Jedi skills bid holds no force with mum
AFTER-SCHOOL MAZE TAMED
HERE’S a school letter I never imagined I would be writing: “Dear Music Teacher, sadly my daughter has decided she no longer wishes to take up ukulele this year.”
It’s not that sad, to be honest.
The discarding of ukulele is a near-miss for the family eardrums that also helpfully removes an item from our crammed calendar of extracurricular activities.
As the school year lurches into gear, we’re tackling the insane, 15-piece 3D jigsaw puzzle of fitting our children’s after-hours pursuits into the schedule.
There is — naturally — stacks of parenting debate on how much is too much when it comes to extracurricular activities; whether in this overprogrammed age we’re overloading kids.
(It’s tempting as always to sigh that when we were children our after-school options were a dizzying array of choice between playing with gravel or peeling the dinner vegetables.)
I like the sensible suggestion of limiting a child’s formal extra activities to two a week, to provide ordinary downtime and to build resilience from being allowed to get bored.
But with a bit of sport or music you’ve hit that target before you even start fielding requests for French or dance or filmmaking or coding or Scouts.
As the family’s Director of Extracurricular Activities, I apply a tender-based process to determining who does what and when.
First, all kids are invited submit their ambit claims. The Year 4 listed drama, piano, choir, ukulele, soccer, Brownies. The Year 2 lobbied for gymnastics, swimming, netball, piano, violin, Brownies. The kindy kid wanted swimming, soccer and Jedi training.
Next comes a strict assessment based on convenience.
Is it on a mum work day? Expensive? Outside a 5km radius of the house? Does it need parent participation or multiple days? Is it tuba or drums? Lose points.
Is it done at school, home, or can we pool transport? Will the other siblings be doing it? Will it tire them out? Is it cheap? Gain points.
Then, like in all dodgy tenders, I give an unfair advantage — to swimming, which is essential and goes straight to the top of the pile.
And I have a secret agenda: keeping the weekends free before someone joins cricket, thus sucking up about 23 hours of Saturday.
I announced this term’s results: swimming, gymnastics, Brownies and piano, plus drama at school. I can’t believe it’s got so out of hand.
At least Jedi training was outside the 5km radius.