How Much Scheduling is Overscheduling?

By Rebeldad Brian Reid

About a month or so ago, I was given an especially good thrashing in the comments for suggesting that overscheduling might not be all bad. A number of astute readers pointed out that "overscheduling" was -- by definition -- a negative. And while I can't argue with the correction of my language, I'm still flummoxed by the question of how much is too much when it comes to extracurricular activities.

All of this is colored, in some ways, by my own upbringing. As an adult, I can skate, swim, ski, golf and read music, tremendously useful skills (golf excepted) that I began acquiring by the time I was six. I don't remember being dragged on daily marches from swimming to gymnastics to hockey to piano lessons, but -- somehow -- all of that happened for me, one way or another.

So, I have a bias toward exposing my kids to new things and giving them a chance to gain confidence and familiarity in a broad array of activities. I'm not trying to ensure that they'll have Harvard-caliber resumes by 16; I just want to give them the chance to try new things while they're still young and fearless.

But I also remember having oodles of free time -- riding my bike around my small town, swimming in the river, hiking in the woods, so I'm sympathetic to the just-let-em-play argument, too. I still have clipped this two-year-old piece on "slacker moms," which suggests that just saying no to everything is a courageous and noble way to go.

There has got to be a balance, but darned if I have it figured out. Switching among activities -- flute practice this season, soccer next, tumbling after that -- isn't really condusive to getting comfortable in any one area. Stacking obligation onto obligation is no good. We are now at the age when my eldest can make some of the decisions and weed out the activities that she's not into, but that only helps a bit (and asking a grade-schooler to self-regulate isn't a real solution anyway).

So how do you all deal? Are you content to be slacker parents or have you all just bought really big family calendars?

Brian Reid writes about parenting and work-family balance. You can read his blog at rebeldad.com.

By Brian Reid |  May 10, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Raising Great Kids
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First!

Posted by: John L | May 10, 2007 7:28 AM

Allow the child to choose from a limited selection of interests.

Have time to lay in the grass and watch the clouds pass by.

The word "no" works well here.
Yes, you can join scouts. No, you can't climb K2.

In an age-appropriate manner, help the child realize the committment that each activity takes, and where this fits in to your values.

If schoolwork comes first (as it did for us), then activities have to fit around it.

Posted by: Bryn Mawr | May 10, 2007 7:33 AM

It's "conducive," not "condusive." Where's your copy editor? Or can't you run spell-checker before submitting your column?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 7:41 AM

I'd also like to hear about how people make financial decisions regarding kid's extracurriculars.

We have three children and each takes music lessons, participates in a sport and gets tutored in math -- and goes to summer camp. And I do feel like most of the time I'm acting out of fear (so very scared that somehow my kids are going to be left behind by all the kids who started with math tutoring when they were three and could do long division before they entered kindergarten, etc. etc. etc.)

Lately, my husband I have had some long, hard talks about this whole philosophy -- that extra lessons and tutoring and so forth will somehow provide "insurance" against your kids ending up uneducated, unemployed, etc. I guess the question is -- does it? And even if it does, is it worth it? (For the record, I grew up in a very small town in New England and did OK educationally without a ton of extracurriculars, mostly because they weren't available anyway where we lived. But life has apparently changed a great deal . . )

As I said to my husband the other night, "I could easily spend ALL of our money making our kids faster, smarter, and so forth, but when's enough enough?"
(Here's an example: I didn't even know you COULD take private swimming lessons -- until I realized that my kids were the only ones on the swim team who hadn't had them.)

Posted by: Armchair Mom | May 10, 2007 7:43 AM

What do you do if the parents have different approaches? I'm the "slacker mom" but hubby is the "go-getter." Our son is only 3, but I can see how this might play out later. Any thoughts?

Posted by: Lisa | May 10, 2007 7:44 AM

A Court Librarian Job In D.C.

http://156.119.80.126/vacancies/view/index.cfm?doc=JobVac2007-05-07--17-45-10-201--0.68907324554

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 7:50 AM

"It's "conducive," not "condusive." Where's your copy editor? Or can't you run spell-checker before submitting your column?"

Probably still in bed!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 7:51 AM

I think extra academic tutoring just to keep up with the Jones' or some other hyper math family seems odd. I would not do extra academic tutoring unless my child was falling behind in school and the school felt it would be beneficial. None of us were doing long division in kindergarten and we did fine in college. I personally think a few activities a year is enough. Most kids will not get into Harvard, become olympic athletes, or nobel prize winning academics. The most important thing is to have a few skills that they learn well and build confidence. I don't think that means 6-8 activities a week. I think it would be better if there were more intramural sports teams in middle school. It seems like a lot of MS athletics have been cut out of the budget. Also to a certain degree, let your child be their own guide. Some kids are pretty happy with one extra curricular, some need a few, and others never seem to be engaged enough. Also family finances and time needs to be worked into the system. There is nothing wrong with a parent saying we can afford X or multiple activities. There is also nothin wrong with a parent saying you can't do dance and gymnastics because your brother has hockey during that time.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 10, 2007 7:54 AM

"It's "conducive," not "condusive." Where's your copy editor? Or can't you run spell-checker before submitting your column?"

Probably still in bed!

Posted by: | May 10, 2007 07:51 AM

Still tired from taking all of those "enrichment" activities when he/she was young!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 7:56 AM

In general we have settled on one 'major team' activity and one 'minor individual' activity each season. So oldest [11] plays soccer [two practices and one game per week] and does rock climbing [one practice per week], while the middle [9] plays soccer [two practices and one game per week] and horseback riding [one session per week], while the youngest [6] just does soccer [once per week] -- but has asked about trying basketball.

This has been complicated by swimming [2 practices per week] -- but we probably only make about 75% of the swimming practices [really just to keep their strokes for summer swimming]. In the summer swimming is an every morning with meets on Saturday -- and that is the only major activity.

The oldest two also play instruments [violen, viola] -- but we don't have any private lessons -- just what they get at elementary school.

While that sounds like a lot, if you asked they would indicate that they get plenty of play time with the kids in the neighborhood. It helps that the soccer is 'rec league' and not travel [a pity our neighbors trying to keep that schedule] -- but all in all very manageable.

Bottom line: it's generally your attitude about the activities that drives things -- if you view your life as trying to complete all of these activities you are going to be miserable. If you view the activities as fun things you would like to do, it doesn't seem to be an issue...

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 7:56 AM

Our kids currently each have one activity. I have no objection to their trying different activities, one at a time, or sticking with something they like for as long as they're interested. They will not get tutoring unless they actually need it, and there will be no money out of my checkbook for "educational enrichment", these little extra programs to make kids read/spell/add/blah blah blah -- better.

Almost none of my favorite childhood memories involve my parents hovering, and I'm trying really, really hard to remember that every time I'm tempted to be a helicopter parent in any way.

Also, there is nothing wrong with a little boredom. I absolutely remember being bored sometimes as a kid and ultimately I'd have to figure out something to do, mostly without an adult's help. It was a great lesson in self-reliance, and one I hope to teach my kids as they grow.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 10, 2007 7:59 AM

Maybe actually listen to your kid when he says he does not like clarinet or your daughter when she says she does not like playing the harp? Maybe actually dropping some activities on what they feel; not what you think they need to get ahead? I am with foamgnome with this.

I certainly did not do all of these activities when I was young (still 54 yrs ago) and yet I managed to survive and be a pretty much satisfied adult. (and even have a decent job!)

Posted by: Fred | May 10, 2007 8:02 AM

"It's "conducive," not "condusive." Where's your copy editor? Or can't you run spell-checker before submitting your column?"

Probably still in bed!"

Or teleworking from home!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 8:02 AM

I think the difference now is organized activities versus just messing around. You don't need to be on a soccer team to learn how to play soccer. YOu just need a ball and some pals, same for almost every sport or activity. So much of what kids do today, kids did yesterday it was simply without parental involvement.

I also agree with WorkingMomX that boredom is good - usually after my kids say that they are bored and I make them go back outside is when the magic happens and they come up with something really terrific and creative!

Posted by: moxiemom | May 10, 2007 8:04 AM

Here's an example: I didn't even know you COULD take private swimming lessons -- until I realized that my kids were the only ones on the swim team who hadn't had them.)

Posted by: Armchair Mom | May 10, 2007 07:43 AM

But if they don't need them, don't worry about it. Don't let those heliocopter parents dictate what you want to do with your kids. I already know my kid is probably not destined to be dancing with ABT or writing the next best novel. That is OK. She will be a happy healthy productive adult (like the rest of us). Now she may end up on extreme sports. I can definitely see that happening. But it won't be because I signed her up for rock climbing at 3. It is because she can already climb onto the roof of the garage at age 3!

Posted by: foamgnome | May 10, 2007 8:04 AM

moxiemom

"I also agree with WorkingMomX that boredom is good "

You should know!!

Considering the amount of time you spend on this blog, you must be bored aplenty during the day!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 8:07 AM

Well, actually one of them really NEEDED math tutoring and it was suggested by the school -- so I figured I'd just enroll them all so she wouldn't feel stigmatized (my sister always felt like 'the dumb one'). Weird, I know.

Actually, my husband has recently began instructing me not to talk to the other mothers in the waiting room at Kumon. He keeps telling me "everybody else is nice and mellow but some of those parents are just disturbing and scary. They mess with your head." There's no way anyone can ever feel good about themselves and their decisions after spending time with the Kumon Moms.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | May 10, 2007 8:08 AM


foamgnome

"I already know my kid is probably not destined to be dancing with ABT or writing the next best novel. "

What is ABT?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 8:09 AM

"Considering the amount of time you spend on this blog, you must be bored aplenty during the day!"
Posted by: | May 10, 2007 08:07 AM

Awesome, nasty right out of the gate - your spouse, children, co-workers must so enjoy spending the day with you! I know its hard when you aren't insightful and funny and others are, but please don't lash out at others because of it.

Posted by: moxiemom | May 10, 2007 8:11 AM

Well, actually one of them really NEEDED math tutoring and it was suggested by the school -- so I figured I'd just enroll them all so she wouldn't feel stigmatized (my sister always felt like 'the dumb one'). Weird, I know.

Actually, my husband has recently began instructing me not to talk to the other mothers in the waiting room at Kumon. He keeps telling me "everybody else is nice and mellow but some of those parents are just disturbing and scary. They mess with your head." There's no way anyone can ever feel good about themselves and their decisions after spending time with the Kumon Moms.

Posted by: Armchair Mom | May 10, 2007 08:08 AM

OK, my daughter is too little for tutoring (age 3). Besides she is already in special education preschool. But how is the need for extra tutoring handled in PS now with this NCLB rules? Does the PS pay for it? Do they provide extra tutors at the PS and you decide to use the free tutors or go to Kumon? On another side, I heard Kumon was better then Sylvan. I can see later on my daughter needing writing and English help at a place like that.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 10, 2007 8:11 AM

"It's "conducive," not "condusive." Where's your copy editor? Or can't you run spell-checker before submitting your column?"

Probably still in bed!"

Or teleworking from home!!!!

Posted by: | May 10, 2007 08:02 AM

What, no spell-checker on Brian's computer?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 8:12 AM

American Ballet Theater (ABT).

Posted by: foamgnome | May 10, 2007 8:12 AM

That kind of "give our kids private training to get ahead of everyone else" attitude isn't limited to the DC area. My wife has a friend with a son that wants to take music lessons, but the class gives preference to those who've already had private instruction.

And of course, everyone else had the private tutors already, so she felt she needed to do the same for her son as well. She's stressing because the private tutors aren't cheap but she doesn't want him to be denied entry into the class either.

When did this hyper-competitive,
nothing-is-too-good-for-my-child, get ahead of everyone else attitude come from? Even here in Raleigh I know parents who think nothing of enrolling their kids in all sorts of "developmental" classes, often just because they feel since everyone else is doing it they'd better do it too.

Posted by: John L | May 10, 2007 8:13 AM

ABT = American Ballet Theater

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 8:13 AM

Spell-check would have caught condusive. However, it's a mistake to rely too much on spell check programs.
For example, they don't realize that it is incorrect to write the possessive pronoun for, say, "belonging to it" as "it's" (like MOST OF YOU OUT THERE do) because spell-check doesn't realize that possessive pronouns NEVER take an apostrophe (not even out for coffee). It also doesn't recognize that the plural of "mom" is not "mom's" and...
Sorry. I teach this to fourth graders, and I get quite annoyed when I see adults make the same d*#&n mistakes.

As for the actual topic:
I am also able to skate (I learned from my friends in the neighborhood) and to swim (lessons at the Y one summer). I learned to read music by signing up for in-school band. I have other skills, many of which are dormant. I was absolutely not overscheduled. My sons engaged in a wide variety of activities growing up, but not all at once, and only when they seemed interested (or I thought the activity was important, like CCD or tutoring in reading to prevent failure). In fact, I seem to remember this being a topic recently (probably the entry Brian referenced), and I thought we pretty much exhausted it then.

The key is balance, right??

Posted by: educmom | May 10, 2007 8:14 AM

You forgot fencing, a wonderful activity to improve hand-eye coordination, flexibility, stamina, and ability to quote from The Princess Bride.

Posted by: Chris | May 10, 2007 8:17 AM

Luckily, my daughter IS self-regulating. When she was 6 (and I was anxious like other parents and ready to push her into more and more activities) she stoutly put her foot down and said she would only do two extra-curricular activities a week - at that time, it was Brownies and diving lessons.

So by default, our philosophy is "follow the child". Some children thrive on lots and lots of activities - they LIKE doing three or four sports as well as violin lessons and Destination Imagination. Other children, like my daughter, rather try these things out one or two at a time.

As for tutoring, well, my daughter needs tutoring for her spelling in order to be on grade-level. I'm not about provide pre-emptive tutoring so my child can be one, two or even three years ahead of her peers - what's the point?

Growing up, my siblings and I were advanced math students. My parents did NOT provide extra tutoring - it was just the way things were. If your child is begging for more advanced math work, it's probably best to provide it. But tutoring out of fear just sounds a bit weird to me.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 8:18 AM

JohnL: I think it started with things like gymboree and kindermusik. I am not trying to discredit these types of classes. Although I think it is a nice thing to do if your child is not already enrolled in a full time preschool or quality programmed day care. But it won't make your kid into a Juillard candidate or an olympic gymnast. I swear some of the parents bring kids who can't even walk to baby gyms. I took my daughter there for three sessions when she was 18 months old to a little under three. The main reason was it was getting cold and it was good place for her to run around in doors. You know what, she played mainly on the slide. So I paid $175 for each session for my kid to go down an indoor slide. After that we quit because we found other indoor places and she started preschool. But the number of mothers there session after session and fully believing it was necessary. My SIL takes her 18 month old baby to three enrichment activities a week and four activities for her three year old. These are kids who already spent 40 hours a week at a day care and a preschool. I know they are the type that will be running their kid to all these activities later on. The funniest thing is my kid has way more coordination in the gym then her kid. It is just my kids natural strength. Of course her kid can talk in complete sentences.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 10, 2007 8:19 AM

We had our own issue of overbooking with my daughter. She was going to girl scouts, ballet lessons, playing soccer, and taking piano lessons while her schoolwork was giving her an extra load. We told her she had to drop something. She chose to drop the piano. I do hope she'll take up the piano some time in the future, but she hasn't yet.

Posted by: John | May 10, 2007 8:20 AM

Spell-check would have caught condusive. However, it's a mistake to rely too much on spell check programs.

True. But it's a starting point

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 8:21 AM

Raleigh (and Cary) lean a bit "yankee"...;0)

I think the environs of Chapel Hill/Durham/etc. are not quite as, shall we say, "competitive" in the toddler set. That changes with High School though. It's scary how accomplished some of the kids are coming out of these high schools!

Posted by: to John L | May 10, 2007 8:27 AM

It just seems to me that these "child development courses" are more geared to play to the guilt and fear a lot of parents experience about trying to do the best they can for their children, then they are to actually accomplish something for the kids themselves.

No one my age had anything approaching this kind of planned, structured, educational instruction disguised as "play", and ISTM that we've turned out fairly well. I was told I was reading books before I was 2 years old, though, and reading the encyclopedia by 3 years old, so maybe I was just unusual.

Posted by: John L | May 10, 2007 8:28 AM

There are laws dictating when a child is entitled to in-school assistance. Without going into too much detail:

For children without obvious disabilities who are believed to be underperforming, the child in question has to show a significant disparity between academic potential and academic performance. Schools generally use the 'two-grade' guideline, which is that if the child is two grade levels below where he or she should be then he or she is entitled to screening.

The student must be diagnosed with a recognized learning disability as a result of the testing. An IEP (individual education plan) is drawn up which dictates the assistance required, the goals, and the measurement of progress.

If the student is, in fact, entitled to assistance, the school system is obligated under federal law to provide it.

BTW, the diagnosis of solely ADD/ADHD does not mandate an IEP, but a less-restrictive 504.

The trick is being declared entitled to assistance. Often, parents are unhappy to hear that their child must be two grade levels behind to be tested by the shcool, and they will go to a private, for-profit tutoring company or psychologist for their own diagnostic screening.

Posted by: educmom | May 10, 2007 8:32 AM

John L

"I was told I was reading books before I was 2 years old, though, and reading the encyclopedia by 3 years old, so maybe I was just unusual."

It's not unusual in my family. We were all taught to read at age 3 and since my parents didn't go for kid's books, the Bible and the encyclopedia were the only books we read until we started attending school.

We were NEVER permitted to read comic books.

Posted by: Spike | May 10, 2007 8:34 AM

Comic books (at least the ones back when I was a child) are rather good ways to teach kids to read; the pictures were interesting and the text wasn't too complicated. I still recall the Gold Key Star Trek comics that I had (now worth over $500/copy) and read until they fell apart...

Today's comic books for the most part aren't written for children, but for teens, young adults and adults themselves.

Posted by: John L | May 10, 2007 8:38 AM

Yikes! I think we are a "hyper math family." My elementary school-aged son loves math. He loves talking about math ALL the time. So, if we/he chooses to do some sort of extracurricular math thing (like math camp???) this summer is that worse than him playing a sport?

And, I think those Gymboree programs for preschoolers are just as much for the parents who take them as for the kids who are on the expensive indoor slides. It's tough to be home all day in the cold weather without seeing other adults. Thank goodness some of us live in an area where the county provides so many comparable, low- or no-cost activities.

Posted by: mathmom | May 10, 2007 8:38 AM

John L:
A BIT Yankee!?!? I'm sure you know that Cary stands for Concentrated Area of Relocated Yankees!
Myabe it's different now, but we lived in north Raleigh from 1994 to 1998, and it didn't seem nearly as achievement-driven as the Baltimore/DC region. That was prime elementary-school overbooking time, and I didn't FEEL frazzled from running (baseball, football, swimming, tutoring, CCD, golf...we did a lot in 4 years, and I'm probably forgetting something). Maybe because everything was closer together and traffic was nothing compared to this area.

Posted by: educmom | May 10, 2007 8:39 AM

Yikes! I think we are a "hyper math family." My elementary school-aged son loves math. He loves talking about math ALL the time. So, if we/he chooses to do some sort of extracurricular math thing (like math camp???) this summer is that worse than him playing a sport?

And, I think those Gymboree programs for preschoolers are just as much for the parents who take them as for the kids who are on the expensive indoor slides. It's tough to be home all day in the cold weather without seeing other adults. Thank goodness some of us live in an area where the county provides so many comparable, low- or no-cost activities.

Posted by: mathmom | May 10, 2007 08:38 AM
There is nothing wrong with doing extra math if your kid is interested or needs extra math tutoring. It is just a bit hyper because some other parent claims their kid is doing long division in preschool. Or because you think that Kumon will get your kid into MIT one day.

I am sure gymboree and kindermusik caters to the SAHPs but there are a lot of working parents who do that on top of a full day preschool or quality programmed preschool.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 10, 2007 8:41 AM

My daughter has played and loved soccer since she was five and is completely passionate about horseback riding. We consider riding to be quite a privilege and she knows that if she slacks off at school the horses are the first to go.

She is in 4th grade this year (which for those who aren't there yet, is often a very challenging year). Last fall she announced she was dropping soccer because she couldn't do it all. Is was sad at first and I tried to talk her out of it. But then I wised up and realized she was setting her own limits. The result: She has had a fantastic year without the edge of exhaustion homework fights (and there has been a lot of homework!) This weekend she is in her first horse show. Throughout the past months I have found her building a coatrack out of scrap wood in the garage, designing a training obstacle course for the neighborhood dogs, and creating a make believe survival camp in the back yard inspired by the book "Hatchet" and Flight 29 Down.

If she spent all of her time riding around in the back of the car she wouldn't have been able to use her imagination this way. I think in the long run she will be served better in life with these skills. Bonus: most nights we all sit down together and have a real dinner because I have time to cook. We won't be able to get this back later.

Posted by: HappyMom | May 10, 2007 8:44 AM

Not negotiable: swim lessons for safety, and some form of exercise, be it riding bikes, hiking or sports.
My DDs school has music in class, so no need for extracurriculars there unless she shows a gift and interest. We tried dance - not the next Martha Graham so we stopped, and she loves to paint and color, but again, not the next Cassat so no lessons.

Posted by: Olney | May 10, 2007 8:46 AM

Wow! This is a timely topic for me. Just yesterday a friend of mine asked if I might be interested in signing up my daughter for Girls on the Run next year. It's this great running/self-esteem building program for girls in 3-5 grades. The problem is my daughter already plays on a soccer team, takes gymnastics and next year will have religious school on Tuesday and Sunday. I don't consider religious school an extracurricular activity but it does affect scheduling substantially. My daughter is very clear that she wants to continue soccer and gymnastics, which means, to keep everyone sane, I should punt on the Girls to Run. But then we also wanted to do piano lessons; she loves music and piano was something both my husband and I enjoyed a lot as kids. But fitting that in will probably be overload too. Like Brian, as a kid, I learned to be competent at a lot of activities but not in a way that I felt like I was being run ragged.

My son is only 4 and his only activity besides preschool is swimming. And, armchair mom, we just switched him to private lessons because he has a disability and just wasn't progressing in the group lessons. The one-on-one of private is already making a huge difference for him. I agree with foamgnome - don't do it unless your child actually needs it. My daughter learned to swim just fine in group and now that she's older she has swimming lessons everyday at her summer camp so we don't even bother with it during the school year. For me none of this is about making my kid super-competitive or a star athlete. It's about letting them learn and try sports or music.

I think Brian is right though that in order to be able to enjoy a sport or instrument you have to achieve some level of competence at it and that's not possible to do at only 6 weeks stints interchanged with other things. It is very hard to balance and it is not as simple as just telling your kids to choose. My kids are great about choosing and accept it when I say no, we can't fit it in. But, that doesn't mean narrowing down those choices and determining what is too much is simple.

