Extracurricular Activities: When Is It Time to throw in the Towel?
What is it that makes children Olympians, future Grammy award winners or prime picks for the NFL and NBA drafts? I’d be interested to know what it takes to raise a child who won’t stop practicing. Growing up when I would visit the homes of friends and family I always thought the portraits of little girls in costume tutus and boys on one knee with their heads sticking above monstrous shoulder pads were too cute. I just knew that when I had children I would enroll them in extracurricular activities. However, as with most things involving children, I still had no clue what I was getting myself into. On one hand there is the preparing of costumes, necessary outfits and equipment that one has to search for every season. Then there are practices that take place after a full day of work and require a village to help you get the kiddos there. But I’ve found that this is the easy part. On a another very heavy hand there is the intermittent whining and complaining about wanting and not wanting to participate that I can do without. Who knew that enrolling children in extracurricular activities could alter my mood? After going back and forth with people, thirteen and under, every week for almost three years about the importance of practicing, how long they have to practice, that they need to turn off the TV and kindle to practice and that ‘No, that was not 30 minutes!’ I go from being completely satisfied with life to wondering where did I go wrong. That’s when I want to say –‘Quit, why don’t you, -just- quit!’ I then have visions of me getting to go straight home after work. No stops by the soccer field or sitting for an hour waiting for someone to finish lessons. No more making snacks to throw at the back seat for the children to wolf down before we get to somebody’s practice or lesson. I also have visions of having extra money, perhaps for myself. Instead of paying tutors and coaches I could go back to getting my nails done regularly. Really, I know that I am all talk right now. After all of the years of extracurricular activity frustration I am still dedicated to torture myself from week to week. First, I see the kiddos when they are at their best. I’ve seen them grow and become better at what they are doing. Second, I know that they enjoy what they ironically complain about. It’s the work required to get from novice to master they don’t always seem to be interested in. Third, I don’t want them to come to me years from now and ask: ‘Why did you let me quit. I coulda’….’ (I am sure I will want to shake them if they do.) Until my frustration gives out I guess I will continue to try and motivate my three, who seem to somehow think that mediocre efforts are enough to sell millions of records or become a first round draft pick.