So my daughter’s in the local community theatre’s production of The Music Man. Meanwhile, it’s the end of the school year, final exam season. Then there’s piano lessons, practice, and bassoon, and my son’s piano and trombone, and orthodontist and dentist appointments — and thank God choir, track, and softball are over, because then things would be really crazy. Today’s about as crazy as it gets for me.
As I write this, I’m sitting in a coffee shop with no Internet access while Nora’s at bassoon lessons. When that’s finished, at 5:00 we’ll go get hot dogs for dinner and then it’ll be off to dance rehearsal for The Music Man at 6:00. At 7:00 she’ll call me to get picked up from rehearsal, and she’ll be ready to have a (relatively) stress-free evening at home. At the same time, Greta’s going to (separately) take Jim out for dinner before her 7:30 meeting at church. It all sounds rather complicated, but it’s actually about as complicated as it gets for us; we’ve managed to limit our kids to just a few activities each, most of which only meet once a week. They each participate in just one sport per year, and while the music lessons are perhaps more than average, that’s about it. Even during the month of theatre rehearsals, we’re able to have dinner as a family nearly every evening.
The way I see it, our lives are just busy enough not to be boring.
Nora’s got friends who, on top of being on the middle school softball team, also participated in separate rec-league softball and ran track. In the fall, it will be volleyball and more rec-league softball, followed by basketball in the winter. Daily sports practices, year-round, and these are families with three kids. I don’t know how these moms and dads manage to think, let alone work enough to afford private school tuition.
My kids have 8.5 × 11 calendars to keep track of their schoolwork, and I’ve got a computerized calendar to manage their after school activities. I’ve never used a calendar to manage my own schedule — even when I owned a business with five employees — it’s only when I had kids that I finally had to learn to use one. With a computer to regularly remind me of events, I’m almost able to keep track of them all. Except yesterday, when I missed the kids end-of-year piano party. Fortunately, they had lessons that day, so their teacher was able to remind them.
Despite what I’ve said here, my life really doesn’t revolve around the kids. I have the entire mid-day clear for reading and writing, and I usually spend the evenings with the family and nights with Greta. Our lives aren’t so complicated that we need personal cell phones (we have just one for the whole family, and it sits unused 99 percent of the time). When I was my son’s age, my life might have been a bit less complex than his is, but I still had to do a paper route every day and keep up with homework. I suspect his extracurricular activities take up less time than my paper route did — and he doesn’t have to get up at 5:00 on Sunday morning and deliver 300 pounds of papers.
I think it just might be possible to raise kids in today’s hyperconnected society without making their brains gradually implode from stress. I only hope it will be possible when it’s time for them to raise kids.