Posted by: PT Fed Mof2 | May 10, 2007 8:48 AM

Our 4 yr old stays indoors alot due to his allergies and asthma so no outdoor activites for now. We tried swimming but his excema went crazy! *sigh*

He has great interest in music (he loves Santana!) so I bought him an acoustic guiter. I play a Santana concert dvd and he has his own jam session at home. I still have to wait until he is a bit older for guitar lessons (so I'm told) so at least he is getting comfortable with finger movements and how to hold the guitar.

I checked into Boy Scouts but he looks to be too young for the program. My only other option is karate/Tai Chi for now. If anyone else has suggestions I would love to hear them!

Posted by: 2xmami | May 10, 2007 8:50 AM

I dew knot under stan watt the big dell is ovre thai pos. I meen, how astute pid can ewe bee? Gut a lift.

Posted by: Chris | May 10, 2007 8:51 AM

CARY= Containment Area for Relocated Yankees

The only reason I go to Cary is to eat at their On the Border restaurant, and once the one at the US 1/I-540 interchange opens up I'll never go back either. Way too many over-competitive people down there, although there's plenty here in Raleigh too.

Posted by: John L | May 10, 2007 8:53 AM

It's so individual, but I agree with "follow the child" combined with "as long as that doesn't make it completely crazy for everyone else."

My son is only 20 mos old but to judge from his behaviour he is a complete extrovert. If we go three days without seeing other babies or children he becomes miserable. Thank god the weather's nice now and we can go to the playground or zoo, but over the winter I scheduled lots of playdates and two classes. When we didn't go or there were breaks he would pathetically follow any child he saw around at the grocery store. :)

In terms of skills, 15 years (3-18) is a lot of time to pick some up! I personally would like to give my son a basis in music, team sports, and individual sports. But other than him having basic swimming and basic skating skills (Canada; it's essential) I'm not really married to how he gets there. I figure I'll do the swimming and skating while he's still young enough to not have developed too many preferences (he's in mom tot swim now) and then he can choose after that, with discussion.

The tutoring is strange to me unless there's a problem. However I do think homework is a problem (not that I have personally experienced it).

There seems to be more of it than there was when I was in school, esp in the younger years. I think that's totally inappropriate. I completely disagree that kids have to do homework in grade one so they'll be ready to do it in grade twelve. (Extend the argument to driving, for example.)

I hope to influence my son's schools around that when we get there, or even choose them on that basis.

Posted by: Shandra | May 10, 2007 8:53 AM

If your schedules impede your ability to have a healthy relationship with your spouse; then you are overbooked.

If your schedule impedes your childrens ability to spend quality family time as a whole; then you are overbooked.

Each person/family can handle different levels of activity. Some more than others; Each family unit has to collectively weigh what is the most beneficial for them.

And remember - it is an ongoing lesson; so don't beat yourself up if you get too busy. If there is an end in sight; you are ok. If not, then a readjustment needs to occur.

Life is journey. Make the best of it.

Posted by: C.W. | May 10, 2007 8:54 AM

BS- ewe our awl abcessed and kneed two light ten up. ;-)

Posted by: Chris | May 10, 2007 8:55 AM

Chris:
Say this out loud:
Eye yam sofa king we tao did.

It's for its isn't a typo -- it's a stupido.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 8:57 AM

Regarding homework: my elementary school did not ALLOW homework until you were in 4th grade. I actually remember being excited to start 4th grade because I'd finally have homework. Did anyone else have this experience?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 10, 2007 9:01 AM

Eye no hat!


The point is that spell checkers only catch spelling mistakes, you need a grammar check, which often makes its own mistakes. Best fix: read it again before publishing. As far as blog posts go, who cares? If I make a mistake, it's not exactly going to cost me a pull-it-sir, is it?

Posted by: Chris | May 10, 2007 9:02 AM

we had some homework in first grade. But it was parent led. Like cut out pictures in a magazine that included the color red and paste it to a page. We had very structured homework by third grade. I remember math and reading assignments. I don't think history and other type of assignments came till around 4 th grade. Individual long term projects like book reports and stuff started in 4 th grade. I grew up in NY.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 10, 2007 9:04 AM

To: PTFedMomof Ask yourself, why do girls need a self-esteem building running club? What does having an organized running club do for self-esteem? The neighborhood kids are often at our house to play. The whole group will grab the dog and "run the loop" of our subdivision which is about a mile. Isn't it more esteem building if they organize this themselves?

Posted by: HappyMom | May 10, 2007 9:06 AM

Homework? Gosh, we had homework in K.

Posted by: Chris | May 10, 2007 9:13 AM

4th Grade Homework: Science Project- building a battery out of lemons. Needed to research atomic structure, etc to explain how electrons flow from copper wire through lemon.

Writing: Write and illustrate your own book. 25 pages of dialog about a girl and her horseback riding lessons. Editing that was so much fun!

Log at least 250 pages of reading each month. Book report (usually something like dress up as your favorite character and perform a scene from the book).

Service Hours: Grade 4 = 4 Hours. She still needs to do this before the end of the year. Yikes!

I don't know how kids are doing it if they don't get home from activities til 7 at night.

Posted by: HappyMom | May 10, 2007 9:24 AM

To WorkingMomX: Our school system (although highly competitive academically) didn't allow homework till 7th grade (the start of junior high), so like you I felt quite grown-up as I neared that point in my school career. Then I started 7th grade ;-)

OK, seriously now: I didn't mind finite homework of relatively brief length which could then be checked for correctness by me or my mother -- like, e.g., math problem sets (remember, I love math!), grammar exercises such as diagramming sentences, spelling-word lists -- because once such a lesson was done, it was done. It was the more open-ended assignments that I disliked, because they tended to expand to fill available time, so it could be difficult for a child to gauge when s/he was done.

The one consolation in junior high was that we were not allowed to have homework assignments over the weekend (other than continuing to work on book reports and projects). In high school, weekend homework was added. I tried to do as much of mine in study hall or on Friday after right after school in order to free up at least part of my weekend for other activities, hanging out with friends or loafing at home.

All throughout my childhood I took two music lessons a week, and practiced on the other five days. I also participated in school music classes and extracurricular music activities as much as reasonably possible, including after school at least one day a week and evenings twice a week in high school, and I was in the orchestra for all our high school musicals. But guess what? Although there was a lot of rrehearsing involved and we learned a lot, this was all considered FUN -- not the sort of grimness I sometimes read described in posts on this board. If it hadn't been fun, most of us would've pursued other interests instead (which I did after 5th grade, e.g., when I discovered that while I'd enjoyed dancing lessons as a little girl, I hated ballet because the toe shoes made my feet bleed and hurt, so when I asked my mother she let me quit).

YMMV.

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 9:25 AM

Chris,
Going home from K and taking a nap isn't homework:-)

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 10, 2007 9:28 AM

4th Grade Homework: Science Project- building a battery out of lemons. Needed to research atomic structure, etc to explain how electrons flow from copper wire through lemon.

Writing: Write and illustrate your own book. 25 pages of dialog about a girl and her horseback riding lessons. Editing that was so much fun!

Log at least 250 pages of reading each month. Book report (usually something like dress up as your favorite character and perform a scene from the book).

Service Hours: Grade 4 = 4 Hours. She still needs to do this before the end of the year. Yikes!

I don't know how kids are doing it if they don't get home from activities til 7 at night.

Posted by: HappyMom | May 10, 2007 09:24 AM

Wow, all I can say is my kid isn't going to make it. I think when I was in fourth grade a book report was maybe 5 pages long with very large print. Shoe box diarama (sp?) depicting one scene or a short 5 minute scene acting it out.

Don't remember any science projects except the old standard with the planets made from styrofoam balls or fruit.

Goodness gracious, if a parent needs to edit the assingment what is the point. The teacher should just let the parents do the project. I hate these parent projects. I don't see what the kid is learning.

The funniest thing is parents have been complaining about all this homework and projects for about 15 years now. But college profs are saying the kids have not mastered even the remedial knowledge needed for college. So how is this helping. Remedial classes in college has seen increased enrollment and yet homework has increased. Any teachers out there that can share the wisdom on this philosophy?

Posted by: foamgnome | May 10, 2007 9:32 AM

I think kids begin to self-limit around Middle school, sometimes earlier.

Kids do grow older and learn to drive themselves. I think it's worth remembering that the days of non-stop activities and car pools won't last forever.

It can be kind of fun living out of your car. Car-time is also good for talking with your kids - either the one you're taking someplace or the ones who wait with you while the others are doing their thing.

It helps if the parents connect with each other while the kids are doing whatever. I used to look forward to certain things because I liked to talk with the parents that were there.

IMO the ideal activity was one close to a Boston Market. Families can not live by frozen pizza alone!

Posted by: RoseG | May 10, 2007 9:32 AM

How many of us had household chores to do at home every morning or afternoon? What were they, and did they make you feel important or did you hate them? What do you think would have been a fairer share of the chores? Do you think that in the long run you benefitted from having chores, or that they took away from your education or social development? What household chores do you assign your children, and at what age?

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 9:34 AM

Chris,

I know something you don't know. I ... am not lefthanded.

Posted by: BLE | May 10, 2007 9:35 AM

"like MOST OF YOU OUT THERE do"
That would be *as* most of you out there do.

Posted by: to educmom | May 10, 2007 9:35 AM

I think it is good to introduce children to a variety of activities, and then stick to the ones that child really loves. I would not push an activity for the sake of filling up the calendar. My son does soccer, and extracurricular science class once a week, and takes swimming lessons. That is quite enough for now. Next year, we might trade in science for piano lessons.

I don't like the idea of spending evenings shuttling kids to this activity or another. I think kids should go home, get a snack, do their homework, play for a while, eat their dinner, spend time with their family, and go to bed. Life is hectic enough without having to to to this or that meeting or lesson on weekend evenings. I refuse to devote more than one night a week to anything like that.


Posted by: Emily | May 10, 2007 9:37 AM

Part of the problem is that activities used to be in the hours after school, not 6 and 7 at night. Since kids are now in "aftercare" they have moved it all to the evening which makes things miserable for everyone. No wonder kids are stressed out and overtired.

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 9:37 AM

I know a mother who got a math tutor for her 5th grade son because he was struggling with math. He was getting C's and D's. But...he was in a GT(Gifted/Talented) class where the curriculum is 2 grades ahead. So, her answer to her 5th grader struggling with 7th grade work was to get a tutor. She wouldn't consider having him moved to honors level (6th grade) or, God forbid, on-grade math class.

Posted by: xyz | May 10, 2007 9:38 AM

To Happy Mom: Good question about Girls on the Run. The goal of the program is to have the girls train and work their way up to running or run/walking a 5K. In addition to exercising together, playing games and running, the coaches lead the girls in a discussion topic each week centered on issues facing young girls. They talk about things like cliques, being excluded, body image, dealing with peer pressure. I've seen a number of things about this program, it's national program with chapters in almost every state and has won a lot of awards, and I've been impressed with what I read.

I agree there's a great benefit to self-organized activities but I live in a high-traffic neighborhood with no sidewalks so there isn't a lot of pick-up play, unfortunately. And, groups of friends and parents can provide the framework for the types of discussions they have in this program. It's certainly not a necessity for my daughter's well-being and it's a time commitment we probably can't make right now.

****

On the homework issue, our elementary schools starts nightly homework in Kindergarten which I HATE. I don't recall having homework until at least third grade. Sigh! Another reason we try to limit activities b/c one extracurricular for just 45 minutes, with travel, plus homework eats up the whole afternoon. By the time we're done, it's dinner, bath and bed.

Posted by: PT Fed Mof2 | May 10, 2007 9:39 AM

So when do these overscheduled kids find time to do their school work? When do they get any sleep? I'm all for the slacker moms. My mother did not drive when we were in school. Dad wouldn't let her get a driver's license. We had to take the school bus to and from school every day. If we missed the bus, we'd have to walk 7 miles to school. We had to be home and at the dinner table every night -- wow, what a concept! We did not do soccer (never heard of it until we got out of school), music lessons (couldn't afford them), karate (never heard of that either), after school athletics, cheerleading, Scouts, or any other nonsense Yuppies get their kids involved in. We turned out pretty well -- no drug problems, arrest records, or illegitimate kids in our family. Apparently these overscheduling parents think a packed calendar will keep their kids out of trouble. Think again, Yuppies.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 9:39 AM

Part of the problem is that activities used to be in the hours after school, not 6 and 7 at night. Since kids are now in "aftercare"

What's the difference whether it's activities or aftercare? They're still not at home with you.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 9:41 AM

"Part of the problem is that activities used to be in the hours after school, not 6 and 7 at night. Since kids are now in "aftercare" they have moved it all to the evening which makes things miserable for everyone. No wonder kids are stressed out and overtired."

Don't blame this on the kids in aftercare. The reason many activities are in the evenings is because the adult coaches, leaders, and advisors work and are not available right after school.

Posted by: to pb&j | May 10, 2007 9:43 AM

I wish they invented a "slacker mom" gene and injected me with it. I am NOT a slacker Mom; I am not a slacker anything (sigh) -- it's just not part of my genetic make up. My husband makes up for that in our family. However, I don't consider myself a supermom either. I think the "slacker mom" featured in the article is fairly reasonable in her approach. I have not been to toddler yoga either. What I do try to do is to gauge when my kids are ready for some new experience and get them involved. Then I judge the level of enthusiasm and make a decision if this activity needs to be repeated. Sometimes the same activity is introduced more than once. My objective is to raise well rounded individuals who are amateur tennis players, swimmers, love and appreciate classical music, well-read, enjoy a pick up soccer or a baseball game in the park, and so on. I am pushing my daughter toward ballet -- she would be grateful later when she has a beautiful posture and grace. And I pushing both of them toward foreign languages. We live in the interdependent world...........

Posted by: fedmom | May 10, 2007 9:44 AM

Did anyone else hear T. Berry Brazelton on NPR this morning? He talked about how important it is that kids have time to play, and also how he used to think that a mom should stay home with the kids for as long as possible, but he's realized that today's women may need to work, either for financial reasons or personal fulfillment. Very interesting.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 10, 2007 9:45 AM

We didn't have grades until later in elementary, that i know - maybe fourth or fifth grade.
I don't know if we had homework, but probably not much - maybe 1/2 an hour til fourth grade.
My sisters thought it was really cool that they could teach me stuff, so i was reading and doing quite a bit of math by the time i entered kindergarten (i must have picked up the math stuff quickly, so they had fun teaching me).
For the person with the kid interested in math - try to make sure he/she has other interests as well. If like me, he/she is probably introverted, so sports, etc, would probably be good.

I do remember as a kid having ice skating lessons and then rushing home for piano. So my mom and I made the decision to quit one and I loved piano so I quit the ice skating. I do regret that decision, because I can't play at all these days and I love to ice skate (though there isn't a rink close to me here. *sigh*).

My 5 YO is in tball and at his afterschool program he was taking spanish and gymnastics which he loved. We will probably sign him up for soccer in the fall and maybe one other activity that's during the week. I'm thinking karate, but if he's doing another sport then maybe music or something like that. Although we ask if he wants guitar or piano lessons and he says no, he knows how to play...

Posted by: atlmom | May 10, 2007 9:47 AM

The recent shift in Daylight Saving Time was due to, in part, the recreational lobiies desire to have more time for outdoor activities in the early spring and late fall.

I like it. The kids need as much sunlight as possible.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 10, 2007 9:47 AM

Homework? Gosh, we had homework in K.

Posted by: Chris | May 10, 2007 09:13 AM

I had homework in utero!

Posted by: Fred | May 10, 2007 9:47 AM

Oh, well in the 1st grade I do recall doing basic addition, some small reading, or handwriting assignments. I didn't like K too much as I had to repeat it because I completed it underage and transferred. Being ahead is not encouraged and the pub lick school system seemed geared to stifle learning and creativity while force feeding you canned PC junk. My mom encouraged a thirst for knowledge and to question authority, question everything, and to seek answers for myself without just settling for what someone told me. Needless to say some teachers enjoyed me and others did not- especially in college.

Anyway, how we picked outside activities? Well, mom would look to see if there was anything going on in the community- whether it was a craft fair, or some kind of class. If I expressed an interest in it and we could afford it, she encouraged it- especially going to the library, feeding the ducks, and picking out books. If you can get a kid interested in books before school turns them off, good.

Posted by: Chris | May 10, 2007 9:48 AM

Yes, WorkingMomX, I also heard T. Berry Brazelton on NPR this morning, and I agree with you on how interesting it is that his views have evolved over decades of professional practice as well as personal experience with his and his wife's own family. I suspect one reason our school district forbade homework till 7th grade so was that we kids would have more time for play, music lessons, weekly trips to the public library and recreational reading, household chores, homelife (including sit-down family meals) and just plain daydreaming.

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 9:50 AM

Fred wrote: "I had homework in utero!"

Describe.

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 9:51 AM

My parents had no idea what homework I had ever. I never remember them 'looking it over.' they got a report card at the end of each quarter, and I knew it was my responsibility to do well.

I find it horrific when I hear parents talking about their kids papers/tests/whatever when the kid is in COLLEGE. i mean it's one thing if they mention it, but it is amazing how involved parents are. How are these kids ever going to be able to make it themselves???

Posted by: atlmom | May 10, 2007 9:52 AM

Fred wrote: "I had homework in utero!"

Describe.

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 09:51 AM

Where do you think my vast storehouse of knowledge which powers the CTOTD came from?

Posted by: Fred | May 10, 2007 9:53 AM

"We turned out pretty well -- no drug problems, arrest records, or illegitimate kids in our family."

By your standards, my family is a colossal failure.

Plenty of shotgun weddings and illegitimate kids in my family dating back to the 1800's (no record of what happened in the old country).

Raging alcoholics in every generation.

Suicide attempts in every generation.

Lots of mental illness.

Posted by: Ninotchka | May 10, 2007 9:54 AM

Fred wrote: "Where do you think my vast storehouse of knowledge which powers the CTOTD came from?"

Guess I'd rather not think about that one.

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 9:55 AM

foamgnome:

Goodness gracious, if a parent needs to edit the assingment what is the point. The teacher should just let the parents do the project. I hate these parent projects. I don't see what the kid is learning.

====

I agree with you completely. I also hate
group projects. Given the outside activities schedules for all members of the group it is nearly impossible to find an open slot of time for the kids to get together to complete the project. Invariably, it ends up being the parents who are stuck trying to arrange the meeting time. During my children's school years it seemed the younger, childless teachers were big fans of assigning these group projects. The teachers who had their own children knew better! My children are in college now. Are teachers still assigning these group projects?

Posted by: justme | May 10, 2007 9:55 AM

To respond to catlady, I had weekend housecleaning chores from a pretty young age, laundry by ~10, helped out with meals in grade school and was making family dinner by middle school. Hated the cleaning, and to this day I'm pretty slovenly. Laundry made me feel important, because it was "my" job when my mom was away on business - to this day my dad is hopeless at it. Loved the cooking, although it began as self-defense against my dad's cooking during mom's business trips. I even took cooking and baking classes at the local jr. college - extracurriculars my parents had to cart me to and from. But they got to eat my "homework" so it was (mostly) all right in the end.

Posted by: BxNY | May 10, 2007 9:56 AM

Lets be honest here, some things require lessons. Your 8-year-old cannot teach himself to read sheet music unless s/he is unbelievable special. Gymnastics either. Some things require scheduling.

I remember hating piano lessons as a kid, thus I only took 6 months. I remember liking Saxophone only a little better -- and I was required to take 3 years of it by the underrated NYC public school system.

Years later, I am exceedingly grateful that I can carry a tune more than respectably, read basic sheet music and appreciate the complexity of the full spectrum of music. And in college, depending on what instrument you could play and when, you could impress the ladies just a bit. :-)

I am in favor of letting the kids teach themselves the basics of running, field sports, swimming, gymnastics etc. to see if they develop an appreciation, an aptitude or simply a desire to go deeper into those things. I am guessing that by the time my son is 10ish, he'll have some strong opinions on what he wants to do.

I think he can pick one (say, pee-wee football) and I can pick one (say, piano) and that will still leave plenty of time for creative, unstructured play with friends.

Is that nuts?

Posted by: Proud Papa | May 10, 2007 9:57 AM

Catlady,
We definitely had chores and they had to be done before we could play or do other things outside the house to make money. We shoveled snow, mowed the lawn and raked leaves for money but dad's had to be done first and we didn't get paid for doing them - part of living in the house.
We also ironed dad's handkerchiefs from the time we could stand on a stool - believe it or not - we thought it was fun!
We also set the table, cleared the table and did the dishes. Whoever washed just washed. They drier (no dishwasher)also had to put away so there was always a fight over who was lucky enough to wash.
We also had to do the usual change our sheets and attempt to keep our room clean. No vacuuming, etc thank goodness.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 10, 2007 10:01 AM

Catlady: Fred is joking about the homework in utero. Lighten up.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 10:02 AM

To Proud Papa, Although I'm not professionally qualified to judge your sanity (LOL!), I must say that your suggestion of one activity chosen by the child and another by the parents sounds like a good balance. I agree with you that unstructured, creative play is tremendously important to social development -- and tends to get neglected in the over-structured, over-scheduled model of childhood.

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 10:03 AM

To 10:02 AM: You seriously thought I was being serious? Sounds like YOU'RE the one who needs to lighten up!

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 10:04 AM

Fred

"I had homework in utero!"

Ha, ha! That's pretty cute!!

How about homework in your mom's fallopian tube or earlier?


Posted by: Ninotchka | May 10, 2007 10:05 AM

Catlady,

When I got home after school I had to feed the livestock, make sure all the cows were there, and go find the ones that weren't. Repairing fences, haymaking operations, gardening and mowing fields also got thrown in there between getting home and dark.

Homework was done after dinner (had to help clean up after that too), and then get ready for bed.

Posted by: John L | May 10, 2007 10:07 AM

DD(8) is in 2nd grade in AA county. They have a 2-sided math sheet, spelling homework and 15 minutes of reading each night. She's in Ballet (75min once a week), piano lessons (1 hour/week) and Brownies (90min/month). DS(6)K doesn't have regular school assignments. He's in Karate (2 nights/week, 1hour each). The rest of the time they play outside until dinner. DS(3) has swimming lessons (2 days/week, 1/2 hour each). DD(1) just goes along for the ride.

I'm the one busting my rear end to ferry them allover creation. Compared to several other parents (with fewer children), this is nothing. Lacrosse, spring soccer, karate, chess club, music lessons...you name it, their kids are doing it. Will all of this make a difference to get into college? It's hard to say...well-rounded is one thing, but psycho-perfectionist, "I-must-be-great-at-everything" is another.

