  I was there once.  And I get it.  We want our kids to succeed, we want them to be involved.  We don’t want them to be loners or losers.

My kid isn’t involved in much of anything, which is actually a blessing of his disorder.  Team sports are not and will never be our thing, thank goodness (I know his dad has always felt otherwise, but not me).  He loves to just ride his bike around the small neighborhood we live in.  Or mess around on his computers.  If I had the money, he might take swimming or Tae Kwon Do, but only if he wanted to.

I wasn’t either.  I was a brownie for awhile until our troop leader quit.  And I was in band, but it wasn’t like competitive marching band of today’s standards, with rehearsals 2-3 times a week not ending until 9pm.  I was on parks and rec basketball once.  And softball one other time.  And I took flute lessons once a week.

The rest of the week, I was free to play with my friends in the neighborhood.  Sometimes we played school (can you guess who instigated that?), but often it was tag (remember tag?), and around dusk it was Ghost in the Graveyard.  Guess what?  Our kids don’t even know how to play those games anymore.  Because they don’t have the time.  Between piles of homework from schools trying to jam more curriculum into a 9 month school year, and all of these scheduled activities they are in, no wonder there are so many young people growing up depressed.

We need to make ourselves a priority in our own lives.  If you (and/or your kids) are so busy and stressed that you don’t have any time in your week to just sit and think, there is something seriously wrong.

We need to take a page from our parents, and their parents, and all the generations who came before.  When people age they generally downsize to a smaller house or apartment (less maintenance and upkeep = more time with your family), get rid of the belongings (see George Carlin on “stuff”), and spend their time doing what they wish, or even nothing at all.  They may sign up for a low-impact Zumba class, or head over to the senior center for a round of Bocce Ball with the boys.

But it’s not Competitive Bocce Ball.