I couldn’t play organized sports until the seventh grade. Seventh grade was middle school in the ’90s. Apparently, the world has now deemed sixth grade the appropriate age for raging hormones, unique smells and awkward changes.
Have I mentioned I’m glad that stage of life is finished?
I begged mom and dad to let me play basketball before middle school. I was in 4-H and that’s it. Mom said I didn’t need to be involved in all that extra stuff.
“You need time to just be a kid,” she and dad would say.
But one year before junior high, I begged, and begged and begged to play ball. My friend, Leslie (Yes, we had the same name. Perhaps that’s why we were friends.) even had her mother write a letter to my mother.
It had words like:
“I can pick Leslie up from practice. And we will take her to games. And she can stay at our home.”
But mom and dad didn’t budge.
It wasn’t the travel that bothered them, although when you live in the country, it is a bit more complicated to get to those games. But that wasn’t it. It was the principal of the situation. I have three older sisters. They couldn’t play early, either. Mom and dad wanted me to embrace being a kid without so many rules and responsibilities.
I get it now.
My girls, ages 6 and 4, have already been in more activities than I had during my first year of junior high. They’re in dance and gymnastics and ice skating. Plus, there are church night activities on Wednesdays, and birthday parties and play dates and school activities.
Yes, it’s exhausting. Yes, I know I’m the one who signed them up.
Last week I found myself in a tricky situation. I accidentally scheduled dentist appointments for my girls during the same time as dance class. I didn’t want to cancel either appointment, so we did both.
Just a quick note in case you’re wondering. Multi-tasking is OK. Women do it all the time. But trying to multi-task a dentist appointment and a dance class at the same time isn’t the smartest idea.
Did I mention I was getting my teeth cleaned at the same time, too?
My husband, Kyle came to help halfway through. I had the scraper to my teeth when Kyle showed up to bring Ella to dance. But Ella and I were in a different room and I had her stuff; a ponytail, coat and dance shoes. Six-year-old ballerinas have a lot of equipment.
I panicked a bit and asked the fantastic woman cleaning my teeth to please help.
Without hesitation, she grabbed the dance gear and raced out to do the handoff to my husband. She was still wearing gloves, a mask and that little headlight thing. When she returned to the room, I realized I hit a new low.
I am trying to do too much. And quite possibly, I am trying to make my kids do too much, too.
It’s different for every family, of course. And I don’t believe there is one right way. Music and dance recitals and ice skating lessons are fantastic opportunities for children to meet new friends and discover new talents. I fully believe that.
But through each activity and social gathering, let’s also be sure to pencil in time for them to just be kids.
This is my subtle reminder as I schedule the holiday season. Think I’ll listen to mom and dad’s tip? Will you?