Posted by: 2girls2boys | May 10, 2007 10:08 AM

The school projects weren't group projects. Each kid does their own. Our family has some very strict limits on parental involvement in school work. We provide support, supplies and time management (the biggest hurdle). You can tell which parents are doing the work for the kid. It's probably easier and takes less time to just do it for them and get it over with. But what's the point? They'll never figure out how to manage a project themselves if you do it for them.

Don't even get me started on the Boy Scout pinewood derby. Anybody else build one of those little cars this year?

Posted by: HappyMom | May 10, 2007 10:09 AM

catlady

I was born with a scrub brush in one hand and a broom in the other hand (Sorry, Mom).

I was immediately put to work cleaning the hospital and the school across the street.

It's never to early to learn a good work ethic!!!

But, of course, I could never live up to your high standards! Who could?

Posted by: Jezebel | May 10, 2007 10:10 AM

Oh, and many activities I could walk to so mom wasn't around for all of them (like dance) and I had piano at home, mom was around, but the teacher came to me. We had music in school too-i took flute for six months. I hated it (I am not musical at all)
If kids have group projects, why can't they do them during school? I believe that's what we did.

Posted by: atlmom | May 10, 2007 10:12 AM

HappyMom, You make an excellent point about parents not getting TOO involved in a child's individual school project. But I also think there's nothing wrong with, at least initially, teaching younger kids how to manage a project -- saves them time if they don't have to "reinvent the wheel."

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 10:13 AM

I have to say, I might be in favor of a teeny bit of "overscheduling." Growing up, we had the opportunity to start learning to play an instrument in school in fourth grade. I really wanted to, but was told by my parents that I couldn't because I already had soccer and ballet and girl scouts. As a result, I don't play any instruments and I can't read music and this is still a regret of mine. I know my parents had good intentions and didn't want me to feel burned out, but I think this situation would have worked itself out quickly. As it turned out, that was my last year in girl scouts anyway, and I only did ballet for 1-2 more years. Since music was at school (free), I would not have been burdening my parents either monetarily or time-wise by adding another activity and it would have been a good chance to learn about time management and prioritizing what I wanted to do.

Posted by: Charlottesville | May 10, 2007 10:13 AM

catlady

How many children do you have?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 10:14 AM

Olney: So your daughter won't be Martha Graham or Mary Cassat. If she enjoys dance and art why not continue, just don't set your goals so high. Good grief. But obviously everybody on this blog is raising little Einsteins and the next Bobby Fisher/Stephen Hawking/Carl Sagan/Cal Ripkin/Pavarotti/Golda Mier all rolled into one. Get over yourselves and let the kids have fun instead of pushing them into what you want them to do.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 10:14 AM

Hmm - my son and I were just discussing his activity level last night - this is the first time he has done three things at once, and our schedule is just insane. Up until now, I have always had time to come home and cook dinner every night, either before or after activities twice a week; but this quarter, sometimes there are multiple activities on the same day - I am learning my lesson and this is not going to happen again :) And I can't imagine what it's like for families that have more than one kid - I think I would lose my mind!
I also think pb&j's point is really valid - I did a lot of activities when I was in school, but they started right after school and an "activity bus" afterwards got us all home by 6. Occasionally I had extra night-time practices, such as in the last two weeks before a theatre production, but never to the degree it seems kids can get booked now.
Another aspect that I don't know if anyone else has mentioned is that I like my son to do these activities to meet different kids and make more friends. I like that he meets kids from other parts of town and that those kids don't have a bias towards him based on what they might hear if they went to the same school (that sounds worse than I mean it!) Because there aren't a lot of kids in our neighborhood, he doesn't have the same opportunities to just run around after school and play with other kids.

Posted by: TakomaMom | May 10, 2007 10:16 AM

to jezebel: you're saying that MOXIEMOM, lowering the bar for everyone, has unrealistic expectations???

Posted by: atlmom | May 10, 2007 10:16 AM

Jezebel, I never said (or implied) that my standards were high for chores. Indeed, I think Moxiemom is right: "Setting the bar lower"! How many people want their obituary to read that all they did was dedicate their lives to keeping an impossibly spotless house, instead of balancing housework against other pursuits (e.g., work, family, activities)?

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 10:18 AM

HappyMom,
I did the sexist thing and told my son that pinewood derby cars were his uncles' territory (I guess it wasn't entirely sexist - they are just former cub scouts and I figured they would know what the heck to do) - so we carried the darn thing on the airplane when we went to visit my family at Christmas and he got it done with "the guys" - forced male bonding :)

Posted by: TakomaMom | May 10, 2007 10:21 AM

Foamgnome,

Kumon has been WAY better and vastly less expensive than Sylvan! Even the eldest grudgingly admitted that a 10% increase in the math score, and some A's earned without tears = "Kumon helped" [in adolescent mumble, please!]

A close friend of mine was a special ed teacher for years and she has been really pleased with the results she's seen for my kids, she recommended it to a couple of her friends whose kids were having some struggles and she's still pleased with what she is seeing.

It's not perfect, it's not free, but it really has helped. One kid finished the reading stuff in a year (E-L) and feels more comfortable with writing than before.

I'm not looking for accelerated in anything or everything, but I have to tell you, homework is so much more pleasant when they are not struggling and not getting it because they aren't getting enough practice. Kumon is heavy on practice and over-learning. But if they want to move along more quickly, they can.

Re: scheduling

Rec league for sports is great if you don't have nearby neighbours (we don't) and there aren't any after-school sports offered at the schools yet (us). Music is great for a lot of reasons, but not every instrument is going to be a great fit.

*Jen--just nosey, what did you guys decide to do for the 4 yo? Recorder? Mandolin? Violin (get earplugs!)?

Don't schedule more than ONE parent can accomplish. You just never know.

MdM

Posted by: Maryland Mother | May 10, 2007 10:26 AM

Catlady, my sons mow the lawn and take out the trash, and my daughters do dishes and laundry.

The family chores at our house are exceptionally balanced.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 10, 2007 10:29 AM

catlady

You are very annoying because you are one of the know-it-all types that asks for discussion and then you give your thoughts filtered through the tunnel vision of your unremarkably boring life.

Frankly, I don't give a sh$t how many chores or how much homework you had as a kid.

I have even less interest in what you have to say about raising kids!

Posted by: Jezebel | May 10, 2007 10:30 AM

What's the difference whether it's activities or aftercare? They're still not at home with you.

Posted by: | May 10, 2007 09:41 AM

What's the difference whether they're running around the neighborhood playing with friends. They're still not at home with you.

The only appropriate way to raise a child is to lock them in the house with their maternal unit until they are 18, subject to 6.5 hours of release per day for mandatory schooling, protect them from all harm, and control their every breath.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 10:31 AM

Oh, yeah, I forgot. The kids have chores to do too. Don't forget that kids need them, above and beyond pounding on a keyboard or scrubbing away at their stringed instruments.

One kid is itching for a trumpet. Finally, a brass player in the family! I kind of wish the kid had gone for the "sackbutt" though. Talk about cachet.

Note to parents of boys--there are 3 activities a boy can be good at/talk about to guarantee a date in high school:

1) have or ride horses
2) dance well
3) play an instrument/carry a tune in a bucket

My husband's eyes about fell out of his head when I pointed this out to him. He agreed that yes indeed, those WERE the guys who had the most dates, with the most interesting/hottest girls.

He then went off to grumble quietly.

Posted by: MdMother | May 10, 2007 10:31 AM

It depends on the child. We had one who had little interest in any organized activity, and basically wanted to read, play video games, and hang out in the back yard. We have another who burns her candle at both ends.

What do we need to do? Encourage the first to experience more of life, and become more socially adept. Help the second to learn to make choices and say "no" to things.

But we also have to recognize, in the end, that they are different people, and it's o.k. They don't have to have the same level of involvement in "activities."

Posted by: Older Dad | May 10, 2007 10:31 AM

"The only appropriate way to raise a child is to lock them in the house with their maternal unit until they are 18, subject to 6.5 hours of release per day for mandatory schooling, protect them from all harm, and control their every breath."

hey pb&j -- you forgot to sign your post

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 10:33 AM

I am dubious about the benefit of any of these things to a kid who isn't seriously into it. I don't regret learning to swim as it's a safety thing, but I would be just as happy today if I didn't know how to skate, play basketball, play flute, sing jazz, dance, do gymnastics, paint watercolors, throw pottery or any of the other "skills" I learned as a kid. I haven't taken up any of those things willingly in adulthood.

As a kid I didn't hate any of my lessons--my parents allowed me to discontinue the things I really hated, like piano and Girl Scouts--but I didn't look forward to any of them. I just got through them and looked forward to having my own time when I could write stories or play with my friends. My parents believed they were giving me valuable life skills, but you can lead a horse to water, etc... In hindsight I could have been more vocal about what a chore those lessons were to me. I don't think my parents understood how little I enjoyed them, and they were pretty disappointed when I quit everything as soon as I was out of their house.

I know some kids really love their activities but it sounds like some of you are thinking a lot more about "improving" the child and I'm just really not sure it does as much as you think.

Posted by: worker bee | May 10, 2007 10:35 AM

OK, Jezebel, tell us how exciting YOUR life is!

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 10:36 AM

Good morning everyone!

I have mixed feelings about this. Again, I can only offer my perspective from a child's point of view, since I don't have kids myself. When I was a kid, we had neither the time nor the money for activities and classes, and all my life I desperately wanted to take ballet and martial arts. Now that I'm an adult, I can take MA classes on my own, but my ability will never be the same, and my body will never have the fluidity of motion that it would have had if I'd taken the classes while young. And it's just too late for ballet altogether. I was able to take drama, choir, and speech/debate because they were the free ones, but I had to find my own transportation--not easy considering the rural area we lived in at the time. My mom was the quintessential "slacker mom." The only good to come out of this, as far as I can see, is that we had lots and lots of free time, and I was a bit of an introvert, so I spent all my time reading books that were way too advanced for me. It honed my skills of writing and comprehension, which may be why I'm going into law school, but I do feel like I missed out as a kid.

So, I'm concerned that when I do have children, I'll become Overachiever Mom and enroll my kids in everything I can think of, especially those things I wanted to do as a child and could not, whether or not my children want to do them (see last night's discussion RE: princess parties, self-defense courses and the like). Then again, I may be so involved in trying to fill my own time that I won't be so obsessed with overscheduling my kids.

Luckily, BF has a much more balanced idea of how to manage time. He was raised in an over-achieving home, played sports, did well in school, had tons of friends, but had plenty of free time for playing, and was an all-around well-adjusted kid. So he knows how to do it, while I really have no precedent to tell me how much a kid can really handle. Hopefully I'll listen to my kids and make the proper judgment call to let them drop out when they're truly unhappy, and push them when they're just feeling lazy.

And for those of you who didn't read my message last night, I wanted you to know that my punishment for insulting Disney princesses was an hour of "Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo" stuck in my head.

Posted by: Mona | May 10, 2007 10:40 AM

Fred

"I had homework in utero!"

Ha, ha! That's pretty cute!!

"How about homework in your mom's fallopian tube or earlier?"

Posted by: Ninotchka | May 10, 2007 10:05 AM

Nan, sainted mom was a slacker, she waited until I was firmly implanted!

Posted by: Fred | May 10, 2007 10:40 AM

Well, my computer has already eaten one entry (iMac here I come), so let's see if this works.

I think it's normal to want to give your child the opportunity to find what she loves. And unfortunately, a lot of things you pick up better if you start young (my husband learned to ski at 4, I learned to ski at 23; he is now doomed to a lifetime of crossing fingers hoping I make it out of the trees in one piece).

But I also think it's easy to get caught up in the whole concept of "they have to start early." Maybe that's true for Olympic gymnasts, where 18 is over the hill. But it was reassuring to read a big article in the paper this weekend (or last) about the Ravens' first-round draft choice: the guy didn't like football and never even played as a kid; picked it up in high school at a small school without a powerhouse program; even switched position after struggling his freshman year in college. And now he's a first-round draft pick.

I think you have to balance the desire to let your kid try everything against time, money, family time, other siblings, downtime, and overall sanity levels. For us, we just don't do weeknight activities -- my kids both go to bed @ 7:30, so a 6:00 or 6:30 lesson interferes with dinner, family time, and their sleep. It's just not worth it.

I also just got a nice reminder about what kids think is important. We got my daughter an official rock climbing lesson for her 6th birthday -- had taken her once before, and she was freaking Spiderman up there (muscles + flexibility + 0% body fat = totally kicked our butts). She had been asking a lot if she could go again, so I figured good birthday present. Wrong. She wasn't unhappy, but it just got sort of an "eh" reaction.

We also got her a pair of cheap roller skates from Target -- talk about a different reaction! You would have thought the heavens parted and God himself came down and annointed her Princess for All Time. ALL she has wanted to do since then is roller skate. Now, let me clarify: she has no natural aptitude or ability whatsoever; can barely stand up, much less move. And it's not as if I'd really be dreaming of a career in roller derby for her anyway. :-) But she just love Love LOVES them. And that's the important thing.

Posted by: Laura | May 10, 2007 10:41 AM

MM, your rule of thumb sounds great -- Never schedule more than one parent can accomplish.

Posted by: Proud Papa | May 10, 2007 10:42 AM

The trick to winning the pinewood derby contest is:
1. Carve a flat as posible car to help with the aerodynamics.
2. sand it as smooth as possible. Paint and use several coats of laquer.
3. Carve or drill out small holes in the bottom and stick in split shot (small fishing weights) until the car becomes as close as possible the the maximum allowable weight without going over. You will need an accurate scale.
4. Use a buffer drill head to polish the 4 nails that will serve as the axels.
5. Use graphite, or teflon to lubricate the nails.

The only competition this car will have will be against somebody else's kid who has a father aware of these secrets.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 10, 2007 10:43 AM

Fred

"Nan, sainted mom was a slacker, she waited until I was firmly implanted!"

What a cheap tramp! Too bad your mom didn't have the benefit of all the sage wisdom from catlady!

Posted by: Ninotchka | May 10, 2007 10:44 AM

worker bee wrote: "I am dubious about the benefit of any of these things to a kid who isn't seriously into it. I don't regret learning to swim as it's a safety thing, but I would be just as happy today if I didn't know how to skate, play basketball, play flute, sing jazz, dance, do gymnastics, paint watercolors, throw pottery or any of the other 'skills' I learned as a kid. I haven't taken up any of those things willingly in adulthood."

You might be surprised at how some of these could someday re-interest you. E.g., exposure to music might result in your wanting to attend concerts. The sports skills you acquired might wind up being useful in handing down to a child (your own, or a relative's or neighbor's), or you might decide to take them up again later on. And how many of us have known retired folks who resumed long-abandoned childhood interests like music, art and recreational sports? You can never be certain that NONE of the childhood activities you now scorn won't someday interest you again, or at least some variant of them -- life takes too many unexpected and interesting twists to dismiss them all out of hand now.

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 10:45 AM

"My only other option is karate/Tai Chi for now."

Stay out of karate, unless you find a really amazing school you can't live without. Karate and Tae Kwon Do are good forms of martial arts, but the schools have become ridiculously over-commercialized, to the point where they sometimes don't teach much at all. Tai Chi is usually a good choice. I have a million suggestions if you're interested...but everyone here has heard me ramble on about it ad nauseam, so I'll wait for the question before I start answering. ;-)

Posted by: Mona | May 10, 2007 10:47 AM

I know some kids really love their activities but it sounds like some of you are thinking a lot more about "improving" the child and I'm just really not sure it does as much as you think.

Posted by: worker bee | May 10, 2007 10:35 AM

As an initial comment, we haven't enrolled our children in any activity that they didn't want to do, and I don't foresee that we would (except tutoring, if absolutely necessary). If either of our children had been neutral or opposed to learning an instrument, we might have forced the issue, but if you raise your children in a home in which music and musical instruments are valued by the adults, the initial interest is there.

I am responding, though, to your last point, with a thought not a disagreement. Some of the short-term camps and activities to which our kids have been exposed have taught them what they're NOT interest in. I suspect that, as a teenager and young adult, that self-knowledge is as important as identifying those areas you want to explore further or in which you have a skill.

Between ages 4 - 8, we exposed each of our kids to various sports, arts, and outdoor exploration with 1 - 8 week commitments, and no more than one thing at a time. By the time each child was old enough for academic-year-long sports commitments, beyond the rec stage, and investment in a new rather than pre-owned instrument, each knew himself well enough to make those commitments happily. My 2 cents.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 10:47 AM

What, Leslie not around to bash today, so it's hop on Catlady day? Sheesh.

Posted by: Laura | May 10, 2007 10:47 AM

Fred

"Nan, sainted mom was a slacker, she waited until I was firmly implanted!"

What a cheap tramp! Too bad your mom didn't have the benefit of all the sage wisdom from catlady!


Posted by: Ninotchka | May 10, 2007 10:44 AM


HEY, no need to call ANYONE a cheap tramp!

Posted by: Fred | May 10, 2007 10:47 AM

"User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions."

Yeah, like this is taken seriously...

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 10:48 AM

I think that the intent of the parent is important as previous posters have noted. We have enrolled our children in activities to enrich their lives personally in that playing sports, music or dance makes life more fun. I don't think or intend for my child to get a scholarship I just want them to have fun now and later.

I don't get the Kumon and such. We have a friend who has her son in private all day kindergarten and then he does Kumon twice a week - he's 6 for goodness sake! She thinks she's going to miss a learning window and the house of cards that is his academic career will crumble. I'm all for it if a child is having trouble however.

Posted by: moxiemom | May 10, 2007 10:50 AM

Fred

Sorry, Fred. Humor varies. No offense intended.

Posted by: Ninotchka | May 10, 2007 10:51 AM

Thanks, Laura. What the trolls -- with or without nom-de-blogs -- write is mere typing!

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 10:52 AM

"Dad wouldn't let her get a driver's license."

And this is a good thing?

"We had to take the school bus to and from school every day. If we missed the bus, we'd have to walk 7 miles to school."

Let me guess, it was uphill both ways.

"We had to be home and at the dinner table every night -- wow, what a concept!"

That you obviously think is unique to you.

"We did not do soccer (never heard of it until we got out of school), music lessons (couldn't afford them), karate (never heard of that either), after school athletics, cheerleading, Scouts, or any other nonsense Yuppies get their kids involved in."

So your parents were too poor to provide the extras for you, so you assume everyone that was able to are Yuppies. (maybe if your dad let your mom get a license, she could have got a part time job during school hours). So you went to school, came home and did what?

"We turned out pretty well -- no drug problems, arrest records, or illegitimate kids in our family."

Wow, you set the bar really low, are they all employed?

"Apparently these overscheduling parents think a packed calendar will keep their kids out of trouble. Think again, Yuppies."

Posted by: | May 10, 2007 09:39 AM

You win, your way is obviously better than us "Yuppies"

I don't pack my kids calendar, but its not empty like yours was either. I don't do it thinking it will keep my kids out of trouble, I do it because my kid might enjoy some of these activities. Maybe when they grow up, they will have some things in life they enjoy and won't end up diplaying their envy on blog like you did.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 11:01 AM

Fred

Sorry, Fred. Humor varies. No offense intended.

Posted by: Ninotchka | May 10, 2007 10:51 AM

OK!

Posted by: Fred | May 10, 2007 11:02 AM

Catlady, we weren't required to do much around the house, set the table for dinner help to clean up. My momwanted to raise career daughters and she figgered that we could hire someone to do the housework, I think.

Mona-it really is never too late. If you want to try ballet, then do it. I'm sure you'd love it.

Posted by: atlmom | May 10, 2007 11:02 AM

"You can never be certain that NONE of the childhood activities you now scorn won't someday interest you again, or at least some variant of them -- life takes too many unexpected and interesting twists to dismiss them all out of hand now."

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 10:45 AM

That is quite true and I didn't mean to make it sound like I would never do anything related. I do attend concerts, and I do play sports. But I think I got my love of music from living in a musical household overall, and I think one or two years of flute would have been enough (as opposed to 13). And my physical activity could have been supplied by pickup sports or going to a gym instead of 8 years of skating lessons and 6 years of ballet. If I had loved those things at all, the many years of lessons would have been a great investment, but I didn't love or even like them--that was my objection. I'm just not going to pick up ballet again, ever.

Posted by: worker bee | May 10, 2007 11:03 AM

Well, it was either Sylvan or Kumon or flunk a grade for one kid. I enrolled them all simply to spread the misery around.

But there's a pretty fair chance of that one child being bipolar anyway--so this in addition to the meds, therapy and social/physical activities is a must. Bipolar is one thing, a personality disorder like dear old dad is another!

Like I said, it's not for every child. But it has brought good results for mine.

Trust me, they still have plenty of time to mess with the ants and try to blow off chores.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | May 10, 2007 11:04 AM

It may help to think a bit about what benefit you're looking to give your kids as adults. Very few of us grow up to become professional athletes or performers.

1) It's good to have been exposed to the arts. Having been in chorus, band, or taken music lessons for a year or two can help us appreciate music as adults (and being able to read music can be useful for singing in church or the occasional carolling excursion). "Exposure" doesn't require years and years of intense study (unless, of course, the child finds they really enjoy it). Ditto for the visual arts.

2) Some exposure to common leisure-time physical activities. Unglamorous as it may be, your son is much more likely to join a bowling league at age 30 than they are to be playing professional sports. Hiking, camping, walking etc. are all good, as are team sports (which teach some different things). Again, exposure is more important than mastery.

3) Social development - playing on a team, being part of a club, being part of a performance (having some exposure to being "on stage" is wonderful) are all good. Exposure to different people and situations is more valuable than mastery of any particular skill.

Bottom line, for me, is that you're doing too much if your son or daughter doesn't have time to become well rounded, or is stressed enough that they can't enjoy and benefit from what they are doing. It doesn't matter so much how well they do in something, but that they have the experiences that allow them, as adults, to understand and enjoy music, a sporting event, a trip to an art museum, a theater performance, and to be comfortable around a wide variety of people.

Posted by: Older Dad | May 10, 2007 11:05 AM

"Between ages 4 - 8, we exposed each of our kids to various sports, arts, and outdoor exploration with 1 - 8 week commitments, and no more than one thing at a time. By the time each child was old enough for academic-year-long sports commitments, beyond the rec stage, and investment in a new rather than pre-owned instrument, each knew himself well enough to make those commitments happily. My 2 cents.

Posted by: | May 10, 2007 10:47 AM "

That sounds like a great strategy. Good points.

Posted by: worker bee | May 10, 2007 11:05 AM

atlmom has a good idea, Mona. Check for local classes in beginning adult ballet -- fairly common at least in metropolitan areas, perhaps through a college or arts group (or local dance company seeking to bring in a little extra income from teaching).

