Friday, January 27, 2006

They Keep Going, and Going...

Tomorrow Bunny wants me to line up at the crack of dawn to sign her up for Little League. This entails going to the sporting goods store for $100 worth of equipment, then heading over to the church to get her registered and submitting a copy of her birth certificate and a $120 fee. This is in addition to the private Violin Lessons her orchestra teacher at school insists she must begin and Chess Club and her children's Theatre Classes and of course the Girl Scouts and Karate Lessons. How did this happen?

I distinctly recall putting my foot down last September and insisting that she would only be allowed one sport and one fine art extracurricular activity because school comes first and my children would not be put under a lot of unnecessary social pressure. My children would not be little Stepford puppets forced to perform for their mother's social status or their father's unfulfilled dreams of glory. My children would not be bulemic, wrist cutting, paint can huffing, locker room bullying, nervous wrecks because they had no time in their day to relax and just be kids.

And it's not just the girl. Bear is constantly coming and going to Football, Track, Karate, Scouts, etc. The one blessing is that unlike Jr. High, in High School he is not permitted to be on the Football team and be in the Band. Whew.

It's an insidious process. Something nobody ever warned me about. It starts with a "Mum, I'd really like to...", progresses to a "But Mum I've been telling you I want to do this for a very long time now...", and culminates with a "I promise if my grades slip I'll drop x or y or z activity". Well, how can I argue with a logical, non-whining argument like that. They are happy, successful kids. They aren't asking to do anything even remotely unhealthy or objectionable.

Still, I can't help but think back on my childhood and remember long rambles with the dog, exploring the big wide world alone atop my bicycle and hours spent in the driveway shooting basket after basket into the hoop over the garage. I wonder when I see them praticing, drilling, memorizing what happened to children just playing? Not competing or accomplishing, but just playing? What are my children missing?