I don’t remember doing a whole lot when I was little. I mean, growing up, we four siblings hung out with each other, we hung out with kids in our neighborhood, we went to school. In the summer we had our house in New Hampshire and a whole different world of fun and activity, but that wasn’t until I was well into elementary school.
What did we do? I can’t remember, but I know it was mostly fun and I don’t remember feeling deprived.
Have times changed that much? Do kids today need more than we did in the 70s?
Having four kids of my own, I already feel stressed and somewhat pressured to not only find fun stuff for them to be involved in, but also to make sure that activity time is equal per kid. All four take swimming lessons (equality, check!). One does soccer; another will start tee ball this spring. I feel guilty, and hunt for a dance class for number three. (Number four is still young enough that I don’t feel bad for her lack of involvement. But I feel guilty for confessing that.) A dance class will right the scales.
Seriously. I’m that crazy. I’d really like to see Ellie do something by herself for once. But I can’t bear to add another have-to to our schedule.
I’m already exhausted shuttling to and fro, scheduling and paying, outfitting and encouraging. And, compared to a lot of families, we hardly do anything. Mostly we just hang out at home or in the backyard (playground in nice weather), and enjoy each other, possibly a neighbor or two. A lot like my childhood, I remind myself, and that was just perfect for me.
So, I breathe. Maybe Ellie will have to wait for that ballet class, at least until summer (as Auntie Shelley suggested), when things are less hectic. Then I can focus on her, let her shine a little. It’s not easy being number three of four (as I can attest, but that’s a therapy session for another day). Giving her a chance to shine, having some alone time with her, that’s what’s important, why I’d like her to take ballet. Plus, she loves to dance. I can’t imagine a few months will change that.
Parenting is never equal. Someone is up, another is down, one is getting more, while others are not. The sooner I accept that, the less crazy I will be. Breathe.
Today, following a heavy snowfall, the kids and I reworked the snow fort they built with Daddy over the weekend. We slid down our tiny hill on inflatable swim rings and plastic place mats. We repaired the snowman, and even had a snowball fight. We did it together, and it was all free, unscheduled, and unlimited.
And I’ll bet that it’s what will stay with them until they, like me, are parents, pushing forty. Not soccer or dance, but an impossibly bright blue-skied snow day with their siblings and their mom.
It’s what I will remember.