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 11:07 AM

I am younger then most posters here (24), but can't believe so many people are worried about keeping their kids from boredom. I remember that I complained to my Mom once that I was bored. She handed me Pledge and a rag and told me to dust the dining room furniture. I always found something to do after that.

Posted by: Can't believe this | May 10, 2007 11:09 AM

Atlmom, you think? I'm tempted. I'm by nature clumsy, but I think I'd enjoy it. I've wanted to dance my whole life, but never got the chance. I'm not usually one to let age limit me--I'll probably be the septuagenarian in your raft on the white water--but ballet just seems kind of out of my league to me.

Then again, it's that self-defeatist thinking that never gets anyone anywhere. Maybe I will give it a shot, and if those silly girls make fun of my age, that's not my problem, now, is it? Thanks for the vote of confidence. I may just try it...

Posted by: Mona | May 10, 2007 11:11 AM

I just want to say thanks for this topic. My son just turned 4 and I just started thinking through what activities I should focus on for him. I've learnt a few things today: 1)Sign him up for private swimming lessons - the group lessons have not been working and I was just going to have him repeat the group class AGAIN but now I know it will be more effective to sign up for one-on-one sessions. 2) Introduce him to short-term activities to see which ones he likes and then focus on them.
Today is one of the most productive blogs -kudos to Brian and all who have shared their strategies!

Posted by: fabworkingmom | May 10, 2007 11:14 AM

To worker bee: I know what you're saying. But...

After my hideous experience with childhood ballet, I swore I'd never take dance again. Guess what I took up in my 30s to get back into shape? Yup, adult ballet classes.

After I completed 5 years of Latin in JHS and HS, then passed my college's entrance exam in the subject, I swore I'd never study another foreign language again. Never-ever-ever. But then I wound up first studying one language informally just for travel, then another one seriously for what's turned out to be professional purposes. No one's more surprised than I am that my life turned out that way, but it's brought me much unanticipated happiness. Perhaps your life will surprise you with something you didn't think you'd enjoy, either :-)

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 11:17 AM

Zelda Fitzgerald and Joanne Woodward took up ballet as adults.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 11:17 AM

Can't believe this -- gee, maybe your mom and mine were twins. My mom's favorite saying was "bored people are boring"; if I complained about being bored, she told me then I could go get dinner started or run the laundy or something similar.

Now it's started with my 6-yr-old. My mom, as always, knew the right answer: "My job is keeping you safe, not keeping you entertained. If you are bored, it's your job to entertain yourself."

My mom has a gift that is just freaking unbelievable. My daughter goes over to visit almost every weekend, and spends the time weeding the garden, cooking dinner, or even polishing the silver (yes, really). And comes home THRILLED to have helped! But when I ask her to help me weed the garden at our house, it's 2 minutes of running around, followed by "I'm bored," and off into the house to see what daddy's doing. Sigh.

Of course, maybe that's the mom/grandma thing -- I seem to remember as a child loving helping my grandparents with chores, but not being QUITE so thrilled to jump right in at home. :-)

Posted by: Laura | May 10, 2007 11:19 AM

Mona --

FYI, sometimes it's fun to try something just because you know you WON'T be good at it. Good way to counteract the perfectionist/competetive tendencies. I did this a while ago -- picked things like pottery and art that I knew I had zero actual talent or training in, because they sounded cool and fun, and because I figured if I knew going in that I sucked, then I wouldn't get all competitive about it. It's kind of forced relaxation. :-)

Posted by: Laura | May 10, 2007 11:24 AM

When we get the phone call, email, or hear the clap of thunder to tell us that practice has been canceled, my wife and I cheer and do a high five.

At one point last year, I counted 18 weekly events that we had to get our kids to; soccer, Tae Kwan Do, Girl Scouts, football, cheerleading, CCD, track...

The way I see it, life is stalled until soccer season is over.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 10, 2007 11:24 AM

Mona-one thing to know is that most ballet teachers are pretty cruel. That is usually how they teach. It is just the way. So you shouldn't take any of it personally. None of this encouraging: that looks great! It would be more like: well, your turnout isn't horrible, but you're arms just aren't in the right place. It is still funa and I want to start again one day. I guess after I can find a tap class that fits into my schedule. *sigh*

Posted by: atlmom | May 10, 2007 11:29 AM

soccer season is over.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 10, 2007 11:24 AM

Soccer season ends? Yours don't play indoor in the winter and do the camps in the summer creating a year round season?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 11:32 AM

When we get the phone call, email, or hear the clap of thunder to tell us that practice has been canceled, my wife and I cheer and do a high five.

At one point last year, I counted 18 weekly events that we had to get our kids to; soccer, Tae Kwan Do, Girl Scouts, football, cheerleading, CCD, track...

The way I see it, life is stalled until soccer season is over.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 10, 2007 11:24 AM

Father of 4 - we have less going on, because we have half as many kids as you. Still, when our son told us this past Tuesday that he doesn't want to re-up for soccer in 2007 - 08, his dad and I (privately) high-fived. He made the decision on his own, and is happy with it. He'll do tennis, but the time demand of a year-long travel team with tournaments, etc. is off our plates.

Posted by: MN | May 10, 2007 11:36 AM

Mona, atlmom is right again re ballet.

Some ballet teachers are cruel, including the one I had at age 10 (a snooty white South African who whacked us on the knee with a stick if our knees were even slightly bent when they weren't supposed to be). Little wonder I wanted to quit!

But as an adult ballet student I would never have put up with such abuse. I chose my teacher based on the recommendation of a friend I trusted who'd already taken ballet with him for several years, and who reassured me that no such abuse occurred in class. So, Mona, maybe you can find people who've already taken adult ballet locally to give you some feedback.

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 11:37 AM

Hi MN, Glad to see you back!

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 11:38 AM

11:01: Yes, we are all gainfully employed and have been since we left public school. We did homework, chores, and worked in the garden and yard. We were never into athletics. My parents said 'We send you to school to learn, not to play games.' We were certainly not bored. The only luxury we had was a set of World Book encyclopedias which helped get us through school and if we coudn't find anything else to read, we'd pick up a volume and read it for fun. Now get out of here with our old snarky self.

Posted by: 9:39 | May 10, 2007 11:39 AM

Maybe when they grow up, they will have some things in life they enjoy and won't end up diplaying their envy on blog like you did.

Posted by: | May 10, 2007 11:01 AM
Be careful at accusing any one of jealousy. Anonymous trolls take particular offense to that one. :)

Posted by: foamgnome | May 10, 2007 11:47 AM

Now get out of here with our old snarky self.

Posted by: 9:39 | May 10, 2007 11:39 AM

I assume you mean "your" old snarky self. I was just returning your snark in kind. If you think you can post what you did, the way you did, and not offend us "Yuppies", think again. It came across as class envy with a touch of disgust, if you didn't intend it that way, maybe you should read it again.

I'm not going anywhere because you say so.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 11:48 AM

hi MD Mom-- I've needed to change my list name to Jen S. since there is now another poster posting as "Jen."

We bought the recorder and he occassionally will pick it up and blow on it, but it is difficult to teach him how to play-- especially since nither my husband nor i play! We have the "scheme" that shows which holes are covered for each note and how to hold it, but it'll take some practice. Meanwhile, the electronic keyboard gets some play. I think we will focus on swimming during summer rather than music lessons for now.

Posted by: Jen/ jen S. | May 10, 2007 11:50 AM

Maybe when they grow up, they will have some things in life they enjoy and won't end up diplaying their envy on blog like you did.

Posted by: | May 10, 2007 11:01 AM
Be careful at accusing any one of jealousy. Anonymous trolls take particular offense to that one. :)

Posted by: foamgnome | May 10, 2007 11:47 AM

and some non-trolls.

11:01's point is a tad more sophisticated than the seventh-grade like, "You're just jealous" lobbed at everyone who disdains one thing or another. . . but those sorts aren't likely to note even the mildest admonition to be careful, as you recommend, either, LOL.

thanks, catlady --

Posted by: MN | May 10, 2007 11:50 AM

MN!
Where you been girl? I've missed you...

remaining two boys:
boy #1 16: tennis every day after school (tennis team), lessons outside of school season, tennis tournaments 1 or 2 times a month, and when school is out: he gets a job hopefully.
boy #2 12: swimming 1 1/2 - 2 hours 4-6 days a week. Lacrosse practice once a week and lacrosse game once a week (season just ended). and yes, some days he does both swimming and lacrosse. Swim meets lasting all weekend are about once a month.

Posted by: dotted | May 10, 2007 11:50 AM

"... I was just returning your snark in kind..."

Now, there is an adult attitude!

Posted by: Fred | May 10, 2007 11:51 AM

"We have a friend who has her son in private all day kindergarten and then he does Kumon twice a week - he's 6 for goodness sake! She thinks she's going to miss a learning window and the house of cards that is his academic career will crumble."

THis post just cracked me up! Just the image of a six year old having an 'academic career'. There were a few of those moms at my kid's last school -- able to discuss their kindergartener's "academic careers" without irony. Remember, you can take your kids to Kumon -- but don't talk to any of the other mothers!

Posted by: Armchair Mom | May 10, 2007 11:53 AM

Looking at my huge family calendar, it would seem my kids are overscheduled.

DS #1 belongs to 3 different Youth Groups, he is in 3 different Bands, takes 2 different music lessons, and he is in Scouts.

DS #2 belongs to 2 different Youth Groups, takes Piano Lessons and is in Scouts.

DS #3 belongs to 1 Youth Group, takes Piano Lessons, plays Lacrosse in Spring (soccer & flag football in fall), is in Scouts, AND goes to afterschool enrichment programs 3x a week through school.

DD takes Piano lessons, takes Ballet class, goes to afterschool enrichment programs 3x a week, is tutored once a week, and belongs to Pioneer Girls.

Tonight for example, I will drop off DS #2 to Piano lessons, then go pick up DD from afterschool program, then drop off DS #3 at lacrosse, then pick DS #2 up from Piano. Come home, get DD changed into her leotard, feed children who are at home dinner, drop DD off at Ballet, go watch the rest of DS #3's lacrosse practice, pick up DD from ballet, and come home.

It's crazy for me (and my husband when he's home), but the kids set the pace, and they love their activities. They also (remarkably) have downtime to just play outside, and yes, even get bored.

Posted by: ShoreMomof4 | May 10, 2007 11:54 AM

"... I was just returning your snark in kind..."

Now, there is an adult attitude!

Posted by: Fred | May 10, 2007 11:51 AM

How do you know I am an adult? (certainly wasn't acting like one there).

I could be one of those kids who has had enrichment tutoring since I was -0.5 yrs old. And am so far ahead of my classmates that the only way for me to get rid of the boredom is to attack posters that find my way of life disgusting. ;)

Or not.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 11:58 AM

For armchair mom and others wondering if all the extras are so important. Thinking back to my own childhood, it seemed that all the extra activities helped to build self esteem. Kids that don't get to do the extracirriculars do feel left out, particularly if their peers get to do a whole list of things which they constantly enjoy mentioning. But freetime is good too. I didn't do very many extras (piano for 2 years, 6 months of gymnastics, and softball for three years, not very impressive by today's standards and I probably would have enjoyed doing more) but the time I spent reading, running around in the woods, riding my bike, and generally goofing off helped me develop a love of discovery that has kept me enthralled with learning new things for a lifetime, hence my career as a happy if not uber-successful scientist. As long as your kids are excited about life and are enjoying what they do my guess is they will be fine. Seems like this subject really gets at the heart of balance, competitive, hard work, and discipline are virtues but can become faults if not kept in check by a healthy dose of joy, play, and curiosity.

Posted by: rumicat | May 10, 2007 11:58 AM

dotted - best friends lost their oldest son in an auto accident late last week, and our new family priority is clearing our family's schedule and driving to be with them (2 hours one way) and help them through in whatever way we can.

On topic, I always appreciate your comments about your kid's schedules, etc. and hope to follow your very reasonable path. If you don't mind sharing, when did your son take up tennis and what did you all do to support his interest prior to high school?

Posted by: MN | May 10, 2007 12:00 PM

The sports soccer, football, baseball, basketball, and swimming have appeared in 664 posts.

Our top sports fans listed below:

9 Laura
9 Meesh
10 Emily
10 KB
11 dotted
12 CMAC
13 scarry
15 momof4
27 Father of 4
33 Megan's Neighbor

Posted by: Blog Stats | May 10, 2007 12:02 PM

Foamgnome,
Guess what -- THE PARENTS DO THE PROJECTS!!!! And, parents, guess what else -- THE TEACHERS KNOW!!!

Our 4th grade book projects are not too elaborate. Except for those, I give finite homework only. In my mind, fourth-grade homework should be short, and it should be skill reinforcement. High school is a different matter entirely -- the students really should be preparing for the demands of college or the world of work.

I think one reason that kids are lacking in basic skills is the emphasis on these open-ended projects. They are done completely out of order in pedagogy, and the emphasis on higher-order skills has displaced the teaching of basics.

And if I as much as SUSPECT that a parent has had a hand in a project, I knock the grade down by 10%, and I send home a note explaining exactly why. I'm not the only one, either.

Posted by: educmom | May 10, 2007 12:04 PM

Are you the poster formerly known as Megan's Neighbor?

Posted by: Blog Stats | May 10, 2007 12:04 PM

"We have a friend who has her son in private all day kindergarten and then he does Kumon twice a week - he's 6 for goodness sake! She thinks she's going to miss a learning window and the house of cards that is his academic career will crumble."

I love this quote too. One thing that constantly amuses me is the sense we have these days that a child's future can be made or broken by their performance in kindergarten (if not pre-school). I was a bit of a goof as a kid. My mom sent me to summer school math class the summer after I graduated from 6th grade. I ended up majoring in math in college, and becoming an actuary.

We can put waaaay to much stress on our ourselves, and our children. Don't freak if a child has a "bad semester" in kindergarten - they've got time to turn it around! (And besides, odds are they'll actually do better if everyone relaxes just a wee little bit.)

Posted by: Older Dad | May 10, 2007 12:05 PM

If sex were a category, I would be the top sports' fan!!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 12:05 PM

If sex were a category, I would be the top sports' fan!!!!!!

Posted by: | May 10, 2007 12:05 PM


Talking about it is inversely proportional to action.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 12:07 PM

I wonder how much of the scheduling, especially the "toddler enrichment" BS, is due to parents just not knowing how to interact with their young children. The schedule provides a playbook for the parents, most of whom no longer have the kind of multi-generational support system that used to help parents figure this stuff out.

Posted by: a different take | May 10, 2007 12:14 PM

"If sex were a category, I would be the top sports' fan!!!!!!

Posted by: | May 10, 2007 12:05 PM


Talking about it is inversely proportional to action"

How about talking about eating? Any inverse there?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 12:14 PM

"To worker bee: I know what you're saying. But...

After my hideous experience with childhood ballet, I swore I'd never take dance again. Guess what I took up in my 30s to get back into shape? Yup, adult ballet classes.

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 11:17 AM"

catlady: I concede! It is always possible. You'll be the first to know if I decide to drop boxing in favor of returning to dance. :)

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 12:15 PM

Dictionary.com definition for like:
20. as if: He acted like he was afraid. The car runs like new.

*Like* as a synonym for *as* is an informal, yet correct, usage, appropriate for a blog. It is gramatically correct as well.

So there! Nyah! ;P

It's been a LONG day...

Posted by: educmom | May 10, 2007 12:18 PM

My attitude is much more like slacker mom's than the uber-competitive queen bee moms. And realistically, as I am a single parent, there is only so much I am able to do.

I have never pushed my daughter into any sort of extracurricular activities. She has no interest in team sports. She had dance lessons for three years (ages 5-8), then lost interest. So I aksed if she was interested in music (her father played guitar and he left her a guitar). So I found a guitar teacher, and she loves music. I just enrolled her in a performing arts/college prep charter school.

I guess for us, it was important that her interests guide her activities, and there is not a strict schedule. I abhore over-scheduling of any sort. I cannot function without some breathing room, and I do not want to make my kid neurotic.

As for the "I'm bored" topic...when she insists she is bored, I tell her to go change the cats' litter boxes. She rarely tells me she is bored anymore...

Posted by: single western mom | May 10, 2007 12:18 PM

"I'm bored" was always answered with "Find something to read." We always had a monster "library" to choose from. It was there that I found -Catcher in the Rye.- Yay, Mom! Unfortunatley it was also where -Great Expectations- was. Bleck.

Mona, my SIL loves her adult ballet class.

I was kind of a shy kid because I was always the new kid. Activities were TORTURE for me, until I discovered I was a natural at softball. When the new kid always leads off with a double, you're pretty easily accepted. (I batted a .600 one year. TooT TooT.)

I still pretty much hate activity classes, except for cooking.

Posted by: atb | May 10, 2007 12:18 PM

Oops, that was me at 12:15.

Posted by: worker bee | May 10, 2007 12:19 PM

I wonder how much of the scheduling, especially the "toddler enrichment" BS, is due to parents just not knowing how to interact with their young children. The schedule provides a playbook for the parents, most of whom no longer have the kind of multi-generational support system that used to help parents figure this stuff out.

Agreed - all this baloney is simply trying to make up for the absence of the parents and other family members in our children's lives. If I tell my kids I'm working so they can take karate and piano then I won't feel so bad about not being there.

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 12:24 PM

a different take


"The schedule provides a playbook for the parents, most of whom no longer have the kind of multi-generational support system that used to help parents figure this stuff out."

That's right. A mysterious epidemic swept through the country and took out multi-generations. Oh, wait. It was aliens who did something to the multi-generations. No. Aliens aren't in the Bible, so that can't be right. It must have been the godless Ruskies!

Anyhoo, something real bad happened to that multi-generational support system and today's kids are going to hell in a handbasket.

I'm so glad I've been home schooled.

|

Posted by: | Trixie | May 10, 2007 12:25 PM

I'm guessing pb&j is a professional troll. Maybe an unemployed 20 year old guy whose alter ego is a SAHM. What a weirdo.

Posted by: atb | May 10, 2007 12:27 PM

To correct my own entry:
The sentence, "It's gramatically correct as well" was redundant.
Speed-blogging doesn't work for me...

Posted by: educmom | May 10, 2007 12:28 PM

Yeah, they've learned that "I'm bored" is followed by an activity of MY choice. They usually keep quiet and/or out of sight at that point. And yes, I have locked them outside. Here's a dog, a frisbee, don't come back until I call for you. I can't believe I overlooked the cat boxes! I deserve a solid smack on the head for overlooking THAT little gem. Thanks!

I prefer Cechetti method for ballet, personally. It makes "sense" versus some of the other schools. And absolutely you can find adult beginner classes where you do NOT have to deal with the beasts with their damned canes & sharpened fingernails. Another thought for dance is to go with styles that are not as old or formalized. Hip-hop is fun! If you like making noise (waves hand frantically) tap is LOT of fun. Jazz may be a touch kinder on older joints than ballet.

*JenS--cool! Glad the keyboard is a semi-hit. I thought it might be.*


Posted by: MdMother | May 10, 2007 12:29 PM

"We turned out pretty well -- no drug problems, arrest records, or illegitimate kids in our family."

By your standards, my family is a colossal failure.

Plenty of shotgun weddings and illegitimate kids in my family dating back to the 1800's (no record of what happened in the old country).

Raging alcoholics in every generation.

Suicide attempts in every generation.

Lots of mental illness.

Posted by: Ninotchka | May 10, 2007 09:54 AM

__________________________________

I'm pretty sure that's a failure by anyone's standards.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 12:30 PM

If I tell my kids I'm working so they can take karate and piano then I won't feel so bad about not being there.


*let us out of here!!!*

Posted by: pb&j's kids | May 10, 2007 12:30 PM

Agreed - all this baloney is simply trying to make up for the absence of the parents and other family members in our children's lives. If I tell my kids I'm working so they can take karate and piano then I won't feel so bad about not being there.

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 12:24 PM

I'm right in the living room at the piano teacher's house, and on the side of the hill for baseball practice so I fail to see how I could feel bad about "not being there." Who do you think is driving the car to and from what you refer to as "baloney"? I'm very curious about what could be controversial, or have anything to do with our jobs or careers, about our son's interest in baseball. It's an interest he shares with his dad, his uncles and both grandfathers. He begged for piano lessons from age 3 to age 6 before we arranged for lessons, because - da da da DA - two siblings, three cousins, his favorite aunt and his dad play piano.

Since when did interests other than reading, writing and 'rithmetic become something unusual? They often have a basis in family values and are encouraged by older generations of family members, in addition to parents.

pb&j, you must have quite a political ax to grind to make you post comments that sound as though they could have been made by a donkey with blinders on, if only he had the gift of speech.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 12:37 PM

To worker bee: For all I know, you might always hate dance -- which is your prerogative, of course :-) My only point was that you can't entirely forecast what might interest you later in life, so it's nice to get to try a wide variety of activities if you get the opportunity when you're young.

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 12:38 PM

PBJ - I disagree, I think the overscheduling is a direct reflection of our hypercompetitive culture. No one wants to be left behind. I can't see how working parents would make their life easier by putting their children in a lot of activities. I see this overscheduling amongst SAHMs as much if not more than with WOHPs.

Posted by: moxiemom | May 10, 2007 12:40 PM

Laura:

I heard a quote once:

Grandchildren and Grandparents get along because they have the same enemies.

It makes me laugh.

Posted by: atlmom | May 10, 2007 12:40 PM

pb&j, you must have quite a political ax to grind to make you post comments that sound as though they could have been made by a donkey with blinders on, if only he had the gift of speech.

Allow me, please!

You don't need to speak in order to pass gas. That comes out the OTHER end.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | May 10, 2007 12:41 PM

all this baloney is simply trying to make up for the absence of the parents and other family members in our children's lives. If I tell my kids I'm working so they can take karate and piano then I won't feel so bad about not being there.

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 12:24 PM


Why aren't YOU teaching your kids karate and piano yourself?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 12:41 PM

Sorry, I must clarify, that last comment was directed at pb&j. I merely wanted to tweak the prior poster's observation.

Posted by: MdM | May 10, 2007 12:42 PM

Agreed - all this baloney is simply trying to make up for the absence of the parents and other family members in our children's lives. If I tell my kids I'm working so they can take karate and piano then I won't feel so bad about not being there.

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 12:24 PM

Or it could be that the kids are actually interested in these activiiies and their parents care enough about them to try and accomodate them. I guess when I coach my kids soccer team, I am just doing it to get away from her.

Karate and piano are baloney? Are there any activities that you value, or is everything that is not school or chore related baloney?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 12:43 PM

Lots of mental illness.

Posted by: Ninotchka | May 10, 2007 09:54 AM

__________________________________

I'm pretty sure that's a failure by anyone's standards.

Posted by: | May 10, 2007 12:30 PM


Let's get this troll.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 12:45 PM

I can't see how working parents would make their life easier by putting their children in a lot of activities.

I didn't say easier, I said it makes them feel less guilty.

that sound as though they could have been made by a donkey with blinders on, if only he had the gift of speech.

resort to name calling if you want - but the truth is that you cannot come up with one study that says children with absent/working parents do better than those with a stay at home parent; only studies that sometimes show they don't do worse. Low class name calling and references to flatulence are what you do when you have no other recourse.

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 12:47 PM

I think that ovescheduling is bad if it is done to compete with others. I hate hearing how some kid is in horseback riding, ballet, soccer, music etc and (sorry) the mom just beams. Competition using children is obscene. The flip side is the dad pressuring the kid to be in sports for "a scholarship" -what a joke.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 12:53 PM

I agree that it's great to give kids the opportunity to build some basic skills in sports, music, languages, etc. by the early elementary years.

My daughter just started soccer and real music lessons (vs. Kindermusik, which both my kids and I enjoyed). I can already see an improvement in her coordination and confidence in movement. She's having a great time and has asked to sign up for soccer for the fall. Whether or not she maintains her enthusiasm for soccer, she's bound to enjoy being active down the road because she feels more competent.

I think the music has been good too. There's such a direct relationship between practicing and playing something pretty. I think it's a great confidence-builder, and if she continues with it, I think playing in an ensemble can be a great way of learning to work with others just a well as a team sport can be.

That said, for us, two activities at a time is the limit. I do like the idea of the parents picking one and the child picking one, at least for the younger kids. My instinct says that with music, it might be necessary to enforce the stick-to-it-ness for a couple of years anyway. Kids don't always know what's good for them ;-).

Posted by: Marian | May 10, 2007 12:54 PM

resort to name calling if you want - but the truth is that you cannot come up with one study that says children with absent/working parents do better than those with a stay at home parent; only studies that sometimes show they don't do worse. Low class name calling and references to flatulence are what you do when you have no other recourse.

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 12:47 PM

So, your an a$$h0le, because you think the studies back your point. You know, there are ways to make that point without attacking everyone else.

I am also sure I can find a study that says children of hateful, judging parents do worse in life than those of caring, tolerant parents.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 12:56 PM

can't see how working parents would make their life easier by putting their children in a lot of activities.

I didn't say easier, I said it makes them feel less guilty.

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 12:47 PM


Your kids might want to learn more in life than just what you already know. I don't mean that snarkily, either, just that maybe it's a sport you don't know how to play or coach, an instrument you can't play, some skill you lack like art or drama or creative writing or camping or fishing. Don't all parents want to widen their childrens horizons in order to give them a better life than they had? Not that it should be taken to extremes, but too little is at least as bad as too much,.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 12:56 PM

Forgot to mention that all of the kids in my "failure family" were raised by SAHMs despite the best efforts of the Czar's soldiers and Hitler's juggernaut war/genocide machine to liquidate us.

Posted by: Ninotchka | May 10, 2007 12:57 PM

I think my mom did pretty well. And her sister too. So there. I don't need any studies.


How about that maybe a certain type of paretn does certain things, and regardless of their behavior the kid is fine. Then you are citing studies that have found a spurious correlation.

Read freakonomics. It is not having books or being read to that predict success, but who your parents are (not what they do). So there is your study that shows the other side.

Posted by: atlmom | May 10, 2007 12:59 PM

Other than after-school care, held in the school but run by rec & parks; every group activity (sports, scouts, music lessons) in which my children participated included children of all kinds of families. There were those where both parents worked, one parent worked, single parent households, and even households where working grandparents were raising grandchildren.

I was never able to observe the children and discern which child came from which type of household without being told.

Posted by: xyz | May 10, 2007 12:59 PM

So, your an a$$h0le, because you think the studies back your point. You know, there are ways to make that point without attacking everyone else.

I certainly can make my point without using foul language. How else would one validate their point? with anecdotal, "it worked for me" evidence as is so common here?

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 1:00 PM

"I am also sure I can find a study that says children of hateful, judging parents do worse in life than those of caring, tolerant parents."

Like World War II, among many others.

Posted by: Trixie | May 10, 2007 1:01 PM

Other than after-school care, held in the school but run by rec & parks; every group activity (sports, scouts, music lessons) in which my children participated included children of all kinds of families. There were those where both parents worked, one parent worked, single parent households, and even households where working grandparents were raising grandchildren.

I was never able to observe the children and discern which child came from which type of household without being told.


Posted by: xyz | May 10, 2007 12:59 PM

Please, stop with the logic, OK?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:01 PM

Forgot to mention that all of the kids in my "failure family" were raised by SAHMs despite the best efforts of the Czar's soldiers and Hitler's juggernaut war/genocide machine to liquidate us.

You are hard to kill apparently just like Steven Seagal-;)

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 1:02 PM

Not using foul language does not automatically make pb&j's point correct.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:03 PM

"resort to name calling if you want - but the truth is that you cannot come up with one study that says children with absent/working parents do better than those with a stay at home parent; only studies that sometimes show they don't do worse."

pb&j: Did you intend to tell us that children of SAHPs and WOHPs do equally well? Because you did! Thanks!

I REALLY hope you're a troll and not actually responsible for raising children. Kids learn from their parents, and they WILL adopt your hatefulness.

Posted by: atb | May 10, 2007 1:03 PM

"Your kids might want to learn more in life than just what you already know. I don't mean that snarkily, either, just that maybe it's a sport you don't know how to play or coach, an instrument you can't play."

You said it! My parents had too many kids (lucky for me or I wouldn't be here ;-)). Because I was the last and siblings were starting college, there were neither the finances nor the energy to give me lessons. There's no way I could teach my kids athletic skills or music. I'll teach them how to cook and put up a tent and some other useful and fun things. My husband and I agree that we should support the kids in some athletics and music as much as we can though. We consider these things part of a well-rounded education.

Posted by: Marian | May 10, 2007 1:05 PM

There are other ways of being an A$$ without using foul language, but I am sure you know this.

Posted by: to PB&J | May 10, 2007 1:07 PM

pATRICK

"You are hard to kill apparently just like Steven Seagal-;)"


Ha, Ha! Never thought of it that way. Puts a different spin on things. Thanks!


Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:07 PM

Fred, I bet your mom had second thoughts about those in utero karate classes when she felt the kicks. ;-P

Solution for overscheduling: multi-task.

We've all heard the term "underwater-basketweaving" before, right? What other kind of activities can we mix for ultimate efficiency/ absurdity? Don't think of it so much as double-booking, as a source of even more EXTRA redundant balance to help maintain your sanity! Remember to think positive!

Violin-gymnastics

Tuba-Tap Dancing

Piano-Finger Painting

Clay-Bowling

golf-golf

Karate-Soccer

Tai-Chi-Tennis

Posted by: Chris | May 10, 2007 1:09 PM

Tuba-Tap Dancing

Chris, you've never seen a college marching band? THe tubas are always the biggest hams!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:12 PM

moxiemom

"I don't get the Kumon and such. We have a friend who has her son in private all day kindergarten and then he does Kumon twice a week - he's 6 for goodness sake!"

What do you care? You have waay too much leisure time. Try minding your own business!!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:12 PM

There are other ways of being an A$$ without using foul language, but I am sure you know this.

Foul language is certainly one of the easier ways to spot those without class or adequate education. Certainly, if one were smart enough to properly refute an argument one would do so.

I honestly don't see what's hateful about stating the truth. That children do better with a parent at home. That people who can stay at home, but don't are making a selfish choice for which their children will pay. Simply believing that something is good or bad is not hateful.

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 1:16 PM

I would rather be raised by a yuppie than a controlling father who wouldn't let my mother get a drivers license or let me play sports! Sounds like you lived in an abusive home.

GO YUPPIES!

Posted by: to | May 10, 2007 09:39 AM | May 10, 2007 1:18 PM

To PB&J:

So you think a child of a welfare mother on crack (one version of the SAHM (my apologies to SAHMs)) will do better than the child of two working college professors, based on the fact that one parent is home with the kid?

I know, it's a stupid example. But the point is; that while studies can show the affect on a popuation of a particular choice or situation, you can not use studies to extrapolate to the individual. It also shows that by choosing the popoulation of any study, you can make the results be whatever you want them to be.

In most of the studies on the children of SAHP and WOHP the difference between the to populations is so small as to be useles in making individual decisions. So in some cases, anecdotal evidence is more valuable in making those decisions.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:20 PM

pb&j |

What are the studies? How recent are they?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:21 PM

Hey PB&J so if using foul language is a sign of no class or of being uneducated, then what do you call people who are judgmental and make assumptions about other people's children?

I personally would rather be friends with a low class f-bomb dropper than a judgmental mother, but hey, I am a hillbilly.

Posted by: scarry | May 10, 2007 1:22 PM

I certainly can make my point without using foul language. How else would one validate their point? with anecdotal, "it worked for me" evidence as is so common here?

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 01:00 PM

PB&J: As a matter of fact, yes. I would like to hear your anecdotal evidence without blanket statements about why other people are doing things wrong.

Many of those studies you cite are hilarious once you read the fine print. I remember one that made headlines and it wasn't until you actually read the data that - I kid you not - they revealed that kids in daycare had a 51% chance of acting out while those with no daycare experience had a 48% chance. Call me crazy but I'm not basing my choices on a 3% differential.

Obviously I'm putting the study in my own terms and I'm sure foamgnome can confirm that just because an outcome is statistically valid does not mean that it is particularly helpful in real life.

My point is that I don't live my life trying to adhere to what "studies" say I should do. I make choices based upon what I think are appropriate for my family. And my guess is that you choose to do what you think is best for your family.

Posted by: m | May 10, 2007 1:22 PM

pb&j: You keep asking for us to offer up evidence that children with WOHPs are fine. You actually did the job for us, as did the NICHD at the NIH. Where is your evidence that they don't do well?

Posted by: atb | May 10, 2007 1:23 PM

Only pb&j knows the truth, eh? And if she's so pure, why does she keep repeating the foul language? Not so pure, eh?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:23 PM

pbj- what makes you think all these kids with significant activities don't have stay at home mothers/fathers? Activities have nothing to do with staying at home or working.

Posted by: dotted | May 10, 2007 1:25 PM

Why are you all encouraging pb&j? I am sure he/she is getting a big laugh out of it.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 1:25 PM

"So you think a child of a welfare mother on crack "

There are a LOT of these women in my neighborhood. The odds stacked against their kids are VERY disturbing.

Most of their kids DON'T STAND A CHANCE IN THIS WORLD.

Wonder how these kids are figured into the studies.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:25 PM

Thanks for the info about adult ballet. I don't mind "abusive" teachers too much; I flourish under strict guidance. My Sifu is a wonderful person and a great father figure, but he won't say "you're doing great!" if you're messing something up. He'll also crack you on top of the head if you say "I can't," "it's too hard," or otherwise complain. I never thought I could do 100 push-ups in a row until I had a red-faced Chinese guy screaming at me.

The only problem I foresee is losing weight. I hear horror stories about stick-thin ballerinas, and as a former anoretic, I don't want to be pressured to lose weight.

Posted by: Mona | May 10, 2007 1:27 PM

pATRICK- I'm getting a bigger laugh our of pb&j's inability to not look like a total moron. Also, I love how she won't answer any questions. She just pushes her line like Bush. (Sorry, I had to.)

Posted by: atb | May 10, 2007 1:28 PM

We had lots of after-school activities, lots of free time, lots of homework, lots of reading for pleasure, and what seems like plenty of television. I have no doubt that it helped that my mother didn't work outside the home, because that meant that we went straight from school to the neighborhood, rather than to an after-care program of some sort.

A typical school year for me included ballet twice a week, Girl Scouts, riding lessons, softball (in the spring). For a few years I also had piano lessons. I don't remember feeling overscheduled, and it probably helped that we were never forced to continue an activity we didn't enjoy (well, we had to finish out whatever had been paid for, but then we could quit).

My brother played soccer, spring and fall, for 10 years; was active in Indian Guides and later Cub Scouts; and tried a variety of musical instruments.

And that doesn't cover the family camping trips, cultural and artistic events, etc. that I can also find on my mother's old calendars--nor does it address the massive family trips we took every summer. Our parents wanted us to have a wide range of experiences so that we would have a background that let us easily identify and pursue future interests. We were all really busy, individually and as a family, and I have no memories of any of us wanting a slower pace.

It depends on how you approach the activities, and what your goals for your children are, and how much pressure you put on them to meet those goals rather than establish and meet their own. Some kids are going to want lots of activities and some are going to want fewer. Our family's approach wouldn't work for everyone, but it worked really well for us. And I have to think it played a role in making me the Jeopardy champion I am today.

Posted by: Kate | May 10, 2007 1:28 PM

MN -
I didn't do anything to get my son into tennis, other than live near a tennis court. Tennis was an activity at school. He liked it. Next thing I know he's playing all the time.


The thing with scheduling activities is to make sure it is something the kid wants to do him/herself, rather than something the parent wants the kid to do for some perceived social (all the other kids are doing it), or physical value.

Posted by: dotted | May 10, 2007 1:28 PM

"Many of those studies you cite are hilarious once you read the fine print. I remember one that made headlines and it wasn't until you actually read the data that - I kid you not - they revealed that kids in daycare had a 51% chance of acting out while those with no daycare experience had a 48% chance. Call me crazy but I'm not basing my choices on a 3% differential."

That's a great point - but you'd be astounded by how many studies in all areas of the humanities come down, at bottom, to effects of that magnitude (the recent one on the effect of race on the decisions of umpires is a great example). If you're a researcher, getting a difference that's "statistically significant" - no matter how small - means you can publish and claim a significant finding.

Unfortunately, if the results - again, no matter how small - reinforce an idea that we agree with, we're very unlikely to say "yeah, but it's only x%, so who cares?"

Posted by: Demos | May 10, 2007 1:29 PM

Mona- They aren't training you for the ABT! Some of the women are bound to be thin, but if it's gets all judge-y, get out! You don't want to hang with those kind of people anyway.

Posted by: atb | May 10, 2007 1:30 PM

By the way, I'm not knocking after-care programs, or families that don't include a stay-at-home mom. I just mean that in terms of scheduling, that made more time available.

Staying at home vs. working is a personal decision that depends on the needs of the particular family, and I'm not going to say that our solution would work for everyone in that regard, either.

Posted by: Kate | May 10, 2007 1:30 PM

But, Kate, did your family ever sleep?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:30 PM

My friend had the same thoughts u do, pb and j. 10 yrs before she even thought about kids she thought it was horrible for any mom (not parent, mom) to woh. I was sah for almost four yrs, but guess who went back to work within 6 mos of first being born? She justified it by saying she was home, so she was around. Oh, they hired someone who did not really have the capacity to do more than watch the child swing or have the child watch tv. So the child wasn't going out and doing stuff (she worked in the am, pm was for napping).
So people change their opinions all the time-the thing is when they are so adamant about things, they often end up with egg on their face when things change. I do suppose you do not have children.

Posted by: atlmom | May 10, 2007 1:31 PM

"So you think a child of a welfare mother on crack . . . "

Come on guys, let this one go. A "welfare mother on crack" is a confounding factor. I don't carry any brief for pb&j, but this particular argument is a bit like saying: "You think proper nutrition is so great? Well, how about the mom who makes sure her kids get three well balanced meals a day, but let's the play in the street with loaded guns?"

Posted by: Demos | May 10, 2007 1:32 PM

I hate studies, there are so many that they are meaningless and usually hopelessly politicized. They literally drive me crazy to listen to, "50% of men suffer from golden retreiver head while 36.5 suffer from broken penis syndrome etc etc."

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 1:33 PM

The only problem I foresee is losing weight. I hear horror stories about stick-thin ballerinas, and as a former anoretic, I don't want to be pressured to lose weight.

Posted by: Mona

At this point, they won't do that to you. If you are over 30, you are over-the-hill and there is no chance of you becoming a professional ballerina (and thus boost the studio's cachet & drawing power). Don't worry about that part--really!

Believe me, you are NOT over-the-hill at 30, just in the ballet world. Don't sweat it.

Go to a few adult beginner classes, get a feel for the instructor(s) styles and class make-up. If they make you feel uneasy or uncomfortable with the body you've got, move on. There are plenty of studios around!

Have fun, that's the most important part. Have you thought about taking up ballroom dancing? Not saying there aren't plenty of too-thin dancers in that arena too, but the opportunity to dance with someone, right off the bat, has a certain appeal.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | May 10, 2007 1:34 PM

Fingers get ahead of brain - very bad. Should be:

" . . . but lets them play in the street with loaded guns?"

Posted by: Demos | May 10, 2007 1:36 PM

Obviously I'm putting the study in my own terms and I'm sure foamgnome can confirm that just because an outcome is statistically valid does not mean that it is particularly helpful in real life.

My point is that I don't live my life trying to adhere to what "studies" say I should do. I make choices based upon what I think are appropriate for my family. And my guess is that you choose to do what you think is best for your family.

So are you going to make choices about cancer treatment based upon what is best for your family? Would you buy a car based on what was best for your family, crash test date be damned? Certainly using empirical evidence and the opinion of people who work with children professionally would likely lead to a better outcome than what feels right.

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 1:37 PM

Well, my mom wasn't on crack- just some other stuff, and we were on welfare. She gave me the drive to succeed and accomplish more in my few years than many do in their entire lives. I am no better than anyone else, I just refused to accept failure as an option despite any odds. I told myself I would do something, and I set to do it. Yes, I have failed many times along the way, but I have also experienced success. Without motivation to even try, I would have just been one of the many stuck in the dark on welfare, unable to see any light worth heading for. All too often you hear society shouting that these kids will never amount to anything- and the problem is that if you keep saying it, everyone will believe it and never expect anything truly great from them, and only bad. You must challenge and encourage, not announce failure. If anyone ever had a discouraging word, my mom would always encourage me to do my best to show that I could do whatever I set out to do. Kids are sponges and soak up their environment, but if you give them hope of a better life at a young enough age, and tell them that they have the power to influence their life, they will have something to hold onto as they pull themselves up.

Posted by: Chris | May 10, 2007 1:39 PM

Or aikido? It's almost like "martial dancing" - and you get to throw people around the mat.

Posted by: Demos | May 10, 2007 1:41 PM

I honestly don't see what's hateful about stating the truth. That children do better with a parent at home. That people who can stay at home, but don't are making a selfish choice for which their children will pay. Simply believing that something is good or bad is not hateful.

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 01:16 PM

There is nothing hateful about stating the truth, but you don't state the truth. You state your opinion based on your beliefs and a few cherry picked studies and call it "the truth". And believing something is good or bad is not hateful, but is still your belief. Pointing out that the other person is bad for not having the same belief is the hateful part.

There is no proof that any one individual parent choosing to work will make their children pay. The studies that say "That children do better with a parent at home." do not say "your child will pay if one of you doesn't stay home". They say if one of the parents stay home there is a greater probability that the future outcome for the child will be better. There is no absolute guarantee that this is "the truth"
______________

"all this baloney is simply trying to make up for the absence of the parents and other family members in our children's lives. If I tell my kids I'm working so they can take karate and piano then I won't feel so bad about not being there."

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007

This is the truth? How do you know what the working parent of children think? No, this is just a jab at working parents made by someone who believes they are always right.

Just to get my point across, you are still an A$$h0le. ;)

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:41 PM

Get the raw data and watch for the outliers.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:42 PM

"Fingers get ahead of brain - very bad. Should be:

" . . . but lets them play in the street with loaded guns?"


Posted by: Demos | May 10, 2007 01"

My typos today are caused by typing with one hand while scratching a huge spider bite on my inner thigh with the other hand - also very bad.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:42 PM

My typos today are caused by typing with one hand while scratching a huge spider bite on my inner thigh with the other hand - also very bad.


Posted by: | May 10, 2007 01:42 PM

You may want to get that checked out, make certain you don't get an abscess...or worse!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:45 PM

Where's Megan's Neighbor when we need her? She could realy bring some calm and reason to this discussion.

Posted by: moxiemom | May 10, 2007 1:46 PM

The Studies on Kids

Are they taking into account all the inbred retard kids in some parts of the country?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:46 PM

We had great after school activities - they were called delivering newspapers and babysitting. One of the biggest things these taught us was the meaning of a committment. If you committed to doing "A" but something better came up you couldn't blow off "A" for "B".

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 10, 2007 1:47 PM

So are you going to make choices about cancer treatment based upon what is best for your family? Would you buy a car based on what was best for your family, crash test date be damned? Certainly using empirical evidence and the opinion of people who work with children professionally would likely lead to a better outcome than what feels right.

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 01:37 PM

I didn't say that I ignore emperical evidence and professional opinions. When determining what is best for my family I have to consider those factors PLUS what I know (and you don't) about myself, my husband, my children, my extended family, our community, etc.

Posted by: m | May 10, 2007 1:47 PM

I found this: www.fluidity.com

I have NO idea if it works as advertised, but I'm finding it reasonably fascinating.

What do you (pl) think? Anyone here try it? Too new to say? I just don't have TIME to go to a dance class, but I like the idea of a video accompaniement.

Posted by: to Mona | May 10, 2007 1:47 PM

until pb&j finds a new toy, there will be no intelligent discussion on this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:48 PM

pb&j, would you choose a cancer treatment for yourself or a family member based on what you think is best, or based on what rigorous medical studies think is best? Or are you an oncological specialist too?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:48 PM

Well, my mom wasn't on crack- just some other stuff, and we were on welfare. She gave me the drive to succeed and accomplish more in my few years than many do in their entire lives.

Posted by: Chris | May 10, 2007 01:39 PM

Well, Chris, it's the crack that makes all the difference. ;)

Chris you are example of my point, according to the "studies" you should be a failure, but you are not (I assume). Just like the child of a WOHP may not turn out to be an unadjusted, aggressive Yuppie.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:51 PM

I'm guilty -- a serious over scheduler. I never set out to do it but time is a vaccum. There's always something out there to do.

My son is in high school so any activity (music, sports) is done on a regular basis. It only takes one activity to be overscheduled, two is insane.

My youngest is a good athlete so soccer becomes year-round competitive and softball turns into a three season a year sport. I hated to take her out of dance and before that gymnastics, when she was good at both, but something had to give. She prefers team sports. I wish I could fit music lessons in but that isn't in the cards. She'll just have to do school lessons.

Yeah, she's definitely over scheduled for such a little kid. I could choose one sport over another but neither of us is ready to do that. And if I did drop a sport, there'd be so many things that she could do instead (swim, dive, music, singing) and then we'd be over-booked again.

I tend to let her play outside a little later than I should or even play through dinner so she gets some free time. The problem with free time? It's amazing how much trouble the kids can get into when they're "free". I get calls from neighbors, the kid comes home with major bruises from skateboarding, etc. I could remenisce about the good old days, but the things we did... We're lucky we survived.

Posted by: jane jetson | May 10, 2007 1:54 PM

Chris

"Well, my mom wasn't on crack- just some other stuff, and we were on welfare"

I'm gonna take a wild guess here-

you have white skin

you have higher than average intelligence

you weren't brought up in an abusive home

you had encouragement and support from your mother and others on a faily consistent basis

you weren't dehumanized and numbed to the point where it wouldn't take much for you to lose your humanity

YOU HAD A LOT OF LUCK OTHER KIDS DIDN'T HAVE!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:54 PM

Chris, if you'd come from a more economically privileged background, what advantages would you have liked to have had as a child that you missed out on?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 1:55 PM

JANE JETSON, last time I checked YOU were the parent and decision maker.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 2:00 PM

Leslie,

We have, in the past, limited to our kids' activities to one season-long sport at a time, but also have time set aside for their religious education, which takes one night a week. Having a practice one night, a game another (in the case of softball), and then CCD on yet another and that is more than enough. We did, however, expand that rule this year with our daughter. Now that she is in 7th grade, she does a better job at regulating herself.

Additionally, we have a "No TV" rule during the week, so that leaves plenty of time to run around the neighborhood and play after other activities. Am I stunting their development? I don't think so. How many kids actually get sports scholarships for college? And those that do are generally self-driven. Parent-driven sports interests often burn out by high school.

Just my 2 cents...kids need limits and need their parents to provide opportunities and also guidance.

Posted by: ParentPreneur | May 10, 2007 2:01 PM

you have white skin

Yes, because all white people are privileged.

Posted by: Al Sharpton | May 10, 2007 2:01 PM

Chris: I've always wondered. If you see your mom (figurativelt) going to the mailbox for "free" money each week, how do you not view the world as 'owing' you a check? How do you learn a work ethic-ie, I do something for someone they pay me or, this is the way mom got by, so this must be fine. That's one reason I'm more inclined to back those programs that require those receiving checks to do something-to get some self confidence, sure, and maybe eventually get a job, but also so the next generation learns that this is not the way it should be.

Posted by: atlmom | May 10, 2007 2:02 PM

"But, Kate, did your family ever sleep?"

Yes, my brother and I also had enforced bedtimes!

"So are you going to make choices about cancer treatment based upon what is best for your family? Would you buy a car based on what was best for your family, crash test date be damned? Certainly using empirical evidence and the opinion of people who work with children professionally would likely lead to a better outcome than what feels right."

I'm having trouble seeing how these are parallel. How you spend your time is not on a par with health and safety issues. It doesn't mean that there is no value in sociological studies, but any responsible researcher will also say that the study cannot be used as an unchanging template for all people.

Posted by: Kate | May 10, 2007 2:04 PM

Would you buy a car based on what was best for your family, crash test date be damned?

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 01:37 PM

No, but I am not going to buy the car with the best crash test data if it doesn't meet the needs of my family either.

------------------
Certainly using empirical evidence and the opinion of people who work with children professionally would likely lead to a better outcome than what feels right.

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 01:37 PM

My point is; the empirical evidence on this subject is not difinitive. The opinions of people who work with children are just that, opinions, often colored by their experience.

While I will take those things into account when making my decisions, I will not ignore my own opinions. This is because I know my family and child better than any "person who works with children" and the sociologist that did a study without ever meeting one of the subjects.

The other point is that children, while probably at the top of the priority list, are not the only people on the list. The lives of myself and my wife need to be factored in when all family decisions are made.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 2:07 PM

My wife and I have a one sport per season rule. With 2 kids it can quickly get out of hand if you exceed that given practices and games. I don't want a beaten down chaffeur for a wife and I don't want to be one either.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 2:10 PM

i didn't realize that i signed my son up for tumbling when he was younger was because i felt guilty over working. i thought i did it because he loved it and would just beam whenever he got to swing on the tapeeze or bounce on the trampoline. thanks for telling me that you know the real reason why i did that. i never would have know if you hadn't told me. i'm so glad that there are people out there who don't even know me but know why i do things.

i signed my son up for a number of different sports & activities just to see what he liked or didn't like. he doesn't seem to like team sports but that could be because, at his age, the idea of "team" is still shakey. he might like team sports later. right now he likes tennis, swimming, & gymnastics. music & dance he likes but i think he is starting to think that they're for girls.

Posted by: quark | May 10, 2007 2:10 PM

Balance :-)

Posted by: To pATRICK | May 10, 2007 2:11 PM

(raising hand) Slacker mom here! I am divorced and defer to my ex to some degree with regard to the whole activity thing so my kids do participate in several activities, but if it were up to me, unless they were begging for it and showed consistent interest I would not sign them up for anything.

Either that or I would do what my mom did--impose the "one sport a season" rule. I swam and ran track and cross country--but not all at once. I also excelled in all these sports, lettering in all and being picked as swim team captain.

Does my life suck now because I never had piano lessons or played ice hockey? No.

Posted by: Maggie | May 10, 2007 2:12 PM

Or, they're a way to MEET girls ;-)

Posted by: To quark | May 10, 2007 2:14 PM

atlmom

"Chris: I've always wondered. If you see your mom (figurativelt) going to the mailbox for "free" money each week, how do you not view the world as 'owing' you a check? How do you learn a work ethic "

My brothers and sisters and I didn't learn a work ethic growing up in this environment.

We grew up seeing NO ONE work, no one juggle any kind of responsibilites, no one have a schedule to keep.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 2:14 PM

The other thing that bothers me about overscheduling is that aI would like to actually watch my child do it. If they both do too much, I see one but not the other and vice versa for my wife. We do soccer in the spring and fall and basketball in summer and winter. I would love to sign my daughter up for ice skating, has anyone had any experience? She may be too young though (4).

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 2:15 PM

Or maybe you're just incapable of knowing what you missed out on.

Posted by: To Maggie | May 10, 2007 2:16 PM

altmom I know many people who see their parents on welfare and bust their butt not to become like them.

There are a few things that play a factor in that though, such as: culture, outside influences, whether or not the kids have access to birth control. It's hard to not need help when you are 16 and pregnant.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 2:16 PM

My point is; the empirical evidence on this subject is not difinitive. The opinions of people who work with children are just that, opinions, often colored by their experience.

The reality is that people don't take the empirical evidence into account. They rationalize and try to discount the data or professional opinion to suit their own desires. Its really no different than the way most people treat religion. What suits their hypothesis or desires is accepted, the rest is discarded through rationalization.

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 2:16 PM

Chris, You must have what I refer to as "The Survival Gene". Some people overcome almost any adverse circumstances while others can't make it to work with a hangnail.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 10, 2007 2:18 PM

PB&J: WHAT DATA? YOU KEEP GOING ON AND ON ABOUT DATA!! WHAT DATA? Seriously, repeating the same thing over and over doesn't make it true.

Posted by: atb | May 10, 2007 2:22 PM

since pb&j's tender ears are offended by commonly understood and utilized references to barnyard animals, I will offer a new description: pb&j is logic-disadvantaged.

the parents I know who are running themselves ragged with activities are all SAHMs. It's part of the whole culture of SAHM perfectionism that goes along with the worst of pb&j's viewpoint: I am staying home because I want only the best, the best, the best for my children. Why? Why is the "best" the goal? What about, we're doing the best we can and it's fine? or, as moxiemom says, we are keeping the bar low for all of us.

WOH parents are not available, or crazy enough to sign up, for practices that commence at 4:15 p.m. and are located in adjacent counties. My favorite absurdity is the one I heard at soccer practice last week - a WOH dad talking about how hard it would be next year for his SAHM wife because their 14-year old daughter was accepted on a cheer squad, get this, 2.2 hours away from their residence. She (and daughter) will be driving four and one half hours a day 4 days a week to practice plus traveling to competitions every weekend. This couple is united in thinking that competitive sports involvement is the most important thing to encourage. We respectively think they've lost their minds, but the more mature reaction is, this wouldn't be of interest to us, but if it works for them, and everyone's happy, all power to them.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 2:23 PM

"PB&J: WHAT DATA? YOU KEEP GOING ON AND ON ABOUT DATA!! WHAT DATA? Seriously, repeating the same thing over and over doesn't make it true.

Posted by: atb | May 10, 2007 02:22 PM "

ATB , You really are like a moth to the flame today aren't you?

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 2:24 PM

Chris, You must have what I refer to as "The Survival Gene". Some people overcome almost any adverse circumstances while others can't make it to work with a hangnail.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 10, 2007 02:18 PM

I find this whole concept fascinating. What is it that allows one person to be destroyed by something and another to rise above. I always wonder what kind of adult I would be if I had not had the terrific parents and economic advantages I had. THAT would be a fun and interesting topic.

Posted by: moxiemom | May 10, 2007 2:24 PM

I wish someone would do a study on loud mouth, lazy SAHMs.

Posted by: to PB&j | May 10, 2007 2:25 PM

Once again have any of you put your daughters in ice skating?

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 2:26 PM

My wife and I have a one sport per season rule. With 2 kids it can quickly get out of hand if you exceed that given practices and games. I don't want a beaten down chaffeur for a wife and I don't want to be one either.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 02:10 PM

I feel like a beaten down chauffer (which spelling is correct?) sometimes - when soccer/football season is over I am so happy to have my normal evenings and weekends back. 2 weeks and I can become a slacker mom!

My daughter already told me she does not want to do anything but go to the pool, play outside and go on vacation this summer. We told her she was going to VBS (one week) and will do the summer reading program at the local Library summer reading program too and she was good with that. No sports/adventure camps though, we can't afford the camps so I am glad she doesn't want to go.

Posted by: CMAC | May 10, 2007 2:28 PM

pATRICK: It's AMAZING to watch the question dodging. I'm excited to see how she gets around my capital letters. Aren't you on the edge of your seat?

Posted by: atb | May 10, 2007 2:28 PM

My parents chose to keep me out of ice skating because of the competitive atmosphere even at the lowest levels. And it costs a small fortune.

Posted by: To pATRICK | May 10, 2007 2:29 PM

Kate-- you mention after-care programs. i was under the impression that they can be very enriching places for school-aged children. My son's school mostly just does art projects and lets the kids play games on the playground, but I've heard of others where music and foreign language and sports are taught.

does anyone think their after-school program doesn't provide enough enriching programs?
anyone think there are too many-- that the kids are overscheldued at aftercare and they should have more free time to just talk and play with each other doing whatever they want (although supervised, of course!)?

Posted by: Jen S. | May 10, 2007 2:29 PM

moxiemom

"I always wonder what kind of adult I would be if I had not had the terrific parents and economic advantages I had. THAT would be a fun and interesting topic."

No need to wonder, it's pretty obvious.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 2:30 PM

I feel like a beaten down chauffer (which spelling is correct?) sometimes


Your spelling is correct, I was too lazy to spell check. I was afraid that the ice skating would be too competitive and expensive.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 2:32 PM

chauffeur, but who's checking?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 2:35 PM

Quark, you wrote "he doesn't seem to like team sports"

It has been my experience that my children are more prone to like the activity based on the personalities of the coach or teacher. In other words, some kids don't like to be screamed at by a coach, and then they report not liking the activity.

I was sad that my favorite daughter cut out violin, as I understood why. The teacher made it all about playing the instrument, acting as professionals, studious, which is all well and good...

BUT...

It just wasn't fun.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 10, 2007 2:36 PM

pATRICK: We live in a midwestern college town. There is a small city-owned ice rink 1/2 mile from our house that is open about 6 months out of the year. Each of my children (youngest is a 4-year old girl) took 12 weeks of lessons this past winter. It was 30 minutes once a week.

She enjoyed it and learned to skate. I definitely plan on re-enrolling her in the lessons next year. There have been some requests from the kids to join the hockey team and I'm neutral about that but the husband is dead-set against.

Posted by: m | May 10, 2007 2:37 PM

chauffeur, but who's checking?

Certainly not me apparently, I got it wrong twice.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 2:38 PM

The reality is that people don't take the empirical evidence into account. They rationalize and try to discount the data or professional opinion to suit their own desires. Its really no different than the way most people treat religion. What suits their hypothesis or desires is accepted, the rest is discarded through rationalization.

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 02:16 PM

Pot meet kettle.

So if several studies came out tomorrow saying that being a WOHP was better for your kids, you would go find a job tomorrow?

Do you believe that "professional opinion" is devoid of the professionals biases and rationalizations? If it were, there would be no debate about anything because everything would be decided by the empirical evidence. The world is not black and white like you seem to believe, there are shades of grey.

How do you know people haven't taken the empirical evidence into account? I read with interest a lot of abstracts of these studies. The reality is that the outcomes are usually barely statistically significant. The study populations don't fit my situations perfectly. Or the defintion of "better" (an entirely subject definition) is not the same as mine.

For example one study you would probably list as supporting your point stated that daycare kids were more aggressive when entering kindergarten. But if you read the fine print, the difference was totally gone by first grade and the judgement of what was aggressive, was made by the parents. And why is aggressive a bad trait?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 2:40 PM

moxiemom

"I always wonder what kind of adult I would be if I had not had the terrific parents and economic advantages I had. THAT would be a fun and interesting topic."

No need to wonder, it's pretty obvious.

Posted by: | May 10, 2007 02:30 PM

You are right, pretty, pretty groovy! Thanks!

Posted by: moxiemom | May 10, 2007 2:40 PM

"

Kate-- you mention after-care programs. i was under the impression that they can be very enriching places for school-aged children. My son's school mostly just does art projects and lets the kids play games on the playground, but I've heard of others where music and foreign language and sports are taught."

I don't know if they even existed, at least as they're known today, when I was a kid. I suppose that it's like anything else--some programs are fantastic and some aren't. Certainly the opportunity seems to be there.

This is why I said I'm not knocking them. I suspect that they offer a lot of possibilities (the variety I got from Girl Scouts alone is pretty mind-boggling), but I also suspect there is great variation.

Other posts keep reminding me of additional activities, like the after-school French lessons my school offered (hated them) and CCD (how I felt about it depended primarily on the teacher). I guess we were really busy, but it didn't seem onerous.

Posted by: Kate | May 10, 2007 2:41 PM

My two cents worth is this: Buy the fabulous book that was just published in the U.S. a week ago, although it was published in the UK well over a year ago: "The Big Dangerous Book for Boys." Give a copy of that to a son who can read independently and he'll be busy for at least a whole summer figuring out how to do things like "build a fort", Morse code, or bow and arrow. You won't need any extra scheduling; just a little bit of help from Dad (or Mom) to gather materials. It's an absolutely GREAT BOOK.

Remember, you read it here first.

Posted by: CA Adoptive Mom | May 10, 2007 2:44 PM

Once again have any of you put your daughters in ice skating?

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 02:26 PM

No formal lessons yet, but I am teaching her to skate. She wants to play hockey like her dad.

She is pretty pissed there are no pro hockey leagues for women and has decided that when she grows up, she is going to start one. (that's my girl)

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 2:45 PM

The Big Dangerous Book for Boys." Give a copy of that to a son who can read independently and he'll be busy for at least a whole summer figuring out how to do things like "build a fort", Morse code, or bow and arrow.

Posted by: CA Adoptive Mom | May 10, 2007 02:44 PM

My daughter would love that!

We already have several pages of blueprints for her "clubhouse". Although, I will probably nix the elevator idea.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 2:48 PM

As someone who hasn't been out of childhood very long, I find it very bad that Moms and Dads are "signing up" their children for activities. I was a very active and involved child. When I was young, I acted for quite a few years, took music lessons and tried then eventually quit a few sports (soccer, karate). My Mom never suggested or hinted these things to me, I developed the interest myself and then asked her if I could do them. I didn't get brand new instruments and when money was tight I had to stick to one activity at a time. Later on I became very involved in music (band, jazz band, pep band, etc etc). But getting around town was still my responsibility. School wasn't within walking distance of home. I could either catch a ride with a classmate, or have my parents pick me up at either of the times they passed by the school on their way home. There was no way they'd pick me up and drop me off later so if I had an evening activity it meant I stuck around. I think too many parents are micromanaging their children's lives. Let your kids choose what they want to do within the limits of your time and your finances. They may surprise you. My sister did a lot of the same activities but wasn't so motivated in high school. Instead, she was academically brilliant in ways that benefited her in college. She did this all on her own with tutoring or after school programs or anything like that. Kids really need to find their own paths, not follow their parents.

Posted by: Miles | May 10, 2007 2:50 PM

"So if several studies came out tomorrow saying that being a WOHP was better for your kids, you would go find a job tomorrow?"

to 2:40: Who are you? Posts like that should have a name, so I can look for you again. I heart you a little bit.

Posted by: atb | May 10, 2007 2:51 PM

pATRICK

"Once again have any of you put your daughters in ice skating?"

No. My wussie yuppie kids couldn't take being out in the cold for longer than 1/2 hour at a time. I don't piss money away on whims.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 2:51 PM

pATRICK

"Once again have any of you put your daughters in ice skating?"

No. My wussie yuppie kids couldn't take being out in the cold for longer than 1/2 hour at a time. I don't piss money away on whims.

Posted by: | May 10, 2007 02:51 PM

Ha! I love it.

Posted by: Miles | May 10, 2007 2:54 PM

The Big Dangerous Book for Boys." Give a copy of that to a son who can read independently and he'll be busy for at least a whole summer figuring out how to do things like "build a fort", Morse code, or bow and arrow.

Posted by: CA Adoptive Mom | May 10, 2007 02:44 PM

Sounds awesome, I'll be getting a copy. Perfect with summer around the corner!

Posted by: moxiemom | May 10, 2007 2:55 PM

So if several studies came out tomorrow saying that being a WOHP was better for your kids, you would go find a job tomorrow?

If you truly believe that someone making at most, $12 an hour is better qualified than you are to raise, instruct and nurture your child than maybe you are right. Then again, if you aren't really best qualified to care for them, maybe you shouldn't have had them at all?

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 2:58 PM

If you truly believe that someone making at most, $12 an hour is better qualified than you are to raise....................

You didn't answer the question.

Posted by: scarry | May 10, 2007 3:02 PM

Then again, if you aren't really best qualified to care for them, maybe you shouldn't have had them at all?

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 02:58 PM


What about the foreign au pair who can teach her native language, so your children can learn a second language? I doubt you could do that as well.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:03 PM

pb&j

"If you truly believe that someone making at most, $12 an hour is better qualified than you are to raise, instruct and nurture your child than maybe you are right. Then again, if you aren't really best qualified to care for them, maybe you shouldn't have had them at all?"

My religion forbids birth control, so I have no choice as to how many children my husband and I will have.

Posted by: Virgie | May 10, 2007 3:04 PM

To Mona:

What can you tell me about tai chi? My son has alot of energy and would benefit form the focus and discipline of any sport!

Posted by: 2xmami | May 10, 2007 3:04 PM

If you truly believe that someone making at most, $12 an hour is better qualified than you are to raise, instruct and nurture your child than maybe you are right. Then again, if you aren't really best qualified to care for them, maybe you shouldn't have had them at all?

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 02:58 PM

Damn. I thought it was all about the DATA, DATA, DATA and now I find it's about "belief". I'm so disheartened that my new idol, pb&j, has feet of clay.

Plus, she has now managed to insult every parent in the world with one day of insipid blogging. Who knew that it was all about the money -- I didn't realize that if I paid for a $45,000 nanny, that would make her better qualified to be in the presence of my precious children than a $12.50 an hour loving grandmother, or -- gasp -- a free passel of aunts. Evidently, with childcare, you get what you pay for. Wait! Wait! That means that non-paid SAHMs are all low quality caregivers. She couldn't mean that. Her guilt about being a burr on the derriere of an elephant has caused her to lose all common sense.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:06 PM

This is one of those wierd topics that arises from time to time in well educated areas. Obviously, "balance" and whatever that entails, is the best for each family, defined by that family. But it seems like most of the country has a problem with too much tv/not enough exercise/non tv stimulation so that "overscheduling" doesn't seem like that big a deal to me. Or the "too many teen girls are anorexic!" headline - any anorexic girls is too many, but for the most part, more people in this country are killing themselves by ingesting cheetos by the ton and making themselves fat and diabetic. Or the overstressed teen headline about kids in highly educated areas who feel pressure to get into great colleges, when most high school kids are barely qualified for college, much less a good one. I guess what I'm saying is: balance is the ideal, but if you can't have that, I'd rather have an overscheduled kid than one sitting in a barcalounger watching 5-6 hours of tv and eating a giant bag of Cheetos his parents bought him at Costco.

Posted by: ELG | May 10, 2007 3:06 PM

Wow...interesting discussions today. I think altmom's question about whether younger generations of welfare parents feeling 'owed' a check is interesting. I also think pb&j is just stirring the pot with her comments today...I think she may have shuffled back under the bridge...

Someone wrote "the parents I know who are running themselves ragged with activities are all SAHMs. It's part of the whole culture of SAHM perfectionism that goes along with the worst of pb&j's viewpoint: I am staying home because I want only the best, the best, the best for my children. Why? Why is the "best" the goal? What about, we're doing the best we can and it's fine? or, as moxiemom says, we are keeping the bar low for all of us."

I find this to be so true in my AA county neighborhood. A vast majority of the moms are SAH, with 2-3 kids. The overscheduling has evolved into some sort of bizarro 'competition' to be the most beaten down chauffeur of multiple kids. For what? Sympathy? 'I'm not worthy, you sacrifice so much more for your kids than I do, you must be the superior mom' What the? I just don't get it.

Posted by: 2girls2boys | May 10, 2007 3:06 PM

So are you going to make choices about cancer treatment based upon what is best for your family? Certainly using empirical evidence and the opinion of people who work with children professionally would likely lead to a better outcome than what feels right.

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 01:37 PM

Funny you should use cancer as an example. Do you actually have any experience with a cancer diagnosis? I'm going to assume no. (Note - this is what it looks like when a person acknowledges that he/she is making an assumption.)

Here's what happened when my father was diagnosed. Well, sir we think you have cancer but don't know for sure. We'll need to run some additional tests...yep, you have big-long-name type of cancer. Now there are 3 different ways to treat this cancer. In my practice with patients of your age I typically have the best outcome when we follow treatment A. However, a recent study was published showing good results from treatment B. But I don't know if in your case we would get the same results because the study participants were on average 20 years younger than you. You also might want to try treatment C. It has a few more side effects - some of which are nasty - but a slightly higher long-term success rate. Why don't you consider it for a few days, talk over the options with your family and let me know which you choose.

You still want to compare cancer treatment with your apparently black and white view of child rearing?

Posted by: a reader | May 10, 2007 3:07 PM

"The Big Dangerous Book for Boys."

I'm buying 6 for my kids & some others too.

Thanks so much!

Posted by: Maryland Mother | May 10, 2007 3:07 PM

pATRICK, I took ice skating as a kid-probably started by six and wish I had continued (it was piano or ice skating and I with no musical talent, chose piano). I never took it up again with lessons but we would go almost weekly on friday nights (then to the ice cream place).

I think it can get competitive (a friend of mine got that far but didn't like competing so she quit). But it is so much fun (I wish there were a rink closer to me).

Posted by: atlmom | May 10, 2007 3:08 PM

pATRICK, We haven't gone the skating route, but we have several friends who have. It's my understanding that, like ice hockey, it only gets expensive if your child is really, really good and seeks more challenge or training. At that point, if she really loves it and you can afford it, etc., the expense may make sense in your family budget.

Posted by: MN | May 10, 2007 3:09 PM

pb&j will discount all your good sense because you said "Damn".

Posted by: To 3:06 | May 10, 2007 3:09 PM

The Dangerous Book for Boys (Hardcover)
by Conn Iggulden (Author), Hal Iggulden (Author)

I'm keeping a copy for ME, in case anyone is wondering. You shouldn't though!

Posted by: Maryland Mother | May 10, 2007 3:11 PM

You didn't answer the question.

Immaterial, because it won't ever happen. Silly hypotheticals serve no purpose.

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 3:12 PM

"pATRICK, We haven't gone the skating route, but we have several friends who have. It's my understanding that, like ice hockey, it only gets expensive if your child is really, really good and seeks more challenge or training. At that point, if she really loves it and you can afford it, etc., the expense may make sense in your family budget. "


I checked and it is $99 for 7 weeks 30 minutes a week plus 8 free passes to free skate. Seems relatively affordable to me, My wife has not weighed in so we will see.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 3:12 PM

Can somebody out there help me? My mother is a control freak. My dad works 80 hour weeks to pay the bills and visits his girlfriend on the weekends. My sister and I come straight home from school. We aren't allowed to do sports, music, or other activities, because our mother needs us to need her, and not some other instructor. She has no friends because all the mothers in the neighborhood are classless and ignorant. We aren't allowed to go to amusement parks or arcades. That's for idiots. No Disney for us. All we eat is peanut butter and jelly, and I get terribly constipated from lack of fiber. Our life is wonderful, really. We enjoy the arts, music, and go abroad every year. Our mother lives for us, really. But I am 12 and don''t want to breastfeed any more. How do I break it to her? And my sister wants to play with the classless idiots with working parents who live across the street. It looks like they are having so much fun. Why is it so hard to be perfect and elite. It's lonely out here, in the perfect life. Can somebody be our friends please?

Posted by: Help | May 10, 2007 3:12 PM

2xmami, I enjoyed Tai Chi immensely. A good teacher will teach your son discipline and patience. It is great for core strength and stability, as well as balance. It also teaches proper breathing techniques. The down side (for some) is that it's very relaxing. If your son has a ton of energy he might be disruptive, so I'd suggest giving him some time every day to run around like a madman, as little boys often do, or to allow him to do a more cardiovascular sport as well. For me, Tai Chi came after a Kung Fu class, so it was a good cool down. Tai Chi itself is very beneficial for long-term health and mental health, and can be deadly if it is used quickly and appropriately, but it's not so great for burning off kid energy. I'd say it's a great choice for kids, as long as they have an outlet to expend their pent-up energy.

Posted by: Mona | May 10, 2007 3:13 PM

Are you actually in the D.C. area? My kids did take ice-skating lessons at Wheaton Regional Park. Just a session or two, so they could learn some of the fun stuff.

Posted by: to pATRICK | May 10, 2007 3:13 PM

pb&j will discount all your good sense because you said "Damn".

Yes, you are uneducated and have no class.

Dammit what a F-ing pain in the ass PB&J is.

Posted by: scarry | May 10, 2007 3:15 PM

"2xmami, I enjoyed Tai Chi immensely. A good teacher will teach your son discipline and patience. It is great for core strength and stability, as well as balance. It also teaches proper breathing techniques. The down side (for some) is that it's very relaxing. If your son has a ton of energy he might be disruptive, so I'd suggest giving him some time every day to run around like a madman, as little boys often do, or to allow him to do a more cardiovascular sport as well. For me, Tai Chi came after a Kung Fu class, so it was a good cool down. Tai Chi itself is very beneficial for long-term health and mental health, and can be deadly if it is used quickly and appropriately, but it's not so great for burning off kid energy. I'd say it's a great choice for kids, as long as they have an outlet to expend their pent-up energy."

But MONA the question is -Do they allow girls to wear their princess dresses in class? ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 3:15 PM

2girls2boys

"AA county neighborhood"

Does AA = Alcoholics Anonymous? Cool!

Posted by: Office Krupke | May 10, 2007 3:15 PM

Our school actually has girl scouts as an "after care activity" once a week. The girls don't have to go, but it's one of the many choices offered.

Parents seem to want more options available, but the kids then don't sign up for the extra activities! instead, they seem pretty happy just using the time to run around the blacktop, swing on the bars, chat with friends, etc.

Posted by: Jen S. | May 10, 2007 3:15 PM

Just wondering: Are any actual soccer games ever played or is it all just practice, practice, practice?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:15 PM

Immaterial, because it won't ever happen.

Yeah, getting a job that pays a living wage is next-to-impossible when you haven't graduated high school or earned a GED.

Better hope that your husband doesn't find someone WAY more interesting than you while he's at work, supporting you and your troll habit.

Posted by: Bedrock | May 10, 2007 3:16 PM

HELP, please help me off the floor because I am rolling around laughing.

Best ever.

Posted by: scarry | May 10, 2007 3:17 PM

ELG, you are my new hero. Agree, agree, agree. I heart you.

Posted by: Mona | May 10, 2007 3:18 PM

About the survival gene, I just finished a GREAT book called "Deep Survival: Who Lives, Who Dies, and Why". It's fascinating.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | May 10, 2007 3:19 PM

AA county = Anne Arundel County (MD). ALTHOUGH, there are some folks around here who are fervent believers in 'It's five o'clock SOMEWHERE'. Certainly not me of course! :)

Posted by: 2girls2boys | May 10, 2007 3:19 PM

-Do they allow girls to wear their princess dresses in class? ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 03:15 PM


They can in ice-skating.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:20 PM

pATRICK, NO! Little girls are NOT allowed to do Tai Chi! They are busy getting hair extensions for their Rapunzel act! Someday their princes will come!!

;-)

Posted by: Mona | May 10, 2007 3:20 PM

Maybe or maybe their prince will keep breaking up with them.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:24 PM

Ice skating lessons are for rich kids with no more than 1 sibling.

Have you ever brought one of your kids to the ice rink? They just skate around in circles for a few hours. To make it interesting, they will skate in the other direction for 15 minutes. Wheeeeee!

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 10, 2007 3:24 PM

I think one major reason for the overscheduling, which many don't like to admit, is the hyper-competitiveness we feel today: my son/daughter has to be better than the kid across the street. A corollary to this is the insecurity we may feel that we did not do enough when we were kids. I think we run the risk of raising shallow over-achievers whose sole criteria for any activity is how it will look on their resume.

Posted by: Bob | May 10, 2007 3:26 PM

Do parents in other countries have these overscheduling issues?

You gotta wonder.

What will tomorrow's topic be...

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:26 PM

Better hope that your husband doesn't find someone WAY more interesting than you while he's at work, supporting you and your troll habit.

Name calling and unkind things about my marriage, good argument. If you re-read my previous statements you will see that I am speaking of those who can stay home not those who both have to work. If you drive two Escalades you don't have to work. Its pretty easy to spot just like your lack of class.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:28 PM

"So if several studies came out tomorrow saying that being a WOHP was better for your kids, you would go find a job tomorrow?"

to 2:40: Who are you? Posts like that should have a name, so I can look for you again. I heart you a little bit.

Posted by: atb | May 10, 2007 02:51 PM

It's me. Thanks.

Posted by: devils advocate | May 10, 2007 3:28 PM

Ice skating lessons are for rich kids with no more than 1 sibling.

No, Peggy Fleming was 1 of 4 kids, with a machinist father & SAHM. Nancy Kerrigan was 1 of 3 or 4 kids, also from a working-class family. Sarah & Emily Hughes are 2 of 6 kids.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:29 PM

"What about the foreign au pair who can teach her native language, so your children can learn a second language? I doubt you could do that as well."

My kids are too dumb to learn a foreign language. The few words they learned they would forgot not long after the foreign au pair took off with DH for Tahiti.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:34 PM

Its pretty easy to spot just like your lack of class.

You must have a phd because you ooze class.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:34 PM

Ice skating lessons are for rich kids with no more than 1 sibling.

Have you ever brought one of your kids to the ice rink? They just skate around in circles for a few hours. To make it interesting, they will skate in the other direction for 15 minutes. Wheeeeee!

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 10, 2007 03:24 PM

Father of 4, your kids' tae kwon doe classes are significantly more expensive than skating lessons. I used to buy into your "rich kids", "poor kids" divide until you listed the activities three of your four kids are doing -- be honest and admit that you think some activities are more fun or more valuable than others and leave the class-comments to others.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:35 PM

pATRICK--

Does your daughter want to ice skate? Not something a kid should be made to do if she doesn't want to.

Also, why not just take her ice skating? There doesn't have to be lessons for everything. Growing up in the midwest, I and my friends just went to the neighborhood rinks and skated.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:36 PM

You go ELG. Yeah, my kids are over scheduled but they're very healthy and they're way too busy to play video games for hours on end. My oldest is way too busy to be out drinking and doing drugs. I've heard of a couple of instances where his friends were actually drinking. He missed those events because he was either at a band concert or a swim meet. ( Once the parents found out, all of got together and presented a united front. )

Posted by: jane jetson | May 10, 2007 3:36 PM

"Its pretty easy to spot just like your lack of class."

Definition of oxymoron: using "pretty" as an all-purpose modifier while talking about others as "uneducated."

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:38 PM

Father of 4

"Ice skating lessons are for rich kids with no more than 1 sibling."

No problem for you. Tack on the lessons to the $30,000 credit card debt you already have.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:38 PM

to pb&j and those interested:OK, the truth is showing that something is statistically significant in a given study can not be extroplated to apply to a wide spread population if the sample wasn't drawn to be representative of the entire population. For example, even showing in a fairly exhaustive study that there is a statistically significant different cancer rate between smokers and nonsmokes does not show that cigarettes causes cancer. In order to show exact causation, every single smoker in the world would have to get cancer. What we can say is that there is a higher probability of smokers getting cancer if the study was representative of the entire population. Here is the trick. Except for some very wide scale government surveys most medical and socialogical studies are not representative of large populations (like all US children). Why? Because of money. So they may take a smaller population and say that given the population of all school aged children in suburban east coast or whatever, we showed a statistically significant difference in X. But the truth of the matter given the high nonresponse rates and messy data issues, most of these studies do not show much that can be extrapolated to a large population. The data is only as good as the sampling itself. There is always a certain amount of sampling and nonsampling error in every study. Of course in medical and socialogical studies, this error is published as some minor side point. That is why general statisticians are indifferent to the results as much as the theory behind getting those results. They purposely hide the statistical compromises made in any study to push a head with an agenda. That is why no single statistic means much if it isn't viewed under the assumption under which the data was collected. Again as a statistician, I rarely look at a single statistic and give it much regard. You have to read the methodology report (if it is at all exhaustive) before understanding what the published statistic means. On day care, I haven't read the reports that pb&j is talking about. Even if something has a higher probability of occurrence, doesn't mean it will happen to every individual. Not every smoker will get cancer. We would like to think they would but it doesn't work that way.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 10, 2007 3:39 PM

Don't know that I'd recommend tai chi for an active boy ... my experience is that it's very slow - but there is such a wide range of martial arts that you can try more than one before deciding, if you'd like. I disagree with the poster who said tae kwon do is more expensive than ice skating - how the hell would you know? For nearly every activity, there are expensive versions and cheap versions - we do all cheap versions, and I pay about $50 a quarter for my son's tang soo do (another martial art) and $75 for baseball - so it's hard for me to make the assumption that any one activity is necessarily more expensive than another - it has more to do with how many schools/clubs/organizations offer that activity.

Posted by: TakomaMom | May 10, 2007 3:40 PM

Thanks, foamgnome, for your explanation. It's the clearest technical one I've read. The clearest non-technical one I know goes like this: "Statistics is like a bikini - what it reveals is suggestive; what it conceals is essential."

Posted by: Demos | May 10, 2007 3:42 PM

pb&j will discount all your good sense because you said "Damn".

Posted by: To 3:06 | May 10, 2007 03:09 PM

she's already discounting all good sense and teaching her kids to reach broad conclusions about child-rearing, family units, values and other families based on not one scintilla of information. It must be quite lonely being so miserable. Her children are friendless (since they can't hit a baseball and don't know the rules of any other game besides hide-and-go-seek with mom always It, and they are all weirded out about her constant criticism of their parents). She drives a dae woo. Her husband is wondering why she can't find time to go to the gym, until he looks at the history file on the computer.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:43 PM

The rule in our house has been two extra-curricular activities. DD plays soccer and dances, and has stuck with these two since Kindergarten (she's 3rd grade now). I really anticipated some bouncing around before she found her "thing," but it didn't happen for us.

She has asked occasionally for another activity -- music lessons, girl scouts, art lessons. I've told her every time that I'd love to sign her up for one of those, but which activity would she like to drop -- dance or soccer? She immediately changes her mind about the new activity.

Juggling those two activities has become more challenging as she gets more skilled, however. Dance has expanded from 1 hour per week to 3. Soccer has gone from once-per-week practice to twice (one is optional and we have opted out occasionally when she has homework to do). She knows she has to have her homework done before lessons/practice. Homework load has gone up considerably this year too.

I've warned her that both soccer and dance will become more time consuming as she gets older and one day I will probably have to ask her to chose one. But as long as I can keep up with the driving and she continues to excel in school, I'll take her. Most of her best friends are in dance class or her soccer team. They are having FUN. When the fun stops, then we re-evaluate.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 10, 2007 3:44 PM

Excellent job, Foamy. But I fear in certain cases you may be casting pearls before swine.

BTW, isn't one way of helping correct for sampling errors to use random assignment of subjects into double-blind studies? I realize that's not for epidemiological studies (after-the-fact calculations), however.

What do you think of the decades-long massive Framingham health studies?

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 3:45 PM

"I disagree with the poster who said tae kwon do is more expensive than ice skating - how the hell would you know?"

Doesn't sound like TakomaMom, but whatever.

I the hell know because I've paid for both in three cities. That means I the hell know as much as you do - from my own anecdotal experience.

Posted by: to TakomaMom | May 10, 2007 3:45 PM

to pb&j and those interested:OK, the truth is showing that something is statistically significant in a given study can not be extroplated to apply to a wide spread population if the sample wasn't drawn to be representative of the entire population.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 10, 2007 03:39 PM

I think I said this twice, but maybe it will hold more weight for PB&J, coming from a "Professional".

Isn't that a trade secret? Are you sure you won't be thrown out of statistician union for admitting it. ;)

Posted by: devils advocate | May 10, 2007 3:46 PM

PB&J what does your husband do? I am just wondering because usually two people have to work these days.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:48 PM

"I think I said this twice, but maybe it will hold more weight for PB&J, coming from a "Professional"."

devil's advocate, you give her an excessive amount of credit. Her fingers have been plugged into her ears for about 43 years. She wouldn't unplug them if Jesus Christ himself spoke. Hey! He did. But she's not reading the New Testament either.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:49 PM

pb&j is just another fake, like Chrissy.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:49 PM

No problem for you. Tack on the lessons to the $30,000 credit card debt you already have.

Posted by: | May 10, 2007 03:38 PM

If you're going to dredge from the past to insult someone, consider accuracy. It's $20K not $30K.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:50 PM

Demos:That is why I like being a statistician. I love to study the methdology. I could care less what the results are. You will never hear a general statistician claiming things like "Cigarettes cause cancer, day care is bad, women make less then men" Actually when we start talking most people tune us out!LOL.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 10, 2007 3:50 PM

catlady: There are many ways to correct for sampling and non sampling errors. But there are no 100% corrections. More like helpful things to do before and after studies. I work more in survey statistics then clinical trials. But the day care study was most likely not a clinical trial while the cancer one probably was. Again, most of the methodology is either left out, glossed over, or buried deep within pages of foot notes to ever really get the sampling and nonsampling error. In fact a good number of studies do not even publish the sampling and nonsampling error. No, they won't throw us out. Again, I study mostly methodology and that is precisely what we want to look at. I think if I was a social scientist or a medical scientist, people might be furious with me!

Posted by: foamgnome | May 10, 2007 3:53 PM

Having skated and having a kid in Tae Kwon Do, all I can say is they are both expensive.

One thing about skating is that ice time is expensive, $180-250/hr in my neck of the woods. So if you go to a more 1:1 type of training, it can get very expensive. If you skate with a large group you can spread this cost around.

I assume that if you have the same level training, ice skating would be more expensive as the group gets smaller.

Posted by: devils advocate | May 10, 2007 3:54 PM

M, thanks for the point about the 3% differential, always wondered what the actual numbers in that study were. Now I can go happily back to work, enjoying the fact that I can set an example to my daughter that women can save for retirement, be financially independent, do something they love, enjoy interacting with intellegent coworkers, gain useful skills, and grow in self-esteem all with only a 3% higher chance of her having behavioral problems, which, if they ever happened to arise would be addressed immediately. The results of that study were actually quite reassuring then for the working moms crowd, not that the media would ever think of doing anything but prey on the working mother's guilt. I can tell you, I absoultely ADORE my daughter, and I can't wait to get home at night to see her and to spend all weekend with her, but I also love my work. And I love both of them all the more because I haven't given up one for the other. And feel absolutely no reason to feel guilty about it. During the day she is with people who love kids, who are getting paid well enough to take their jobs seriously, and who are professionally trained to take care of children. I have know plenty of people who spent lots of time in day care and turned out great (my husband in particular). In general we are just too busy being happy taking care of our family and our lives to be bothered listening to people with judgemental attitudes who are too attached to their ideologies ever acknowledge any examples to the contrary.

Posted by: rumicat | May 10, 2007 3:54 PM

devils advocate??? nooooo! I heart devil's advocate???? Hilarious!!!!

Posted by: atb | May 10, 2007 3:54 PM

i gotta tell this story about dancing. a friend of mine from high school is a very well know dancer instructor. i didn't realize that when i went to one of those dance classes & when i heard his name i remembered him. i asked him why he became a dance instructor & he told (no lie) "when you're as ugly as i am the only way to get laid is to know how to dance".
he's right.
i think my son will get interested in dance again when he gets interested in girls again. right now he's starting in the girls are icky phase.
the coach he had on his soccer team & t-ball team weren't screamers. they were both very laid back. my son just wasn't interested in team play. he might when he gets older but maybe not.

Posted by: quark | May 10, 2007 3:55 PM

"If you're going to dredge from the past to insult someone, consider accuracy. It's $20K not $30K.
"

Great! Now he has 10k to put on his cards and can afford the lessons. Problem solved.

It does seem that he manipulates his kids a lot.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 3:55 PM

What do you think of the decades-long massive Framingham health studies?

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 03:45 PM
I haven't looked at it. I have done most of my work on income and economic data. I am definitely not an expert in health studies.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 10, 2007 3:56 PM

"pATRICK--

Does your daughter want to ice skate? Not something a kid should be made to do if she doesn't want to.

Also, why not just take her ice skating? There doesn't have to be lessons for everything. Growing up in the midwest, I and my friends just went to the neighborhood rinks and skated."

Well first of all, wild horses couldn't make my daughter do anything she didn't want to do, much like her father. The reasons for lessons is that she is 4and I think it would be better to learn how to skate from someone who knows what the hell they are doing. I think she would enjoy it since she asked when I took her skating. We will see. Rich kids huh? HMM very elitist comment indeed given the facts.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 3:59 PM

The other thing about skating, is you can spend $1500 on a pair of custom skates. And a hockey stick can run you $200, God help you if your kid want to be the goalie ($3000 for a serious player).

Posted by: devils advocate | May 10, 2007 3:59 PM

Thanks, Foamy! (So all the secrets are buried in the footnotes, huh? LOL!)

Posted by: catlady | May 10, 2007 4:00 PM

catlady: I have seen footnotes go on for pages in some studies!

Posted by: foamgnome | May 10, 2007 4:01 PM

pATRICK:
I was a figure skater starting at age four; competitive ages 10-14. I got started in it because it was tons of fun and because I grew up in Far Upstate New York, where ice is a naturally-occuring part of the world for six months out of the year. I also think that given my age, my mother's tendency to overschedule me was involved, but this activity was a much bigger hit than tap or ballet or art. Yes, it was expensive for my parents, but for the first several years I don't think it was that bad: I only went for group lessons once a week for an hour. They had to pay for the club membership and a pair of skates, but that was it. When you're still little, nobody cares that you're skating in street clothes. Once I became competitive (mostly on precision team, but also some solo) of course expenses shot up, time commitment shot up (5 days/week, 2-3 hours/day, 6-week summer camp), the vibe at the rink definitely became more mean-girl snarky, and I quickly became aware that I wasn't particularly talented at skating. Wrong body type to do ice-dance or pairs, didn't have the skills for individual, and also had other stuff going on by then (band, swim team), so I hung up my skates. I was also, quite frankly, burned out from the schedule and the snarkiness of the girls at my club.

My parents' willingness to schlep me around to all of the practices, away meets, and auxiliary dance, gymnastics and aerobics classes was probably directly related to my status as an only child and to their status as teachers. I have no idea how many lesson plans got written or papers graded at the rink, but it had to have been a lot. I also don't quite know who we paid for it all, but we never went hungry or seemed to go without in other ways.

Would I do it over? Probably. There wasn't a heck of a lot else for a girl to do in terms of group athletic activity where I grew up, at least until you got to junior high and could join the JV teams. On the whole I have fond memories of skating, and I still enjoy it recreationally.

Would I do it over with a kid? Yes, if the kid showed an interest, but I'd start at the smallest possible scale, and if money was an object, I'd have to think hard about encouraging it.

Posted by: BxNY | May 10, 2007 4:02 PM

Part of the problem quite frankly is that SOME men think girl's sports are a waste of their time. That maybe Father of four's problem. I was at the rink and a 6-7 year old girl skated very gracefully around and I enjoyed her elegance and so did my daughter, hardly back and forth, whowee or whatever.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 4:03 PM

I have a good friend who is a dance teacher. She teaches several "Mommy-and-Me" classes. She was appalled when some of the moms approached her about private lessons. These are 2-3 year-olds!

I laughed when she said she consciously kept a straight face and said, "Of course, let me check my schedule." She may have been shocked and appalled, but she figured she paid the bills giving dancing lessons, and if these moms wanted to pay her, then she'd darn well give 'em the lessons.

Posted by: Vegas Mom | May 10, 2007 4:04 PM

You have Framingham to thank for all the new genetic linkage studies. They're a pretty awesome repository with exhaustive phenotype records and matching DNA samples. The NIH is using the heck out of Framingham and is funding other similar repositories with foci on diabetes, psoriasis, bipolar, ADHD, schizoprenia, and depression.

Posted by: atb | May 10, 2007 4:08 PM

My parents' willingness to schlep me around to all of the practices, away meets, and auxiliary dance, gymnastics and aerobics classes was probably directly related to my status as an only child and to their status as teachers.

Posted by: BxNY | May 10, 2007 04:02 PM

My parents were neither teachers, nor was I an only child, but I remember my dad (sometimes mom) driving me to hockey practice at 4:30 AM. I assume they did it because they loved me and I loved hockey (I still play today @ 44yo). I also find that this has set the example for me to do the same with my child if she wants me to.

So BxNY, it could be that you just had good parents that made your happiness a priority.

Posted by: devils advocate | May 10, 2007 4:08 PM

"I pay about $50 a quarter for my son's tang soo do"

I hope it's not the one in Bowie. ::shudder:: The epitome of vending-machine black belts and commercialized MA.

Posted by: Mona | May 10, 2007 4:08 PM

re: Tae Kwon Do vs. ice skating

from pATRICK, "it is $99 for 7 weeks 30 minutes a week."

Doing the math, that's roughly $30 an hour which I think is near the top for extra ciricular sports activities.

Tae Kwon Do, I've calculated to be around $6 to $7 an hour and I don't have to pay to get him into the rink to practice.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 10, 2007 4:09 PM

My background is different from foamgnome's, and gives me a perspective that may be helpful here. I'm an actuary, and I have to use a tremendous amount of data in my job. I'm not studying it for the sake of research, however - I'm always looking for something that will help me, or one of my clients, make a decision, set a premium, establish a financial reserve, etc.

It's easy to forget that statistical studies are tools - not oracles. They are incredibly useful, but they aren't perfect. Data are limited, or don't line up exactly with the particular situation you happen to be in, or (always) from sometime in the past. You can tell that things are related, but you don't know what's the cause and what's the effect. There's always something else going on that's not included in your data.

This is one aspect of a broader challange of the human condition - we're constantly having to make decisions in the face of incomplete information.

There is no perfect study that will tell us everything we need to know about kid's activities, going back to work, what we should eat, etc. We have to look at all the information we have, apply judgement and common sense, think about what it all means, and then - decide.

It stinks, but there you have it.

Posted by: Demos | May 10, 2007 4:10 PM

Part of the problem quite frankly is that SOME men think girl's sports are a waste of their time. That maybe Father of four's problem. I was at the rink and a 6-7 year old girl skated very gracefully around and I enjoyed her elegance and so did my daughter, hardly back and forth, whowee or whatever.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 04:03 PM

Well THIS man thinks figure skating (not just a girls sport, BTW) is what skaters do when they can't play hockey.

Posted by: devils advocate | May 10, 2007 4:11 PM

Mona -- does BF know how much time you spend on the parenting blog talking about how you will raise your future children? Or is this our little secret?

Posted by: horse before the cart | May 10, 2007 4:13 PM

Oop, should have been "'how' we paid for it all." I know who we paid (the club president) and the less said of her, the better.

Many of the kids I skated with were indeed from the upper echelon of our little society - they were wealthy only in relative terms - but there were also people like me (teacher's kid), the three really talented Air Force brat siblings, the two sisters (of four) whose dad operated a kennel who eventually went to Nationals.

I think any sport can become a serious drain on a family's time and finances if a kid becomes serious enough about it. And I don't mean Olympian serious, even travel teams or summer camps add up in a hurry.

Posted by: BxNY | May 10, 2007 4:13 PM

Well THIS man thinks figure skating (not just a girls sport, BTW) is what skaters do when they can't play hockey.

Posted by: devils advocate | May 10, 2007 04:11 PM


Let's hear it for broken bones and missing teeth.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 4:13 PM

Well THIS man thinks figure skating (not just a girls sport, BTW) is what skaters do when they can't play hockey.

Posted by: devils advocate | May 10, 2007 04:11 PM

Ah, that was the plot to a bad 80s movie starring Moira Kelly. Anyone recall the title of the movie?

Posted by: pg-13 | May 10, 2007 4:14 PM

As the parent of a semi-serious ice skater - let me give you my experience. The early lessons are no more than any other sport. I would suggest you let the girl (and the boy) try. Knowing how to skate can come in handy in that schools and other organizations have skating evenings. Fof4 - the skating around in a circle is only for "public sessions" and if your child truly likes skating they within a relatively short period of time move onto other sessions, so there is room to do the jumps, the spins, the move patterns, the dance patterns. This is where the expenses start, private lessons, skates (which can top out at a $1,000 a pair, even at the mid levels can run around $400-$600) and competition outfits and competition costs. Unlike socceer where you have to move up to a travel team, even fairly low level competitors find themselves traveling to other states to compete. My daughter does synchronized skating (a good option for skaters looking for a team experience) and traveling up and down the east coast for competitions is a given.

In a nutshell taking lessons to learn - nice idea, not more expense than anything else. If she likes it just open up your checkbook or nip it early. And one final note - I know my daughter loves it because she is willing to get up at 5:00 am to make practice sessions (ice time can be hard to come by)

Posted by: sk8trmom | May 10, 2007 4:15 PM

re: Tae Kwon Do vs. ice skating

"from pATRICK, "it is $99 for 7 weeks 30 minutes a week."

Doing the math, that's roughly $30 an hour which I think is near the top for extra ciricular sports activities."

yes by that math you are correct. But to me its 14.00 a week which won't break me by any means. Plus there is no equipment to buy or uniforms.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 4:18 PM

Ah, that was the plot to a bad 80s movie starring Moira Kelly. Anyone recall the title of the movie?

Posted by: pg-13 | May 10, 2007 04:14 PM

"Youngblood" with Rob Lowe, it was on versus last night because there was no playoff game to show.

Posted by: devils advocate | May 10, 2007 4:19 PM

pATRICK, why don't you just start out by taking her to the rink a few times, see how she adjusts? Some kids are really uncomfortable even being on the ice as soon as they put the skates on, so might want to see if your daughter falls in this group.

My 6-yr-old is extremely interested in ice skating (I think more for dress-up and looking pretty and graceful). My husband doesn't consider anything to be a "sport" if it involves being judged on being pretty, so he's not so big on it. I'll do it if my daughter really wants to, but she'd have to REALLY love it before I'd let her do it competetively (for those reasons). But I'm waiting for her to be able to stand up in her 4-wheeled roller skates before I even try to get her on one thin blade. :-) Wishing we were still in MN, where she'd have learned to skate as soon as she learned to walk.

Posted by: Laura | May 10, 2007 4:20 PM

know my daughter loves it because she is willing to get up at 5:00 am to make practice sessions (ice time can be hard to come by)

Posted by: sk8trmom | May 10, 2007 04:15 PM

My father said the same thing about me! It's true.

Posted by: devils advocate | May 10, 2007 4:21 PM

driving me to hockey practice at 4:30 AM. I assume they did it because they loved me and I loved hockey
Posted by: devils advocate | May 10, 2007 04:08 PM

Devil's Advocate, that pretty much says it all. (BTW, I did have pretty terrific parents, too.)

As for figure skating being what skaters do when they can't play hockey, we used to say that hockey was what people did when they couldn't skate. :)

Posted by: BxNY | May 10, 2007 4:22 PM

pATRICK, why don't you just start out by taking her to the rink a few times, see how she adjusts? Some kids are really uncomfortable even being on the ice as soon as they put the skates on, so might want to see if your daughter falls in this group.

Well this was my thinking too since it is only 30 min a week and 7 weeks longs that it would be just a fun thing. When she was in soccer there were practices and games etc and this seems more like a fun outing to give her a taste. Team sports for girls this age are pretty limited, soccer is pretty much it and in the summer forget it (100 degrees). I think she deserves the same fun time as her brother so hopefully she will like it.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 4:25 PM

Hockey players don't know edges.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 4:25 PM

My husband doesn't consider anything to be a "sport" if it involves being judged on being pretty, so he's not so big on it.

Posted by: Laura | May 10, 2007 04:20 PM

As much as I make light of figure skating, there is no way it is not a sport (ice dancing, on the other hand, I still need to be convinced).

The grace and power of figure skating is sometimes awesome to watch. The men are doing quads now (4 revolutions in the air) followed by triples and the women are doing triple/triples. Your husband should really watch the pros somtimes. Pretty has very little to do with it.

Posted by: devils advocate | May 10, 2007 4:28 PM

(ice dancing, on the other hand, I still need to be convinced).

You need to watch more. It's gotten really athletic too.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 4:33 PM

devil's advocate, you are sounding imminently sensible today. I'm getting worried I might need to go in for a checkup.

horse before the cart, you are so way off base about Mona. Mona may or may not have kids, and may or may not decide to do so with current BF. She's not doodling her name, "Mrs. Mona BF" in the margin of her wide-ruled paper, by any means. Give her about-to-relocate-and-enroll-in-law-school tuckus a break.

Posted by: MN | May 10, 2007 4:33 PM

"The grace and power of figure skating..."

I must admit, every figure skater I have ever seen has a world class butt.

Is that why they call it "figure" skating?

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 10, 2007 4:34 PM

The Figure in figure skating comes from the patterns in the ice that skaters traditionally created & repeated, like figure 8s, circles, etc. Great glutes are just a fringe benefit.

Posted by: To Father of 4 | May 10, 2007 4:37 PM

Great glutes are just a fringe benefit.

Posted by: To Father of 4 | May 10, 2007 04:37 PM


Don't you mean the icing on the cake?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 4:40 PM

MN - funny about doodling in the margins. But don't you think she has her children's names picked out?

Posted by: horse before the cart | May 10, 2007 4:44 PM

devil's advocate, I actually agree with you about that. But it's more philosophical with him -- he's an engineer, all into efficiency and objectively observable phenomena and all that. So he HATES the inconsistency of any judged sport -- be it figure skating, gymnastics, or X-Games. And it's worse when a whole category of judging focuses on the immeasurable -- I think if you just counted triple jumps, he'd be happy, but the very fact that half the score is devoted to the inherently subjective "artistic impression" drives him nuts.

So it's not that he doesn't think it takes skill or stamina or athletic prowess. It's just that he limits "sports" to athletic feats measurable by objective criteria -- seconds, baskets, goals, etc.

And more specifically in our daughter's case, he has seen the unfairness of the judging even at the highest levels (Winter Olympics, anyone?). I think he believes that the very nature of the basis on which the judging is performed ("artistic impression") makes it easy to hide and get away with under-the-table dealings. It was while watching that Winter Olympics that he vowed he would never let his daughter figure skate -- to devote how many years of your life just for one event, one moment, and then have an under-the-table deal take that moment away? And if that can happen at the highest levels, I think he worries even more about the politics and dealing that goes on at the lower levels. He hates that kind of political crap. In his mind, there are a lot of things his daughter can do that don't involve that same kind of risk, so he sees no reason why she can't do one of those.

Posted by: Laura | May 10, 2007 4:45 PM

Hockey players don't know edges.

Posted by: | May 10, 2007 04:25 PM

Good hockey players do.

All this hockey talk (even though it is mostly me talking) has me thinking about how my life has been because I was interested in sports as a child and now an adult.

I tried baseball for a couple of years, wasn't great at it, found it a little boring, told my parents I wanted to quit and when the season ended, I did. My parents wanted me to do things I enjoyed but also taught me that when you commit to something you honor your commitment.

I started playing hockey at age nine, even though I was of equal hockey ability (good not great), I never stopped playing until college (only then because I broke my wrist and found beer during the recovery). It didn't matter to me that I wasn't the best, I loved playing and my parents supported it. I got to playing again a couple of years out of college and haven't stopped yet.

The point (bet you thought there wasn't one) is that kids don't have to be the best at something for it to be a valuable and important part of the lives. Trying a lot of things for a short period can be useful in having you child find something they really love and will want to do for the rest of their lives. This is not limited to sports either.

I also played a little soccer in HS. Now I coach my kids soccer team.

One thing to watch out for though is the quality of the teacher/coaches is very important to your childs love of anything. A bad coach can ruin a sport for a kid in single season, so it is best to stay on the lookout for the bad ones.

Posted by: devils advocate | May 10, 2007 4:49 PM

In his mind, there are a lot of things his daughter can do that don't involve that same kind of risk, so he sees no reason why she can't do one of those.

Posted by: Laura | May 10, 2007 04:45 PM

I have the same view as your husband (artistic impression - WTF), but as the parent, I would look at from the daughters point of view. She will probably never get to the point of single moment messing up years of work. She just wants to skate like the lady on TV (I wanted to be Bobby Orr). If it is something she expresses a true interest in, I wouldn't feel right about denying her based on my opinion of the judging.

This goes along with my point above about being the best is not as important as doing something she loves.

Also, if he thinks there is no subjectivity in other sports, can he explain why the ref called to handballs in the box on my girl's soccer team in the last two minutes, while ingoring the 12 others that had occured during the previous 48 minutes?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 10, 2007 5:02 PM

..Two handballs...

That was me above.

Posted by: devils advocate | May 10, 2007 5:04 PM

"Also, if he thinks there is no subjectivity in other sports, can he explain why the ref called to handballs in the box on my girl's soccer team in the last two minutes, while ingoring the 12 others that had occured during the previous 48 minutes?"


This drove me nuts too when I coached soccer. It was so subjective. I was for calling everything both ways but noooo just the flagrant ones. Still bitter!!! ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 5:06 PM

And if that can happen at the highest levels, I think he worries even more about the politics and dealing that goes on at the lower levels. He hates that kind of political crap.

Posted by: Laura | May 10, 2007 04:45 PM

Laura, I understand your point, or your husband's point, but realistically politics is part of even sports that might appear to be judged objectively. Politics is why the younger daughter of the biggest booster makes the basketball team instead of your daughter, all things being equal. It's the basis for the phrase, "homecourt refs," referring to the tendency of referees to see the fouls of the visiting team but somehow miss the fouls of the home team. It inevitably is the basis for the NCAA Selection Committee making those 7 or 8 picks in the men's basketball tournament that drive those of us who care crazy each year.

So, you're right that it's awful to be subject to the whims of the Russian judge and French judge. I wouldn't take much comfort, though, in the belief that sports judged by seconds, baskets and goals are devoid of people behind the scenes rigging the outcome in favor of certain teams or players.

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 10, 2007 5:10 PM

This drove me nuts too when I coached soccer. It was so subjective. I was for calling everything both ways but noooo just the flagrant ones. Still bitter!!! ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 05:06 PM

But it does teach your child, in a relatively harmless way that:

-life is not always fair
-People aren't perfect (the refs are people right?)

Posted by: devils advocate | May 10, 2007 5:16 PM

MN - funny about doodling in the margins. But don't you think she has her children's names picked out?

Posted by: horse before the cart | May 10, 2007 04:44 PM

No. In fact, if I recall correctly, her current view is "no kids". She may have a strong opinion on what those never-to-exist children will wear, eat and do, but like many of us here, she has strong opinions on almost everything :>)

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 10, 2007 5:17 PM

"But it does teach your child, in a relatively harmless way that:

-life is not always fair
-People aren't perfect (the refs are people right?)"

Don't interrupt my bitterness with facts and reasonable logic, it just spoils it! ;)

By the way I have a lot of respect for volunteer or minimally paid refs, they don't have a kid in the mix but still come out and devote their time.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 10, 2007 5:26 PM

Devil's Advocate and MN, I actually agree with you, and had very similar conversations with my husband at the time (Ravens = not real favorites of the officiating crews). I have no illusions of being able to protect my daughter from life's unfairness; I just think he thinks why add in a whole 'nother layer of potential unfairness? But if my daughter really, really falls in love with ice skating, I will go to the mat with him to let her do it. But on the other hand, I also don't have to put it at the very top of the list of 183 different things she wants to try, do I? :-) (Note: clearly N/A if were were in MN, where skating is very high on the list of necessary life skills).

Posted by: Laura | May 10, 2007 5:56 PM

Wow I missed a great discussion today. Sometimes it's hard being in this discussion and being on the West Coast.

PB&J is wrong on so many levels....

Speaking as a kid whose parents were prone to over-scheduling me in lots of different activities there are pros and cons to it.

On one hand I can dance, sing, act (okay, only a little, but I'm fairly comfortable giving presentations at the very least), and enjoy staying in shape. I attribute this to the soccer, volleyball, band, theatre, acting lessons, and horse-back riding I took at various times growing up.

On one hand it's ridiculous, but on the other I learned what I wanted to pursue as an adult because I was able to refer back to the experience I had growing up.

Not to be too snide to PB&J (ok - totally snide) but, my mom was a SAHM who had the time to do all of this and I'm sorry to say that some of it was "keeping up with the Joneses".

As a working woman who plans on continuing working through my children's lives, I don't know who has time to do this?!?! I will though, because I believe that on some level it helped me achieve the skills I needed for the career I have now.

Posted by: Seattle | May 10, 2007 6:27 PM

Our rule is that they each get 1 thing to do PLUS swimming lessons once a week. So that means 2 classes. I refuse - REFUSE - to have my young kids in soccer or tee ball. It's preposterous to introduce them to such a sport at this age, besides, I believe strongly kids have far to many ADULT-DIRECTED activities in their lives these days. Where's the imagination? Where's the fun? Put a group of kids together in the woods today and they look around wondering, "why am I here, now what?" No thank you. My kids will gather rocks and make mud pies and search for worms until they're old enough to make truly INFORMED choices about their own free time.

Posted by: Mom of 3 | May 10, 2007 7:37 PM

I was going to reply to horse's comment, but MN did it so eloquently, there is little I can add. My current stance is: if BF and I end up staying together, one or two is fine. We have talked about names, but he brought it up first, I swear! ;-) If BF and I don't end up getting married, I probably won't want kids at all. He's the first person I've met that could ever make me consider children. That's why I'm here. The whole concept of having kids is so alien to me because I've been so dead-set against having them my whole life that it scares me, and yes, my horse is standing in front of its cart, but I'm just trying to prepare myself mentally for what parenthood will entail. The posters here have been great about helping me understand what to expect, and giving me a good healthy dose of reality when necessary, as I tend to idealize things. I do like the moniker "Mrs. Mona BF," though, and if I ever need to stop being Mona, that's what I'll start using. :-)

And I'm sure you guys aren't reading this; you're all spending quality time with your future Nancy Kerrigans, Chuck Liddells and Stephen Hawkings. :-)

Posted by: Mona | May 10, 2007 8:31 PM

I took ice skating lessons, and so did both of my sisters, so there were three of us and we were by no means 'rich.'

Okay, so the ice skating rink was a pseudo govt one (i.e., run by the town) not private enterprise, so maybe that made it less expensive.

Posted by: atlmom | May 10, 2007 9:10 PM

Oh, and my SIL could have been an olympic gymnast, but her parents 'talked her out of it' in high school - i.e., they discussed with her the pros and cons (like, they'd have to move - or she'd just move alone) and pretty much steered her to not going to the next level.

She *did* get up at 5 AM most days to practice. She ended up going to an ivy league college, where she might not have otherwise gotten in. They don't give sports scholarships to ivys, so they still had to pay for it.

Posted by: atlmom | May 10, 2007 9:15 PM

to mom of 3:

My son likes soccer and tball and it's not all that 'adult directed.' The kids are just learning and they all run after the ball or whatever. It *is* very cute.

BUT my friend was saying that her DH didn't get to do tball, etc til he was older and he always felt very behind his peers when he was playing with them- so he *would* like his kids to start the sports stuff earlier in their lives than he did for those reasons.

Posted by: atlmom | May 10, 2007 9:19 PM

Mona-
I hear you. I read what you wrote. I'm not too busy with my future whatevers. Indeed, they're too independent for me to think of what they'll be...they'll do that themselves.
So way back when, I thought about kids in the abstract too. Until they're actually in your arms, they're abstract. I thought about names, my future initials (even though I figured I'd never change my name, it was still humorous to dream silly dreams). At one time, I was dead set against kids. It wasn't in my agenda. Years later, when talking with an ex-boyfriend, he spoke about how he knew it wasn't true. It wasn't like I eyed kids or anything (no way!). Rather, it was just because I was so vehement about something so abstract at the time, he knew it was really a love/hate thing. Hate the abstract, love the absolute. I'm amazed I didn't marry that man. He knew me better than most anyone at the time.
Never say never and live your life true to yourself. BF doesn't define your life decisions...you do. You go girl!

Posted by: dotted | May 10, 2007 10:28 PM

So if several studies came out tomorrow saying that being a WOHP was better for your kids, you would go find a job tomorrow?

If you truly believe that someone making at most, $12 an hour is better qualified than you are to raise, instruct and nurture your child than maybe you are right. Then again, if you aren't really best qualified to care for them, maybe you shouldn't have had them at all?

Posted by: pb&j | May 10, 2007 02:58 PM

Yeah, I'm going to quit my job that pays in excess of $30/hour and for the family health care, my future retirement and FSA account in order to be at the house all day waiting for my school-aged children to come home. I will then refuse them to participate in any extra-curricular activities because they have spent too much time away from me, and of course, I am capable of teaching them everything under the sun.

Not every two-income family puts it all to extras, some of us plan on retiring and NOT being a financial burden on our kids.

What's next for you? Waitressing at 60 is hard on the body and the tips are abysmal.

Posted by: to pb&j | May 11, 2007 11:43 AM

Activities for kids hinge on your attitude about them.

People with kids are busy, and, it gets busier as they get older, no matter if the activities are "organized" or not.

There is nothing evil about organized activities.

There is nothing morally superior about saying "no" to everything, nor, is the parent who takes a child to an early morning practice at an elite level bad.

If your child has 10 activities at once, and, it works for your family, why in the world does it matter to anyone else?

http://careerandkids.com

Posted by: Elizabeth | May 12, 2007 12:27 AM

I stumbled upon this article as a link from elsewhere. Wow... you folks get personal and pretty catty in the comments.

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